"The Dogs Were Rescued (And So Was I)"
is now out in bookstores by SourceBooks! Remember, if you buy a book between now and Halloween, part of the proceeds can go to Beagle Freedom Project
Rhyne is the author of the New York Times bestselling "The Dog Lived (And So Will I)," about her battle with cancer, and also her beagle's battle with cancer.
Last month I reviewed the book
, and talked about how Rhyne focused this book on her journey toward a more compassionate lifestyle. As you can see in this interview, Teresa is passionate about this journey. Check out our interview.
you were working on The Dogs Were Rescued (And So Was I)
did you plan then on ever
writing another book?
I certainly hoped to. I’ve always loved
writing and have taken a lot of courses, gone to a lot of writer’s retreats and
conferences and spent a lot of time with my butt in the chair actually writing,
so of course it’s nice when some of that gets published. The surprise was that
I wrote another non-fiction book—another memoir! I’d always written fiction
until, as they say, life got stranger than fiction. So I assumed I’d go back to
fiction. But apparently my life will always be stranger than fiction. After
this second book, I now think of myself as a non-fiction writer who might one
day try her hand at fiction.
2) How was the decision to write this book different from the first?
It was primarily different because of the
timing. With the first book, I had fully completed the experiences I was
writing about—and in fact, parts of the book were about a time more than five
years in the past. With this book I had an idea for a follow-up memoir, but as
I was writing and as life unfolded, a completely different story happened. It
started as a book about finding a healthier lifestyle for me and my dog and it
wound up being a book about living a compassionate lifestyle and all that
entails, and two more beagles had entered my life. So I was writing in much
more “real time.” And of course another significant difference was that it was
much more of a certainty that this one would be published and see the light of
day. With the success of the first book, I was able to sell the second book on
the basis of about a ten page outline and proposal. Then, of course, I had to
write the darn thing!
|Chris, Percival, Teresa, Daphne. (PHOTO/Teresa Rhyne)|
3) As I read through the book I realized I had witnessed many of the earlier
moments unfold from your Facebook updates (going to India, for instance). How
did that notoriety you gained from the first book impact your life and the
eventual changes you made (i.e. veganism, Beagle Freedom Project, etc.)?
The biggest challenge was getting other
people’s comments out of my head so that I could stay true to my voice while
writing. Thanks to social media, Amazon, and Goodreads reviews, I know exactly
how people felt about the first book (and in many case how they feel about the
“me” they believe they know), so it’s tempting to respond to that or to make
changes. For example, there were a few complaints about the swearing in the
first book and I hesitated then to swear in the second book. But here’s the
thing—two cancer battles made me swear! I can’t lie about that. It was true to
my voice and to change it to anything else would have rung hollow. There is
actually far less swearing in the second book, and I questioned whether I had
toned it down because of the comments or because I just didn’t swear as much in
the situations described in The Dogs Were
Rescued. Once I was comfortable that it was answer b I moved on (“get out
of my head Amazon reviewers!!”). For the most part, I feel really lucky with
the folks I’ve “met” on Facebook and in social media—people like you who love
animals as much as I do and are trying to do the right thing. I’ve learned so
much about veganism, animal rights, dog rescues, even beagles (and I’ve had
beagle companions in my life for over 25 years now). I hope I can do my part in
inspiring others to adopt a more compassionate lifestyle as well.
4) Daphne kinda just happened (Percival less so). Do you think the suddenness
with which she came into your life lessened the pain of losing Seamus, or just
channel it off into other directions?
I think in a way the adoption of Daphne
lessened the immediate pain of losing Seamus, and it also deferred it, but it
certainly didn’t eliminate it. My grief in those first few days was
immobilizing. Daphne pulled me out of that because I had to focus on her and
her extensive needs at that time. And I threw myself into that. Once Daphne was
adopted and healthy, I began to relapse into heavy despair over losing Seamus.
More than once I unexpectedly broke down in tears when doing a talk or a book
signing and mentioning Seamus. I still do! And I’m not much of a crier normally.
I would never intentionally adopt a dog that soon after losing one, but I truly
believe Daphne was meant to be with us.
5) You were already thinking about getting a BFP dog before it became a
possibility. And you were even looking at Percival. So is it possible the
Beaglerette was always going to choose him? It certainly read like it was meant
|Teresa and Percival at Beaglefest (PHOTO/Teresa Rhyne)|
Ha! Yes, that was definitely “in the
universe.” I can honestly say I had an open mind about it. I think because we
originally heard that Percival was not available for adoption, my mind had
moved on to the other options and opened up to all of them. I adored (and still adore) Rizzo and if the
decision had been left to me I honestly can’t say who I would have picked. So
I’m glad it was Daphne’s decision…though she’s certainly had days where she’s
regretted her choice. LOL. And clearly, above all else, we know Chris and
Percival were meant to be together.
6) I kept waiting for you to mention that the dogs were on a vegan diet. There
were several points where it was a logical progression, almost foreshadowing.
Are they on a vegan diet at this point?
This is something I struggle with on a
daily basis. I have not turned them vegan. I give them only vegan treats, but
their meals still have animal protein. Each vet (even a few holistic vets) I’ve
talked to has been against turning them vegan. And I feel like if there isn’t
extensive scientific study and recommendation for a vegan diet for a dog,
trying it out on a dog who has battled cancer repeatedly and another who was a
victim of a pharmaceutical lab’s testing for eighteen months is just not wise.
I keep looking into it though and I occasionally mix in V-Dog vegan dog food
just to cut down on the animal product in their meals.
7) It doesn't look like you've become a "hemp skirt-wearing hippie"
yet. Do you ever think you'll get into the kind of activism you talked about
seeing in the book (at the animal advocacy museum)? Or are you still working
toward finding other methods of making a difference?
|Daphne and Percival. (PHOTO/Teresa Rhyne)|
I’m coming to terms with each of us doing
to the best of our abilities—and my abilities (I hope!) lie in writing and
speaking about the issues, so I plan on doing as much of that as I can. You may
yet one day see me at a protest carrying a sign and, likely, bawling my eyes
out. I’ve got to acquire that kind of strength.
8) Have you eased into a place at this point where you can be comfortable
around people (other than Chris) who eat meat?
Yes, and no. It still makes me very sad to
see the way people glorify the eating of a tortured and dead animal. And I’m
appalled at the way Americans throw cheese and cream on everything. Everything!
It’s like we don’t think it has flavor if there isn’t animal secretions on it.
But, I realize I don’t get anywhere by saying things like that to folks or
getting up and walking away from the table. If, however, someone comments on my
meal, I will respond with a comment on theirs, as that seems fair. I have to be
if not comfortable, tolerant, around meat eaters since the vast majority of
people in my life are meat eaters. On the other hand, I adore being in a vegan
restaurant or at a vegan catered event where I can indulge in every single item
and everyone around me (vegan or not) is doing the same. Not a dead animal to
be seen! Complete bliss!
9) Do you feel like you've found your "tribe" at this point?
I’m getting there. I shouldn’t be surprised
it hasn’t been an easy thing to do though--it goes with my whole “not a group
person” thing. But I’m enjoying learning different aspects of veganism from a
variety of groups. There are many, many aspects to a vegan life and that keeps
things interesting for me.
10) What do you want people to take away most from this book?
I want folks to think more about their
choices and how animals are affected by those choices. Make conscientious
choices and own those choices. It’s hypocritical to say that you are an animal
lover and you can’t watch factory farming documentaries because they’re too
sad, and then turn around and eat a cheeseburger. If you’re eating a
cheeseburger, you’re contributing to that “sadness.” You’re the reason that
pain and death happens to that animal. If you eat that cheeseburger, you’re not
an animal lover. You’re a “dog lover” perhaps, but not an animal lover. Be
clear about that. Think about that. Because
that’s a choice you are making. Think about the products you’re buying. Do
beagles need to suffer and die for your mascara? Your laundry detergent? Your
shampoo? They don’t. But they will if you don’t take the time to be certain you
are shopping cruelty-free. If you don’t take time to make a conscientious
choice, animals will continue to suffer. It’s that simple. And that’s what I
want people to take away from this book—the power of their own choices.