Zen and the art of Rudy
Was Bob the right dog for Corinne Humphrey?
The rescued tan-and-white Pointer mix lunged and growled against Furburbia’s glass window when toddlers walked by. Humphrey recalls eliciting a similar response from Bob herself. As a Delta Air Lines flight attendant, she hadn’t owned a dog in 35 years. Given Bob’s volatile temperament and his history three owners in as many years; beaten, then rescued — Humphrey remembers being quite shocked when the staff at Summit County Friends of Animals recommended she take him home as her pet.
"I had been to Furburbia four times and he was not my first choice, second choice or third choice," Humphrey confesses. "I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. That dog is vicious.’"
Later, to humor the staff, Humphrey took the rebellious canine on a test-walk, and the moment they were outside, he mellowed out and showed an underbelly of affection that changed Humphrey’s mind. Two years later, Bob, whose name has since become "Rudy" to better reflect his romantic Rudy Valentino character, has not only remained Humphrey’s pet, but is the inspiration for her paintings and her first children’s book, "The Tao of Rudy."
Words of wisdom accompany each bold and playful illustration with an abstract Rudy and his distinctive tan-and-white-stamped hide as the focal point. "What dog is me?" poses one a reference to the perpetual question of Rudy’s particular breed. "It doesn’t matter," Rudy concludes. On the next page, Rudy is jumping after bunny rabbits, leash loose and flapping in the air, with a backdrop of the moon (Rudy has a "prey instinct" says Humphrey). "Don’t be afraid to shoot for the moon," says the frolicking Rudy.
The original painting for the book was supposed to be a landscape exercise for an adult art course. Then Humphrey painted over the scene with a path and Rudy, pulling her off the trail. "Don’t be afraid to leave the path." She attributes the mantra to Rudy.
"I saw Sheila Norgate, this Australian artist, speak at the Meyer Gallery she was so funny and inspiring," she remembers. "She said, ‘Don’t be afraid to change your painting.’ So I changed my painting."
Now, Humphrey’s home can barely contain the work. Paintings of Rudy line her hallways and grace her bedroom walls. Already, Humphrey has paintings for her next book, which continues to share the messages that she has learned from Rudy lessons that she says have taught her to be brave as she reinvents her life.
Two years and two trainers later, Rudy has become more refined, more like his underbelly self. He continues to possess his "prey" instinct, chasing other animals when they are near, and continues to be a little rowdy on his walks, but he quickly becomes docile at home, lounging on the carpet, attentive to Humphrey’s every move.
"He was a nervous dog and he was nervous because Corinne was nervous," remembers Rudy’s first trainer, Tonya Landon, owner of Diamond in the Ruff. "Rudy is one of those dogs that is more spiritual. He’s one of those wise dogs. It’s just a feeling you get He’s extremely in tune with Corinne. Extremely."
But taking Rudy to heart has meant more than transforming Rudy’s attitude. Humphrey has adapted, too. "Training Rudy was really about training Corinne to be more confident," Landon says. "With dogs who are in tune, you have to really work on yourself, because if you get afraid, they will act aggressively to protect you."
Humphrey does not currently fly with Delta. Before inviting Rudy into her life, a few years ago, she volunteered to go on furlough to ease the company’s finances, and moved to Park City permanently. She worked for the Park City Chamber/Bureau, and continues to write freelance articles for magazines something she began doing on her trips overseas. Since Rudy, she has not made plans to return to flying, but to stay put and pursue her dreams of more books and potentially a clothing line based on her paintings though, incidentally, she did manage to sell her first book while a passenger on a plane flight to her first book signing in San Francisco last week. The man traveling in the seat next to her purchased it, and proceeded to ask her on something of a date. "He asked me, ‘How many of these do I need to buy to get your attention?’" she says. "I said, ‘1,000.’" The two plan on meeting again soon, and why not? As Rudy says, lying on his back, belly up, in "The Tao of Rudy": "Just roll with it."
Book signings for ‘The Tao of Rudy’
Dolly’s Bookstore, 510 Main St., Park City.
When: Dec. 8 from 2 to 4 p.m.
How much: Free.
The Spotted Frog Bookstore, The Redstone Towne Center
When: Dec. 15 from 2 to 4 p.m.
What: Coloring contest for kids, book signing.
How much: Free.
For more information: visit http://www.thetaoofrudy.com .
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