Interview with Randy Grim, Man Who Talks to Dogs -- Day 1
You're right if you're saying to yourself right now, "Gosh, that sure isn't a glamour shot." But this is exactly how Randy Grim let me interview him last week. Randy had just brought in Mambo, the dog in the picture with him, and was spending some time calming down this dog who has probably never lived with or trusted humans before. But he trusts Randy. And that says a lot about Randy.
If you're not familiar with Randy, the organization he founded (Stray Rescue), the book about him (The Man Who Talks to Dogs) or the book he wrote about Quentin who escaped the gas chamber (Quentin the Miracle Dog) then let me be the first to introduce him to you. He's done all these things and more. He's done it all to put the spotlight on the forgotten and abandoned among our furfriends. Randy has received numerous accolades by the animal rescue community; far too many to mention here. Randy is NOT the kind of person who looks for fame but he is the kind of person who stands up for stray and feral dogs when the times require it. And the times require it now.
For a little more background on Randy let me put you on to a recent article in the Christian Science Monitor about Randy's efforts and the efforts of those who are inspired by and work with him rescuing stray and feral dogs out of one of the poorest areas in the Midwest, if not the country, East St. Louis, Illinois. He risks his life every day to save dogs who have never known human compassion, and he has been doing this for years.
Last week, Randy made time to let me visit with him at one of the Stray Rescue shelters in St. Louis. As you might expect, Randy had a lot to say and I wasn't going to stop him until he got tired of talking. The combination made for a lengthy interview so I'm cutting it up into a number of segments. Please check back each day for the next installment of the interview.
I hope you enjoy meeting this true animal friend via the blog as much as I enjoyed meeting him in person.
JW: I know you mentioned earlier that some of your best childhood memories were about dogs.
RG: Well when I was a kid I grew up in a home that had a real loving mother but an abusive father so my sister and I grew up in Washington DC and my sister and I would always bring strays home that I saw. That was the one time that my father was nice. Which was odd. He seemed to love the animals. When my dad was acting up a bit I remember stealing bowls of tuna fish, I remember doing this at five, and climbing down in the sewer and just sitting with all the cats and feeding them. Poor cats; I probably gave them all diarrhea.
JW: Lets go to one of these times.
RG: One that stands out in my mind is an Irish setter that my sister and I rescued. I was probably seven, eight years old and my sister was about ten then. We had a snow storm and we had about two feet of snow. At the time, the city wasnt as developed as it is now and there were pockets of woods, and there was a pocket of a wooded area and a dog looked frozen in the snow. We thought he was probably dead and Im touching him and hes not really reacting. My sister and I carry him back to the house. It wasnt an easy carry. It was probably a good mile. My father was there and got a good fire going, put blankets on him and we realized he was starving to death but he might make it. We took him to the vet. I had him for eighteen years.
JW: Lets stay right here. At one point you realize he might make it. What do you see?
RG: In a childs mind, oh he might make it. I hope hes nobodys dog so we can keep him." As a child that went straight through my mind right away. The other thing too, it made me at a young age it made me understand how innocent dogs are. I saw myself in him.
I saw the pain, the fear. Then I saw that he suffered. I empathized with him at that age. I think that was my big lesson in empathy. I understood him.
JW: As you see him at this time. Youre realizing youre seeing that same pain and fear. What does that do for you to be able to help him recover?
RG: A bond. It produced a bond that I never experienced before in my life and I think most dog lovers, dog guardians understand that bond really well. Hes more than mans best friend. He was my best friend.
JW: How does that make you feel that you can help him?
RG: I get told all the time, Randy, youre so wonderful what you do," and I dont think people understand that the reward I get from doing this. Its not pure unselfishness. It feeds my soul.
JW: Tell me about that.
RG: I know if it wasnt for the dogs the rescue work that I would be a lost soul out there. Its what makes me tick. Its what makes me feel that I have a purpose in life. I feel like Im making a difference. All my self-esteem comes from these guys. Im not Mother Theresa, thats for sure. I just love what I do. I feel really blessed. I never thought in a million years that it would turn into an organization, shelters, books and radio and all that stuff. Im really shy. I just got used to being the dog guy to promote the cause but in real life Im still a recluse and prefer to be with my six dogs at home.
Check back tomorrow for more of the interview with Randy Grim.