When our friend texted “We just adopted Amy Sedaris!” we got pretty excited that we were going to get to hang out with Amy Sedaris all the time. Two seconds later, we remembered that, typically, you can’t adopt grown adults, and even if you could, Amy Sedaris would probably no longer be available.
Turns out, Amy Sedaris was our friend’s new dog. Upon meeting Amy, we discovered why she was given the unusual name: she was tiny with big eyes, and an underbite reminiscent of Sedaris’ role as Jerri Blank in “Strangers with Candy.” She was also a little eccentric: skittish and funny and snuggly all at once. The name was perfect.
Amy Sedaris came to our friend by way of Badass Brooklyn, a rescue that has gained name recognition by using recognizable names. The organization rescues dogs from dangerous shelters (primarily in the south) with over 90% kill rates. Founder and President Sara Alize Cross—who began rescuing dogs in 2011— spoke with Unleashed about how the whole "name dogs after celebs" thing came about.
“My dog was named Simone de Beauvoir. She was so philosophical, with no interest in other dogs. My friend would picture her reading the New York Times and drinking her cappuccino and smoking a cigarette. It was perfect.”
Inspired by her own dog’s celebrity aura, she imparted famous names on some of her first rescues at Badass Brooklyn. “There was a beautiful black Shepherd Lab mix that reminded me of Jacqueline Onassis. And then there was a beagle with a sweet droopy face that reminded me from The Dude from the Big Lebowski. It’s catchy—and they actually look like the people.”
Sara says that people really respond to the celebrity names, but that the symbolism goes far beyond their looks. “You have these dogs that go from waiting to be killed on a concrete floor to these amazing, fabulous lives, which they deserve.” As a bonus, potential adoptees “get a feel for the dogs’ personalities before they even meet them.”
Take Willie Nelson, a caramel-colored beagle-spaniel mix that was mellow, cool, and laid back. Or Dolly Parton, who was incredibly happy and jumping around, with a bark that sounded like singing.
“I think it’s set us apart,” says Sara. “A lot of rescues fail because it’s a tremendous amount of time and money and there’s no outside things to fund you. We’ve been able to survive and grow because we have a recognizable brand, and I think a lot of that is the celebrity names. It speaks about how we see the dogs and see the world.”
And it certainly doesn’t hurt when celebrities post on Twitter or Instagram about their namesakes. “Bobbi Brown Instagrammed the dog Bobbi Brown. Anson Mount retweeted us talking about the dog Anson Mount. Mrs. Patmore from Downton Abbey tweeted that she hoped dog Mrs. Patmore would get adopted soon. When shows are ending or movies are coming out and there’s a lot of press around them, we’ll use the character and actor names to garner more interest. We are thinking of it as a marketing thing now.”
Interested in giving a celebrity pup a forever home? Meet some of the Brooklyn Badass dogs currently up for adoption:
Cindy Lou Who
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