Stacey and Rue
New York based writer, producer and puppet artist Stacey Weingarten found her little rescue dog Rue on Petfinder. Because nothing was known about Rue’s background, Stacey wondered what had happened to her to end up at the pound. This wondering ended up in the writing of a short story, which quickly escalated into a musical: “Rescue Rue”!
With this musical, that tells the story of little Rue, Stacey wants to teach kids and families about dog adoption.
Can you introduce yourself?
My name is Stacey and I’m a writer/producer, director, and puppet artist in NYC. For my “day job”, which is actually mostly nights, I’m the Puppet Wrangler at Avenue Q off-Broadway. I also teach Puppetry at Pace University which has been incredible. In every other waking hour, I do the other fun stuff — write, produce, direct.
How did you get Rue?
I adopted Rue from the Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue. I saw her on Petfinder while somewhat casually looking for a dog a few years back (I really wanted one, but wasn’t sure I was ready), and she was going to be at an adoption event in Brooklyn. I decided to go and it was pretty much love at first sight… but I didn’t rush into submitting an application for her because I was worried she was the first dog I ever went to look at and I wanted her. But it was meant to be! Within a week, she was home with me. I learned it’s simultaneously never going to be the right time and always going to be the right time to adopt a dog!
Is she your first rescue pet?
Sort of yes, sort of no. She’s my first pet that’s all my own, who I adopted on my own, and am entirely responsible for. That said I grew up with a rescue dog name Baby, a rat terrier who was a Hurricane Katrina rescue brought north from Louisiana to find a home in the NY/NJ tristate area.
What kind of dog is Rue? And do you know anything about her background?
Rue is a Chiweenie (chihuahua-dachshund mix), or so we all think. Looks about right, though– I haven’t done any DNA tests on her, but from all the other photos of Chiweenies I’ve seen, it seems totally accurate! There’s no record of Rue before she arrived at the shelter in West Virginia– she was picked up off the street with no tags or ID chip, severely underweight and with fleas.
You wrote a musical about Rue! Can you tell us a bit about that?
I did! I got the idea for the musical while wondering what Rue’s background was. Since no one knows anything about her from before the shelter in WV, and she’s such a wonderful companion, I wondered what happened for her to end up at the pound, and for that first family of hers not to have searched far and wide to find her– if I’d ever lost her, I would never stop looking! I wondered if she even had a family, what happened to her on the street, and how she ended up at the shelter, at first using contextual clues about Rue to write a short story (I knew a few things — she had a bald spots on her head and tail from fleas, was very underweight, has a cut on her tongue, is sometimes skittish around tall people), but since my first medium of choice is usually librettos/musicals, the short story I wrote soon became a libretto script. On a whim I submitted the libretto, without music, to the NY Children’s Theater Festival. To my surprise, the show was chosen for the festival and the rest is history! We’re going to be presenting the show again at the NY Musical Theatre Festival this summer (“NYMF”), which I’m really excited to do. It’ll be another chance to share Rue’s story with audiences in the city, and hopefully be a platform to find additional future audiences for the show as well.
What is the best thing about Rue?
I know I can’t say “everything”, but I want to. She’s got a plucky personality, she’s well-behaved, and totally adorable. Just wants to be with you all the time, and that’s partially why I wanted to get a dog– I wanted a companion. You know how people say dogs and their owners look alike? Well, personality-wise, Rue is basically me in dog form. To steal a lyric from Rescue Rue, we’re the perfect pair! But I have to say — one of my favorite random things about Rue is she loves to jump into her bag and go with me wherever, whenever. She’s the first dog I’ve ever had that actually liked her bag and liked wearing sweaters. If it’s raining, she waits to go outside until I put on her raincoat.
Would you adopt again?
Absolutely! I really want to foster but I’m afraid I’ll be a foster failure, and I’m not sure I’m read to have two fulltime yet… but yes. Definitely. Now having Rue, with her being so amazing, and learning about all the other wonderful dogs that have come north from the Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue’s efforts, I would absolutely adopt.
How would you convince others to adopt a pet, rather than buy one?
By writing a musical, of course– isn’t that what you’d do?! Okay, maybe not. But it’s something that I’ve done. I hope it will teach kids and families about dog adoption, so they learn that it’s the way to go when you’re ready to bring a dog into your family. When I was a kid we didn’t have adopted dogs — we had dogs from breeders; I loved all of those dogs very much and am glad to have had them in my life (and still glad to have Fred, our 15 year-old family Yorkie!) — but– now that I have Rue and I know more about the dogs that need rescue, both how wonderful they can be and their plight, I can’t imagine doing anything other than adopting.
Alternatively, I’d convince people by introducing them to Rue and explaining her story and how much having a dog enriches your life. To think that Rue was in a high-kill shelter on doggy death row? My sweet little Rue?!
(The double whammy is that I’d introduce people to Rue after they see Rescue Rue!)
The photos in this post were not taken by myself, but by Larry Hamilton/ Blue photography.