Three years ago, author and musician Kinky Friedman had six dogs — not counting the 50 or so awaiting homes at his Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch.
Today, he’s down to two — Chumley and Brownie, who, though brothers, spend an inordinate amount of time making out.
The dogs who have passed, though, aren’t far away. Just outside Kinky’s front door, a couple of decades worth of pets are buried in a colorful, well-tended garden, including his beloved Mr. Magoo, whose gravesite is topped with all of “Goo’s” favorite stuffed toys.
On our Monday visit to Utopia Ranch, we got to meet and spend some time with the author of “Roadkill,” “God Bless John Wayne,” “The Great Psychedelic Armadillo Picnic,” and more than 25 other books — including his most recent, “Kinky’s Celebrity Pet Files.”
You might think all that writing wouldn’t leave him time for anything else, but Kinky, from appearances, likes to stay busy. He ran for governor of Texas in 2006, capturing about 12 percent of the vote, writes a column for Texas Monthly, and, with help from friends, funds Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch. Next month, Kinky, along with two members of his band, the Texas Jewboys, start a west coast tour.
In between performing tunes like “Ride ‘Em Jewboy” ” and “They Ain’t Makin’ Jews Like Jesus Anymore,” Kinky, 65, often referred to as the “Mark Twain of Texas,” will also be selling his wares at the concerts, including two of his more recent books, “Heroes of a Texas Childhood” and “What Would Kinky Do?” He’ll be hawking his cigars, as well.
Kinky, who was an infant when his family moved from Chicago to Texas to start a summer camp for Jewish children, spoils his dogs, in life and death — from grilling them steaks to interring them in the blooming shrine he has created at his front porch, the centerpiece of which is the grave of Magoo, who died at age 14
He has a long history of rescuing pets, starting in New York City in 1979, when he found a kitten a shoe box while walking through Chinatown. He took it home and named it Cuddles.
In the summer of 1996, he found another cat, Lucky, while driving from his parents’ ranch to Medina. The cat, found in the middle of the road, had been shot. He took the cat to a veterinarian, paid for the surgeries and amputation of an injured leg, then took Lucky home.
Because he traveled frequently, Friedman turned to friend Nancy Parker-Simons to babysit his pets, and that arrangement evolved into Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch. In 1998, the rescue operation started on Parker-Simon’s seven acres in the town of Utopia. Three years later, it moved to the Friedman ranch.
In fact, it was another rescue that led to Friedman’s highly popular series of detective novels. In the mid-1980s, Kinky rescued a woman being robbed at a midtown Manhattan ATM. Based on the experience, he created the character Kinky Friedman the detective. After that, he branched out into children’s books, memoirs, historical reflections and, most lately, ”Kinky’s Celebrity Pet Files.”
In it, Friedman recounts the connections many of his celebrity friends have and had with their pets — how Beach Boy Brian Wilson, on the “Pet Sounds” album, closed one song with the barking of his two dogs, Banana and Louis; how Dr. John’s dog, Lucy, once ate menthol-flavored condoms; about Fats Domino’s bichon Frise, Winnie the Pooh, who perished in Hurricane Katrina; Billie Holliday’s boxer, Mister, who would sit backstage while his master sang; Tom Waits, who had his pet white rat stuffed upon its demise; and Jim Nabors who on the eve of every Fourth of July would fly his four Staffordshire Terriers from Honolulu to Maui, where they wouldn’t be bothered by fireworks.
He deals with his own pets as well in the book, from their daily hijinks to their bedtime rituals:
Then we all go back to bed and dream of fields full of slow-moving rabbits and mice and cowboys and Indians and imaginary childhood friends and tail fins on Cadillacs and girls in the summertime and everything else that time has taken away.
“It shows the animals in the lives of great and famous people, and the importance they attach to their pet,” Kinky said.
Friedman gave me two of his books, and autographed them for me, but he didn’t have any of his newest. So after hanging out with him for an hour or so — a period in which his cigar rarely left his mouth — I drove up to Kerrville to buy a copy at Wolfmueller’s, a new and used bookstore worth checking out if you ever pass through.
Kinky was supposed to be going there, but wasn’t going to be able to make it.
“Tell them I’m not coming today,” he told me.
I bought the book, passed on the message, ate some Mexican food and headed back to Bandera, where my own dog was spending the day in the air conditioned offices of the weekly newspaper, the Bandera Courier, the editor of which has been supplying me with dogsitting, story ideas and Texas-sized hospitality.
But that’s another story.
(To read all of the installments of “Dog’s Country,” click here.
Posted by jwoestendiek June 16th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace does american, animal welfare, animals, author musician, bandera, billie holliday, books, books on dogs, brian wilson, celebrities, celebrity, dog, dog friendly, dog's country, dogscountry, dr. john, jim nabors, john woestendiek, kinky, kinky friedman, medina, ohmidog!, pets, rescue, road trip, shelter, texas, tom waits, travel, utopia, utopia animal rescue ranch
His wife still hasn’t come home, but his dog has — in fact, as it turns out, Jesse James’ pitbull, CinnaBun, never left the premises.
Though reported lost — for the second time in two months — CinnaBun was in a storage room at James’ West Coast Choppers the whole time.
An update on the West Coast Choppers website reads: “We rarely go into our storage room in the production building but CinnaBun found her way in somehow. She’s back in the office and in high spirits.”
A missing dog report had been filed March 15 with HomeAgain, a company that monitors microchips in pets. HomeAgain sent emails yesterday to residents in the Long Beach area — in the vicinity of West Coast Choppers, where James kept CinnaBun.
James’s wife, Sandra Bullock, recently moved out of the couple’s home amid reports that James had an affair with a tattoo model.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 19th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: actress, affair, animals, celebrities, cinnabon, cinnabun, dog, found, home again, homeagain, jesse james, lost, missing, pets, sandra bullock, west coast choppers
Little more than a week after she was on top of the world, Sandra Bullock has reportedly left the residence she shares with Jesse James, and reports are that James’ dog CinnaBun has gone missing again, too.
HomeAgain, a company that monitors microchips in pets, tolds TMZ that a report was filed March 15 with the company that CinnaBun had turned up missing.
HomeAgain sent emails yesterday to residents in the Long Beach area — in the vicinity of West Coast Choppers, where James kept CinnaBun.
“I am asking for your help in finding my lost dog, CinnaBun,” the emails read.
CinnaBun, a pit bull, went missing at the end of January and wasn’t found for nearly a month.
Meanwhile, James has broken his silence on reports that he cheated on his Oscar-winning wife, telling People magazine he used “poor judgment”.
James, a custom motorcycle manufacturer who married Bullock five years ago, said he took responsibility for his actions. But he stopped short of admitting that he had an affair.
Bullock, 45, pulled out of the London premiere of “The Blind Side” on Wednesday after the celebrity magazine In Touch Weekly published claims by a model that she slept with James last year.
“It’s because of my poor judgment that I deserve everything bad that is coming my way,” James said in a statement to People.
Bullock, who received the Oscar for best actress last week for her work in the “The Blind Side,” has reportedly moved out of the home she shared with James.
(An update to this story can be found here.)
Posted by jwoestendiek March 19th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: academy award, actress, again, california, celebrities, cinnabun, estranged, hollywood, home again, homeagain, jesse james, long beach, microchipped, microchips, missing, moved out, oscar, people, pit bull, sandra bullock, the blind side, troubles, west coast choppers
Jennifer Lopez’ ex-dog — well, he’s still a dog, just not her’s — is the subject of another lawsuit, allegedly the fifth biting incident in which the German shepherd has been involved.
Floyd, a trained guard dog who once belonged to Lopez and Marc Anthony, now belongs to “West Wing” actress NiCole Robinson and husband Craig Snyder.
Mary Bahl, who worked for the dog’s current owners, alleges the trained guard dog/family pet chomped on her breast and hand outside the couple’s upper East Side home last June. Bahl’s claims surfaced five weeks after the couple’s babysitter sued, saying Floyd bit her in January.
“Plaintiff was severely traumatized by the attack, and remains in fear of all large dogs,” the New York Daily News quotes the lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Manhattan Supreme Court, as saying.
The dog, whose full name is Floyd vom Meierhoff, was owned by Lopez and Anthony from Nov. 2005 to March 2007,
Floyd, who underwent military-style training in Germany, has also been accused of attacking a flight attendant, a housekeeper and Anthony’s personal assistant.
The latest suit says Bahl suffered “injury in body and mind” and major medical bills.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 18th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bit, bite, biting, celebrities, celebrity, craig snyder, dogs, floyd, floyd vom Meierhoff, german shepherd, guard dog, jennifer lopez, lawsuit, marc anthony, mary bahl, news, nicole robinson, pets
Coming up on his first birthday, Scooby-Roo has come a long way since he was found five months ago — with no front legs, living with his sister in a wrecked car in a gang-ridden neighborhood in South Central Los Angeles.
His first break came when a good samaritan picked him and his sister up. His second came when they were taken in by Fuzzy Rescue. Since then, his story has led to offers of help from Demi Moore, Alyssa Milano, Michael Jackson’s children and many others.
Today, still under the care of Fuzzy Rescue, he has a therapist and a personal trainer and can look forward to a masseuse and acupuncturist, the Associated Press reports.
Not long after Roo arrived at Fuzzy Rescue in Santa Monica — caked in blood from scooting around on the asphalt — the non-profit organization’s director, Sheila Choi send out mass emails looking for donations and other support.
After that, celebrities began tweeting about Roo, from Demi Moore to Shannon Elizabeth. Alyssa Milano saw a YouTube video of the dog and called Choi, promising to help any way she could. Michael Jackson’s children, Prince and Paris, saw a TV report about Roo and began raising money to help out.
With the celebrity help, Choi collected $2,000 for a set of custom wheels for Roo, who is believed to have been born without legs.
On Valentine’s Day, appropriately enough, this sweetheart of a dog turns one.
Here’s an updated report on Scooby-Roo from Fuzzy Rescue:
Posted by jwoestendiek February 12th, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abandoned, alyssa milano, animals, birthday, celebrities, challenged, demi moore, dog, dogs, emails, first, front legs, fuzzy rescue, gangs, handicapped, legs, los angeles, michael jackson, missing, paris, pets, prince, rescue, roo, santa monica, scooby-roo, shannon elizabeth, sheila choi, south central, therapist, trainer, tweets, twitter, two-legged, valentines day