Pets and People, a healthy relationship
an interview with Diane Keaton
Thousands of perfectly wonderful animals are desperate to find a good home; their life may depend on it. “Every person who loves animals can make a difference,” cheers actress Diane Keaton. “The animal you adopt will return the favor, and make a huge difference in your life.”
Can she guarantee that? Keaton laughs during a telephone conversation, “Well, sure. I can honestly tell you every dog I’ve ever had has taught me something.” In fact, the Oscar winning actress even credits a dog for her decision to adopt children later in life. “Look, what I gained from my old dog Jonesy. I was given Jonesy as a gift. No, she was not the dog I had in mind. However, I fell in love with Jonesy. I learned a lot about my capacity for love from Josie.”
Keaton’s current dog, Red, was a dumped dog. She was working on the movie “The Only Thrill” (with Diane Lane and Sam Shepherd) in 1997 when she found Red. The movie was being made in Austin, TX, and Diane was simply walking down the street when Red ambled up to her.
Keaton who won her Oscar for “Annie Hall” in 1977 says, “I thought, ‘I’ve gotta get rid of this dog.’ I had another dog at the time... Jonesy who had been with me about 12 years. I tried to get somebody else to take Red. I offered incentives to people on the set, like you know, money, cash. I said, ‘Hey, anyone want this dog? I have money, money.’ Still, no one took Red. I am so glad they never did. I love Red dearly; and he was just the found dog no one wanted. Not even for money. In return, look at the love I get. Worth more than the money, right? I think.”
Red is likely a shepherd/corgi mix, and according to Keaton, one ugly pup. “Okay, he’s a horrible looking dog,” she laughs. “I know that. He has the body of a shepherd and the legs of a corgi.”
Keaton continues, “The shelter animals have done nothing wrong. Not every dog or cat is the right match for everyone. Spend time with the dog and after a while you’ll know.”
Keaton says she has a special place in her heart for the older dogs, in particular. “They’re least likely to find a home, and frankly I love them. These are dogs that frequently have been at homes; they have done nothing wrong – their owners have maybe passed on or moved and not taken the dog. It breaks my heart to think they’ve been passed over.”
Now 60, critics thought she was likely to even be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress in 2004 for “Something’s Gotta Give.” She was nominated but did not win.
Is the way we view age in our society detrimental to older people as well as senior pets? “Yes,” she says, without missing a beat. “In life, there are young people and there are older people. I do not have to be the star, but I am moving onto playing older people. Well, I mean I feel I do not go gently into the dark night. I mean you have to fight all the way for things that matter. Stay active and never concede. I fear this idea of ageism is too rampant in every aspect of our life. An older dog has as much to give – no, I think an older dog has more to give than a younger one. Certainly, that older dog or cat might be more appreciative that you are giving them a second chance, and a home. It’s a wonderful thing to do.”
At one time Keaton wanted to open her own animal shelter. That task proved insurmountable, so instead she became involved with the Helen Woodward Animal Center in Rancho Santa Fe, CA, and is a huge supporter of their campaign “IAMS Have A Heart: Home 4 The Holidays.” This sweeping national campaign includes almost 2,000 shelters around the country that have been responsible for the adoption of one million animals around the holiday season.
“Isn’t that marvelous,” she says. “It shows we can all matter. Of course, we can. I am all for people adopting around the holidays if they do it for the right reasons. But there are pets needing homes year-round,” adds Keaton, who is clearly not a fan of pet stores. “Shelters are for me, there are so many unwanted animals it breaks my heart. You try taking an animal back to a pet store if there is a problem. No, that is not going to happen. So, if people had a problem with the pet, they’d just dump it somewhere or throw it into the pound.”
Some people say animals really do appreciate when you adopt them.
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"Pets and People, a healthy relationship
an interview with Diane Keaton"
Steve Dale is certified by the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. He's the author of "My Pet World," a syndicated newspaper column (Tribune Media Service), and he the host of syndicated Steve Dale's Pet World and the Pet Minute...