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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sam Waterston, Dog Lover

Here’s something different from Fetchdog.com. It’s an article and interview written and conducted by Glenn Close, about Sam Waterston and his dogs. Sadly, one of Sam’s dogs, Benedict, passed away a short time ago. (I still get teary-eyed thinking of my faithful childhood dog, Speedy, who passed away over 30 years ago.) There is a nice picture of Sam and Benedict on Fetchdog.com, at the link below.

Lively Licks: Profiles of Dogs and Their People...Q&A with Sam Waterston
Posted on Aug 19, 2008 By Glenn Close

When I was a senior in college, I fell in love with Sam Waterston. He was on Broadway, performing the role of Benedict in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. He was totally captivating - sexy, funny, smart and gorgeous.

In 1986, Sam and I were cast as husband and wife, in a Broadway play called Benefactors. The year before, he had been nominated for an Academy Award for his astounding performance in The Killing Fields. Since then, because of his consistently superb work on stage and on screens, both big and small, Sam has established himself as one of the most universally loved and respected - indeed iconic - actors working today.

Sam is a truly committed, civilized man who is passionate about his family and his country. He is entering his 15th season as the much revered Jack McCoy, the newly promoted D.A. on Law & Order - a series that continues to rewrite the annals of television history. This summer Sam triumphantly returned to his theatrical roots, appearing on stage as Polonius in the New York Shakespeare Festival's production of Hamlet, at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park.

So we pay tribute to a friend whose Benedict mesmerized me thirty-five years ago, and pay special tribute to his beautiful herding dog...another Benedict...who tragically passed away just a few weeks ago. We celebrate the dignity, loyalty and vigilance of an exceptional dog. Although they still have a lively complement of canines, I know that Benedict is irreplaceable and will be sorely, sorely missed. Sam felt it appropriate to remember Benedict as he is described in this profile: a beloved dog who gallantly fulfilled the task that was his birthright and to which he was passionately committed - guarding his flock.

Glenn Close: When and how did you become a dog lover?
SW: From before I was born, there were dogs in the family. When I was a boy, the family dog was a fine, strong, proud, smart, and noble standard poodle by the name of Coco.

GC: Why dogs?
SW: Warmth, energy, enthusiasm, courage, loyalty, interest, amusement.

GC: How have you balanced work with your dogs?
SW: We have a working dog, a sheep-guarding dog, a Maremma, which is an Italian breed. He is an aristocrat who spends all his time with his sheep. Occasionally, he will accept friendly attention from us, and friends of ours he comes to trust, but, mostly his work makes him either uncurious about, or distrustful of, two-legged visitors. Our other dogs have more time for us, when there are no squirrels, chipmunks, or skunks to chase, but they all have work to do, missions to complete, except, perhaps, for the Bijon, whose mission is my wife.

GC: Have you ever rescued a dog?
SW: We adopted a Bijon who had come to our veterinarian after her mistress died, and who immediately became my mother-in-law's devoted companion. In a way, they rescued each other.

GC: How did your present dogs come into your life?
SW: We have three house dogs. One of them is the just-mentioned Bijon, who was the companion dog to my mother-in-law. We inherited her when my mother-in-law died. We have two Norfolk Terriers. A neighbor has an excellent Norfolk, charming and eccentric, and we wanted one of our own, and then we wanted another.

GC: What kinds of cars would your dogs drive?
SW: Our Bijon would not drive. She would be driven. Perhaps in a Citroen, if it were black, and the driver was trustworthy. Our male Norfolk would drive a Morgan, flat out, pedal to the metal. The female would drive a Swatch. Our Maremma would drive a very old, beat up, Land Rover with no top.

GC: What would be the title of your dogs' autobiographies?
SW: Maremma: My Sheep. Bijon: Taking Care. Male Norfolk: Be Afraid, Rodent. Female Norfolk: Winding Him Up: How to live happily among much bigger dogs.

GC: Do you ever take your dogs to work with you?

SW: Yes.

GC: What is your dogs' pet peeve about you?
SW: Except for the Maremma, being left behind. For the Maremma, being taken away from his sheep.

GC: What is your pet peeve about your dogs?
SW: Disobedience, moderated by admiration for their independence and curiosity about their obsessions.

GC: What musical instruments would your dogs play?
SW: Bijon: accordion. Maremma: Mountain Horn, but no time to practice. Norfolks: he, siren, she, kazoo.

GC: What excites your dog the most?
SW: Intruders.

GC: Who do your dogs sleep with?
SW: Other dogs.

GC: Where are your dogs' favorite spot at home?
SW: Maremma: High ground near sheep. Norfolks: He, high stool at window or back of easy chair; She, top step of porch. Bijon: next to my wife.

GC: If your dogs were famous people, who would they be?
SW: Maremma: Fellini. Bijon: Gracie Allen. Norfolk, he: Jimmy Stewart ; she, Giulietta Masina

GC: What is your dogs' idea of perfect happiness?
SW: Having all the people/animals they care about very nearby.

GC: What is your idea of perfect happiness?
SW: Ditto.

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samfan said...

That is such a good article! I feel sorry for Sam, losing a pet is so hard! Thanks for the article!

Anonymous said...

I wonder what the names of his dogs are?