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Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls Talks About How Dogs Have Influenced Her Life and Music

"Six songs on the new album mention dogs. I love dogs for their loyalty and unconditional love. They have taught me how to let go."

 |  Jan 16th 2014  |   0 Contributions


Amy Ray and Emily Saliers make up the internationally famous Grammy-award winning folk/rock duo Indigo Girls, which they formed in high school. I first met Amy many years ago at the Fox 5 Atlanta studios. She was being interviewed about her latest album and I was there to showcase an adoptable dog and cat from the Forsyth County Humane Society. 

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Amy Ray and Tender.

I knew Amy was a huge animal lover and she immediately fell in love with the black and brown mixed hound pup that we brought to the studios. She mentioned she would love to adopt the dog but knew her partner would probably place her in the doghouse if she brought home another dog. Amy had, and still has, numerous dogs and cats. Most of her dogs were found roaming on the side of the road or were discarded by people who no longer wanted them.

I recently had an opportunity to chat a little more with Amy regarding the dogs in her life and the influence they’ve had on her life and music.

Dogster: Tell me about the dogs and animals presently in your life.

Amy: Presently I only have three dogs. I had five and lost two in the last few months. They were 16 or 17 years old when they passed. One was found by a friend at a construction site. They took care of the dog in a fenced area on the site while they completed their environmental impact study. Then I was contacted by my friend and adopted the dog. The other was found by me at a local gas station. The dog was causing trouble and someone was going to shoot him. So, I quickly put him into my car and drove him to my home.

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Jack and Gracie, two of Amy's dogs.

I have a five-week-old baby girl named Ozie. Taking care of her is like taking care of 10 dogs. I won’t adopt any more dogs but maybe I’ll foster some until the baby is a couple of years old.

At present I have a Malamute mix that I got from a neighbor who couldn’t keep her, a shepherd mix found as a puppy in a box on the side of the road, and a Chow/Pekingese mix found wandering around Atlanta. Dogs always seem to find me. I’ve never gone to the shelter to adopt a dog. I believe when you open yourself up to it, they will come.

I understand that you are a big proponent of spay and neuter programs.

Yes, there are too many dogs and animals that need homes. I’m a big spay/neuter advocate. At the moment I don’t believe in breeding and we should stop breeding for five years or whatever time is needed in order to catch up. I’m sort of militant about not breeding at the moment.

As a celebrity, how do you show your support for animal rescue and spay and neuter programs?

I try to support my local shelters, no-kill facilities and humane societies. I always support programs for special needs and senior dogs, in addition to spay/neuter programs.

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Amy Ray and Jack. Photo by Chris Verene.

Fostering is a good way to get involved. And supporting groups financially, especially when the economy is weak, is very important. Even a small donation of five dollars really helps. Also transportation programs that take dogs to areas that need dogs for adoptions are wonderful programs. 

What influences have dogs and other animals had in your life, songwriting, and musical career?

It seems that I have thousands of songs that have dogs in them. Six songs on the new album mention dogs. I love dogs for their loyalty and unconditional love. They have taught me how to let go. My dog, Jack, was 18 when he died. He was originally found in the woods. He was a mixed-breed dog that looked like a 40-pound dingo. He was agile, smart and loyal.

Often, Jack would go down the trail by the river to a neighbor’s house and stay for the whole day. It was upsetting at first as to why he wouldn’t spend time at home. Then I realized it was part of him teaching me to let go. Dogs teach you to be in the moment, let go and to accept. Dogs manage pain and death better than we do. Dogs have enriched my life by keeping me focused on life with daily walks, feeding and spending time with them.

What are your recollections of your first dogs or the dogs in your past?

My family adopted a Hungarian sheepdog, a Puli, as a stray. When he died, we got another one. At one point we had six Puli puppies around. As I became an adult, I gained a better understanding of dogs and got involved in animal activism.

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Amy as a kid with one of the family Pulis.

You have a new child in your life. How important is it to have dogs and animals in a child’s life?

My dogs love Ozie and have been pretty laid back with having a baby around the house. We made sure that we left the dogs’ routines the same. Feeding and walks are the same as before. In our house, Ozie will feel like she is being raised by wolves based on all the dogs around. We place her in a baby sling and take her hiking with the dogs. It’s important to have dogs and animals in a child’s life. I believe that having animals in your life makes you more confident, raises your self-esteem and you gain a deeper connection with the world.

Amy's upcoming album Goodnight Tender, her first country music album, is due out January 28. 

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About Tim Link: All-American guy who loves to rock out to Queen while consuming pizza and Pinot Noir and prefers to associate with open-minded people who love all critters. Considers himself to be the literal voice for all animals. Author, writer, radio host, Reiki Master, Animal Communicator and consultant at Wagging Tales

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