A book signing in Brooklyn with Hartford J. Hough for his book, The Fur Beneath My Wings: Our Relationship With Animals & The Valuable Lessons They Teach Us
Hartford J. Hough, an award-winning chef, baker, and cake designer based in California, makes it clear in his inspirational debut book, titled The Fur Beneath My Wings, that the community of his faith tradition, family, and friends are the foundation of his life journey. Indeed, he chose to come home to Brooklyn to host the New York City launch of his book at an event held last month at the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church in the Fort Greene section of the borough.
Hough’s family members and many friends from elementary school, Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School, and Howard University packed the room, in a large show of support. Indeed, it was more like a family reunion than any book signing event I’ve attended. Several individuals, who also contributed their stories about their pets, eagerly pointed me to one of the 23 chapters of the 156-page book that show how animals can teach us humans valuable lessons about how to live. Each chapter concludes with a “Reflective Thought,” written by Hough.
Gloria Green, a book lover and supporter of author Hartford J. Hough, purchased 10 books of “Fur Beneath My Wings” for her pet lover friends.
Hough dedicates the book to Guffington and Mr. Belvedere, two cats he cared for, the latter a tabby and rescue animal with health problems. Both cats died in 2011.
From the first chapter on “Why Worry?” to other chapters on “Patience,” “Learning to Say Goodbye,” “The Power of Knowing,” “The Pathway That Finds Love,” and to the final chapter on “We Have to Get Along,” Hough and the seven contributors to his book guide us to see the unique and powerful bond that humans and animals can create. Each chapter begins with an inspirational quote and then shares a first-person story about how the individual developed a relationship with his or her pet. As each story unfolds we come to see how the relationship with a pet helps that person learn to navigate life’s joys and its many challenges.
At the book launch event, Hough shared his own story and relationship with Ginger, his Maltese Terrier. First, he lets us know that Ginger is 6-years-old and although tiny in size “is bodacious, something out of South Central, ‘Boyz N the Hood.’ Ginger can step to a pit bull with her ‘try me’ attitude.” Then, Hough tells us a memorable story about his frightening, potentially life-threatening experience and Ginger’s role:
“I had just finished walking Ginger, who I’d tried to hurry along, but who’d kept resisting my rushing. That was when I felt a pain on the right side, along my arm. Then, I just fell. I fell on my neighbor’s porch. Ginger was in-tune with her owner; that’s how I ultimately got the lesson I needed. I know that my stroke was caused by stress. The constant stress of my job. So, we have to learn how to read animals and their body language. Ginger was saying to me, ‘Slow down, my human friend.’ She wasn’t being obstinate. She was teaching me a lesson: Slow down and smell the roses.”
In the book’s final chapter, Hough tells us another story about how Ginger helps him control his feelings of frustration and increasing ire in the face of repeated security checks he was forced to withstand at the hands of TSA agents at JFK Airport. Readers will find the story a beautiful window into how Hough’s relationship with Ginger, whom he calls “the smallest of creatures,” plays a major role in his life.
Only after reading the book did I learn that Ginger is Hough’s registered Emotional Support Animal (ESA). And, only in hearing Hough’s stories that he shared at the book event and that he and his contributing storytellers share in The Fur Beneath My Wings did it occur to me that maybe every one of us humans needs an ESA. I, for one, am now a believer.
About Hartford J. Hough
A proud member of the Humane Society and the ASPCA, Hartford Hough is also a member of International Association of Culinary Professionals. He has been baking over thirty years -- for clients that include Sotheby's International Realty, Morgan Stanley, Universal Studios, and RealD Entertainment. He is as passionate about the care of animals as he is about baking and the culinary arts. Hough supports organizations and other resources responsible for finding "forever" homes for lost, abandoned and displaced animals. He is an advocate who is determined to raise awareness for animal welfare, to end animal cruelty, and to help ensure animal foster care.
For more about Hartford J. Hough and The Fur Beneath My Wings, visit: https://www.thefurbeneathmywings.com