The Tao of Rudy Author Corinne Humphrey Talks About Second Acts — And Second Chances

How did your dog, Rudy, come into your life?

I was in the middle of a mid-life career and life change. I had been a Delta flight attendant for 25 years, and I was looking for something more meaningful and creative in my life. I put myself on five year-furlough, and volunteered at a no-kill animal shelter in Park City, Utah called Best for Animals.

As a flight attendant, I couldn’t have a pet but after I took a break I decided I wanted one. I kept going back to the shelter, looking for a dog that would speak to me. Rudy was not my first, second or even third choice.

Why not?

Rudy, or Bob, as they had named him in the shelter, had been in the kennel for so long. He had been badly abused, and had been adopted and returned a few times. The women at the shelter would recommend Bob for me, but he was skinny, beaten up, and getting kennel aggressive. So I took him for a walk, and immediately he calmed down. He leaned up against me, and I took him home with me.

Why did you change his name from Bob to Rudy?

I thought, “He has a new life now. He needs a new name.” I wanted something that would disassociate him from his old life. When you look at Rudy, it looks almost like he’s got eyeliner around his eyes. He stretched himself out once and his paws were crossed, his ears were back, and he gave me what almost looked like a sultry look! It was around Valentine’s Day, and it reminded me of Rudolph Valentino! That’s how he got the name Rudy.

How did The Tao of Rudy come to be?

At the time I adopted Rudy, I was taking a painting class. I painted Rudy, and the first painting that I created I called “Don’t Be Afraid to Leave the Path.” Rudy just inspired me to paint by doing normal every day dog stuff. Eventually, I had enough paintings for a book, and there were agents and editors who showed interest in it. I got a grant and then self-published the book. It’s won two awards to date.

That’s wonderful. Did you ever imagine that this could happen?

Never. I’m even teaching art classes now for kids. Rudy has added a whole new dimension to my life. I consider what I’m doing a career now!

What would you say is the appeal of The Tao of Rudy?

I think kids like it because it’s about a real dog. They like the colors and the paintings. Adults like it because of the message behind each painting, and the book on a whole.

What are the future plans for you and Rudy?

The Tao of Rudy is ready for a second printing, and I’ve done almost enough paintings for a second book. I have ideas for board games with Rudy, and puzzles and books, too. There are so many ideas I have.

We should mention that a portion of the proceeds from the book helps the Best for Animals Shelter.

Yes, I donate net proceeds to the shelter, and I still volunteer once a week. I’ve also painted for their animal fundraiser. It’s a wonderful shelter; they’ve adopted out over 800 animals last year.

Do you know what kind of dog Rudy is?

He’s a mutt, a down-and-out shelter dog.  He was advertised as an English Pointer mix. He might be part Boxer, part Pit. He’s about 6 years-old now, and I’ve had him for three years.

Has he gotten over some of the problems he had in the past?

He really has. Around the house, he has amazing manners. He doesn’t chew, and he won’t go on the furniture. Someone along the line trained him at one point. I’ve worked with trainers to help him get over his fear of being on a leash. Rudy gets along very well with other dogs, but when he’s on a leash, he gets scared.

What is your relationship like with Rudy today?

We have an amazing bond. I just love him. I’ll take extra trips to the store because I know he loves the car rides and sticking his nose out the window. Or we’ll go on the trails so he can run around. Sometimes, I’ll be on the couch and he’ll look at me. He’ll be anxious and he’ll walk into my studio. If I don’t follow him, he’ll come back and coax me in there. It’s almost like he’s saying, “Go in there and paint!” So when I start painting, he’ll relax and go off to bed. He’s an amazing, amazing dog. He’s truly my slumdog millionaire.

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