Playwright Sarah Hunter on why ‘Dogs are Better than People’

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Written and performed by Sarah Hunter, developed and directed by Jessica Lynn Johnson,’Dogs are Better than People’ is an eccentric romp through drinking, bad men, and fabulous dogs who tell Sarah’s story. (Sarah Hunter)

In tribute to all her knowledgeable dogs over the years, writer/performer Sarah Hunter decided to let them tell her story: Lilly the Airedale. along with the Chiweenie duo Koa and Louis the Fourteenth, and several others, spill all about her humorous journey beginning with her divorce in Chicago, frustration and bad relationships, to revelation and celebration in finding a “working relationship” in sobriety with Matthew, a special man who appreciates both her and her dogs.

Intrigued by a play’s title and a devoted dog Mom myself, I decided to speak with Sarah to find out more about her play’s creation. To my surprise, I found out she is also a retired English teacher (as I am), although she taught for more years than I did. I was also interested to find out about her European travels with student groups, something I always thought I would have loved to do.

First, I asked Sarah about the dogs who tell her story and she shared, “Dogs are my first loves. Growing up, I had my springer spaniel, Toby, to talk to when things got tough with my family. He always gave me a sloppy kiss and comforted me whenever I needed it. He inspired me to write this piece, along with all the other dogs who have loved me and whom I have adored. So, I decided the best way to give them credit for being a part of my life was to BECOME them and let them speak.”

I always tell people that my dog Cody rescued me after I adopted him. Do you believe the unconditional love and emotional support you get from a devoted dog is one of the best presents you can give yourself in life?  Sarah responded, “Oh, yes. I think the presence of a dog, with its head on my knee or in my lap, is the best therapy. It’s hard to remain glum or irritated for long when there’s an enthusiastic, loving little pair of eyes begging for a piece of chicken or wagging her tail for a walk… always nonjudgmental, always pure love.”

What can you tell me about the ups and downs on your dating life in the play? “I think dogs are God’s gifts to us, but men… well, I’ve made mistakes along the way until I met the right guy who I have been with for a decade. But all dogs have gotten along great with me, including those featured in the play including Lilly the Airedale and my two very stubborn Chiweenies.”  

Do you also talk about your years as an English teacher as seen through the eyes of your dogs?  No doubt teachers on Zoom often find their pets clamoring for attention during online classes! Sarah shares, “At one point in my show, I have Sarah (me, the main character) grading essays on the couch and swearing out loud. Lilly makes a comment about what Sarah thinks of the essays and then says she’s grateful she’s a dog instead of an English student.”

I know you led several tours of Europe with students. Was there a favorite place you especially loved sharing with them? “I’m in love with Paris, and the kids loved it too — the nighttime boat ride down the Seine, the trip to the chocolate factory, the ice cream parlors, the Louvre, the cafes, everything. even going to Versailles, a place I find to be magic,” she shares. “And they did too.” 

Personally, I love Paris too and took forward to when we can again travel the world since there is no comparison to being in the presence of history as opposed to just reading about it in a book. Sarah adds, “Absolutely. And I hope the audience will enjoy my whacky sensibilities about so many aspects of my life as well as my appreciation of the wisdom of dogs!”

Sarah Hunter’s ‘Dogs Are Better Than People’ is part of the Whitefire Theatre Solofest 2021 Livestream on Saturday, March 13 at 7p.m. Tickets are $15.99, available at www.whitefiretheatre.com with a portion of the show’s proceeds being donated to Pasadena Humane, Hand In Paw Rescue, and Soi Dog Foundation.