Los Angeles pet lovers.
By Lori Golden
Elayne has always included plenty of animal friendly material in her show which she takes on the road to theaters across the country. In fact, she says her boxer dog Petey’s fan mail used to outnumber hers 2 to 1.
How does a busy comic manage to have a dog while touring 10 months a year? "Actually, I toured more because I had to buy a house so I could have a dog," Elayne recalls. "And I found out I could afford a dog, but not a house. So I stayed on the road for about 7 years nonstop. I would mail the checks to L.A. and Petey would take them to the bank, do a little vacuuming, and then put on his shades and lay out by the pool, while I was on the side of the road in a snowbank in Wisconsin."
"Luckily, I lived with a wonderful guy for 7 years, so they kept each other company," she continues. "After that, for Petey’s whole life, I realized that his character judgements were far better than mine. If he didn’t like a date, he was never wrong. If only I had listened to him about my agent."
Elayne donates much of her time and resources to animal rescue across the country. In Los Angeles she actively supports Boxer Rescue, The Lange Foundation, spcaLA and other organizations.
Her love for animals, especially boxers, began as a child. "When I was growing up in Brooklyn," she says, "our boxer Carbide was the nicest member of my family."
So it was only natural, that when she grew up, she would have her own boxer… right? "Well, I got a boxer and then I grew up," she replies. "I lived on Olympic and La Jolla at the time. Of course, I was immediately evicted after 8 years as a perfect tenant, so right away I knew that I could sacrifice anything for dogs. But for the few months I lived there with him I met my neighbors and saw my neighborhood for the first time. Every day cars would stop and people would tell me their stories about growing up with a boxer. A dog connects you to the world in a way that nothing else can. "Oh, a boxer!! I had a boxer when I was growing up!!" You can be walking down the street with your mother, and no one stops and says, "Oh, a mother! I had a mother when I was growing up!"
Elayne has had many different kinds of dogs, but because she still tours half the year she’s had to cut down for the moment. "Eventually I’d like to move someplace where land is affordable and just live smack in the middle of a herd of saved everything."
Currently Elayne has a black lab named Wiley. Her boxer, Petey, is now deceased, "but always alive for me!" she states emphatically. "When Petey died I built a doggie water fountain in the driest part of Coldwater Canyon Park (Tree People), right at the spot where he always stopped on the way back from our walks and said, "You know, this would be a great little dell for happy hour"".
As for what Elayne thinks about Los Angeles and how dog owners are treated, she has a lot to say. "It’s appalling. They are welcome almost nowhere, and on any issue on parks and land use, dog owners are always marginalized as "those dog people", and treated as second class citizens. One of the heartbreaks of the last several years in L.A. was losing Coldwater Canyon Park for RESPONSIBLE dog owners. I cannot believe there has not been an expose entitled "WHO STOLE THE PARK?" For 10 years I walked my dogs, off leash, from Mulholland to Fryman, around and back. On the busiest day I might have passed a dozen other people doing the same, usually more like 5, often no one. Responsible dog owners with their pets under control who did not want them vulnerable in a "dog park". In 10 years I never saw a fight, never saw someone not clean up after his dog, saw few older people and no children. It’s a steep, strenuous climb. The house at the bottom of the hill was owned by lovely people who actually had a bench in their yard and water bowls! When the bench and bowls disappeared, we knew the house had been sold."
"These new owners welcomed us by attacking anyone who parked at the bottom of the hill with bullhorns- bullhorns! And threatening towing. They then organized the neighborhood, convincing people who had never hiked the wilderness, or even lived nearby, that dogs were biting children, you name it. A neighborhood association was formed, "public" hearings were held, and an unannounced vote took place, resulting in the park being restricted. This could only be done with the full support of Mike Feuer. It is believed by many that his office benefited substantially by giving these organizers all the restrictions they demanded in exchange for a parking lot."
"Being very concerned about safety issues myself," Elayne continues, "I went to the ranger station and asked to see the dog bite reports. There weren’t any. So now forest rangers, with bullhorns, on horses dropping pounds of un-cleaned-up poop on the trails, give out tickets if your dog is leashed, but the leash is longer than 3 feet. In the deserted wilderness. They are also legendary for writing tickets (in the several hundred dollar range) for the 30 seconds your dog gets out of the car before you leash him. Judges throw it out, but you do lose a day’s work. This harassment has destroyed the most valuable part of living here for so many. Now that I have a break after a 40-city tour, I invite anyone interested in investigating and working to change this situation to contact me through The Pet Press."
Elayne always tries to get positive animal treatment across in her comedy act. For example: "If I’m facing a theater filled with people in fur coats, I open with the anti fur material. No sense preaching to the converted. Which is why I always get paid before the show. Truth is, you can always bond with the audience over the dog and cat material, they love their animals so much. Then you can move on to the more animal friendly way of life, and maybe show them something they don’t think too much about. Bottom line is, it has to be funny first. Let the message hit people over the head in the car on the way home."
For example: "Congress doesn’t want to outlaw automatic weapons, because they say it might infringe on some hunting weapons. I think if you need a hundred rounds to kill a deer…maybe hunting isn’t your sport."
" I’m for guns," Elayne continues. "I think we should give them to everybody. Especially ducks. How can you call hunting a sport when only one side has a chance of winning? I think a real sport would be if you had to arm-wrestle the deer to the ground. Or strangle him. If you can win that one, you’ve got a right to put that head on your wall."
"People love the truth," she explains, "especially if it makes them laugh at themselves. As for change, well, every little bit of awareness helps."
In addition to creating as much awareness about animal issues as she can in her comedy shows and writing, Elayne does the little things that can make a difference, and encourages people to do the same. "Let MTV know that their use of "fighting" pitbulls and animal cruelty as a mark of coolness is ignorant and destructive. Send back catalogues featuring fur with a note; don’t patronize those designers or stores; and let them know it. And campaign for spay and neuter laws."
"Boxer Rescue L.A. placed about 400 boxers last year alone, many of them purebreds from breeders. Ursula at Boxer Rescue currently has 80 beautiful boxers available. Gillian Lange of the Lange Foundation spends her days rescuing beautiful healthy animals from death at the pound, and spends her life finding them homes. The list is endless."
"Most of these rescue organizations," Elayne adds, "survive on the tireless dedication of one person, with incredible volunteers and limited funds. It’s an endless, heartbreaking job. And yet we all work to make the shelters in this country "No Kill". Spaying and neutering would go a long, long way toward making that a reality. We have to work toward making the pounds more humane, and more adoption friendly and inviting, by demanding more funding and better personnel training, and at least minimal standards of care, which currently do not exist. Of course that would be a given if dogs and cats could vote! I always want to quit and work full time on these issues, but I realize that my true value here is to use the little bit of celebrity that I have to raise awareness, and money, everywhere I go. What I can financially contribute personally pales in comparison to what I can raise by performing for these organizations. And getting the message out in the act, well, public humiliation goes a long way toward change."
As for what others can do to make a difference, Elayne has this advice: "If everyone who has a busy life just did these few things on a regular basis-- write letters when it’s important; choose carefully where you spend your money and let companies know when you are not going to patronize them, and when you are (praise and financial support are valuable tools); and give what you can to rescue organizations,-- these things would add up finally to a more humane society. They take so little time. No one is too busy to do just that much. Okay, maybe Oprah, but nobody else."
(Elayne Boosler appears monthly on the Donny and MarieShow as their Lifestyle Reporter. Her most recent appearance promoting Boxer Rescue was a resounding success for rescue groups across the country. She can also be seen every couple of months on Politically Incorrect, and often drops by the Comedy and Magic Club in Hermosa Beach to work on her material.)
First published in August of 1999, The Pet Press has become THE only local resource for
pet lovers in the Los Angeles area. The mission of The Pet Press is three-fold:
Each issue of The Pet Press contains the following sections: