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Broadway Barks Spotlight:

Mary Tyler Moore

If you are chronicling the days and weeks on your 2013 Broadway Barks calendar then you know that February 20th is “Love Your Pet Day.” Broadway Barks is celebrating this wonderful day by releasing an interview with someone for whom every day is “Love Your Pet Day,” entertainment icon and Broadway Barks co-founder Mary Tyler Moore! Broadway Barks talked with Mary on Valentine’s Day as she opened up about her love of animals, how she spends time with her pets, and why she decided to co-found Broadway Barks with friend and Broadway legend Bernadette Peters.

Broadway Barks (BB): Tell us all about your pets. What are their names and breeds?

Mary Tyler Moore (MTM): We have four dogs. We have Shadow, who is a golden retriever. He came with that name, and we got him from a shelter that specializes in golden retrievers and Labrador retrievers. We visited the shelter, looked at all the dogs, and we fell in love immediately with Shadow. We have a pit bull named Spanky, and he also came from a shelter. Then we have Shana, who is a miniature schnauzer, and finally we have James Bond, who is a Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen (PBGV).

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BB: Why did you rescue animals, rather than buy them from a breeder or pet store?

MTM: Because the animals that are in a rescue or shelter are looking and hoping for a permanent home, and unless I—and other people—step forward, their dream is never going to come true.

BB: How did you feel about adopting a pit bull? Had you had a pit bull before?

MTM: I had never had one, but Bernadette [Broadway Barks co-founder Bernadette Peters] had a pit bull mix and she convinced me, and rightly so, that pit bulls are wonderful dogs. They are really only unpredictable if they have had the wrong kind of upbringing. Some people torment them and make them miserable while trying to make them better fighters, which I am appalled by.

BB: What is your favorite activity to do with your dogs?

MTM: Oh, just sort of scampering and moseying around the backyard, giving them cookies, and giving them treats that are good for them. The cookies are done under strict supervision, of course, because the dogs will just eat and eat if you let them.

BB: Do your dogs have any special talents?

MTM: Spanky my pit bull will come to me and sit at my feet and just stare at me. On almost every occasion that he does that I go and check my blood sugar, and it turns out that my blood sugar is very low. That is dangerous for people with diabetes, which is why I have to watch what I eat and how I exercise. What Spanky does is amazing, it really is.

BB: What naughty things do your dogs do?

MTM: (Laughter) Well, they have a “man cave” for dogs out behind the pool. It’s shielded from everyone else, and all the dogs like to congregate back there—we don’t know what they’re doing. My husband and I imagine that there is a big poker game going and they don’t want any of us to know for fear that we would close them down.

BB: Do your dogs remind you of anyone famous?

MTM: No, but there are clowns among them, and Shadow, the golden retriever is the Grand Poobah of this group, including my husband and me. In fact, I don’t think Shadow sees any difference between us and the other dogs that surround him.

BB: What do your dogs think about cats?

MTM: They have never been exposed to cats, as far as I know. They love to chase squirrels and rabbits, though, but they never catch them and that’s probably a good thing.

BB: Who is easier to communicate with: your dogs or your husband?

MTM: (Laughter) I think my dogs because they don’t compare prior behavior against what you say. It’s what you do that makes a big difference to them.

BB: Do you ever wish people were more like dogs?

MTM: Yes I do, because dogs are totally without guile and without any resentment. You only have to look at some of the dogs that come away from the inhumane, awful treatment that some people have given them; dogs always forgive. People bring their resentments into relationships with others and dogs don’t do that, even if they have been abused.

BB: Why is it so important to you to have animals in your life?

MTM: There is honest affection on their part for you, and they don’t hold grudges. They really seem to want to please you. They give me hope that I am, in fact, still growing and that possessing a real affection for animals may do them some good.

BB: Do you believe in pet therapy?

MTM: I think it’s wonderful.

BB: You love animals and you have personally saved so many, so why did you feel like you needed to do more by co-founding Broadway Barks?

MTM: Well, by just looking at the number of animals who go without homes, without affection, without knowing their names because nobody calls them by their names. We thought that these animals ought to have the opportunity to live with loving parent-like figures that will show them the world and ease them into a societal relationship with people.

BB: What has it meant to you to share your passion for animals with your friend and Broadway Barks co-founder Bernadette Peters?

MTM: A great deal. Bernadette was my initial propellant to get involved and actually do something to profess my love for animals, and to talk to people who care about animals to see what happens. My dogs are now a family group who respect each other and are affectionate with each other, and if it hadn’t been for Bernadette organizing Broadway Barks they would not be in the loving home that they are in with my husband and me. If that’s true with me and my band of dogs, it must be true a thousand times over.

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BB: Broadway Barks has reached the 15-year milestone. What is your dream for Broadway Barks in the future?

MTM: I think more awareness that we exist and that these animals exist. We need more awareness that there are no-kill shelters that will take animals in and try to instill them with the same kind of affection and love that we recognize as people.

By Charlene Sloan