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DOGS, DOGS, DOGS….

Doris’ Day’s secretary from the 70’s, Mary Anne Barothy, tells a story of the star and her dogs

It is well known Doris Day has been a lifelong animal lover and advocate.  While recovering from her train/auto accident at age 15 in 1937 in Cincinnati, her dreams of becoming a professional dancer were crushed. She recalls her small dog Tiny helped her through that difficult time in her life.  “He never left my side, understood my moods, and gave me the kind of companionship that only a dog can bestow… It was during this time that I began a lifelong love affair with dogs, a sentiment known only to dog lovers—and cat lovers, too. Their affection and caring is a relief from tensions and anxiety” she remarked.

In 1971, Doris co-founded Actors and Others for Animals along with Richard and Diana Basehart, Lucie Arnaz, Angie Dickinson and others. Doris’s own home became a place of refuge for many stray, abandoned pets. It was not unusual for people to drop dogs and cats over her property gate. Doris never turned any of them away. She made sure they got the veterinary care they needed and she found loving homes for them.  Her limit for her own home was eleven and they were all well cared for.

I was serving as her secretary during the time when Doris was featured in her own TV shows. When her first TV special THE DORIS MARY ANNE KAPPLEHOFF SPECIAL  aired in 1971 on CBS, she had several of her four legged co-stars, along with Perry Como and Rock Hudson. Daisy June, a collie mix, was highlighted on the show, and Doris later remarked to me that Daisy sure got a lot of fan mail after that TV special aired.  She also said she received letters from a lady in southern Florida who ran a shelter. The lady told her after her TV special aired, people came in droves and adopted every dog and cat in the facility within a couple of days. Needless to say, Doris was thrilled with that news.

The DORIS DAY SHOW finished filming in December 1972.  I had planned to fly home to Indianapolis to spend the Christmas holiday with my mother. I would be excused from my secretarial duties for Doris during that time, and I hadn’t often been away.  Doris’s Mom, Alma, was planning to fly to Texas to be with family for Christmas.  Doris was fine with Alma and me being away because she had a lovely, young live-in housekeeper, Nada, who would be with her.

To the surprise and shock of all, Nada,  who had been with Doris for the past 4 months, got word her mother in Yugoslavia was ill. She needed to fly home to be with her.  Needless to say, Doris did not wish to be alone with all the dogs and their responsibilities for an extended time.  I sensed her agitation.  I called my mother to explain the situation and Mom was fine with my staying with Doris and then coming home after a couple weeks when things were ‘”back to normal.”

I moved into Doris’s home, and she gave me the front bedroom for my two-week stay until her mom and Nada returned.  My bedroom was just across from her large master bedroom which overlooked the pool and back yard.  She loaned me four of her “kids” for the night —Bobo & Charlie, two black poodles, along with Rudy and Schatzie, two dachshunds. They all got along and slept between my bed and the other twin bed.  Doris had the other seven kids in her boudoir.  It was all very cozy and we had fun.  My two-week stay at her home turned into almost a two-year stay. Needless to say, I learned a LOT about dogs from Doris.

I must say we were very lucky that the eleven dogs got along as well as they did.  They lived in the house and would occasionally run outdoors and wander around her spacious back yard.  The only time we had to really be on guard was when Biggest, the newest member of the family, would sometimes try to pick a fight with Rudy, an elderly dachshund. Doris’s mother would always say about this dog, “Rudy’s so old he voted for Lincoln.”

Doris would always help feed the dogs. We had a section of her kitchen which was considered the dogs’side. We would get all the bowls out and start preparing each bowl with some canned food, along with cottage cheese and some grated carrots and maybe some cut-up meat. It was a canine cuisine corner and we both made sure the kids ate well. These canine critters had it made!  Doris would do anything for her babies.

Doris’s passion for animal welfare grew and  became a lifelong and dedicated pursuit for her.  She really began to devote her life to animal welfare. She has had a voice for the small critters and people have listened.

Click back to the website and purchase Mary Anne’s unique history of her life as Doris Day’s secretary Day at a Time: An Indiana Girl’s Sentimental Journey to Doris Day’s Hollywood and Beyond.