(No animals were harmed in the making of this interview recording but some did talk, and quite fluently.)
Julie and Matt, what was the inspiration behind rescuing Ruby?
Julie Roberts: “We were actually going to have a friend for Lucie and Cosmo. [Lucie and Cosmo are Julie’s dogs that now live with her mom. Lucie and Cosmo were not able to be moved because of their age, so when Julie and Matt moved into their new home in Tennessee, it was advised from the vet that Lucie and Cosmo stay put with Julie’s mom.] Matt loves Lucie, and he says if I am going to visit Lucie [at my mom’s], I should kiss her on her head and say, ‘This is from Matt.’
Cosmo, and our other precious dog, Jessie, are both from the same rescue in LA, an amazing organization called Tobies Small Dog Rescue. Jessie connected with Mama right away and she never leaves her side. It’s so sweet! As for Cosmo, we used to joke that he was my first husband. He’s always acted that way and to this day, when he leaves the vet, they’ll tell him, “Okay, let’s get you back to your wife.” It makes me laugh every time I hear those words. It’s hard, though, because he’s much older now and his diabetes makes life challenging at times. One of the reasons we moved houses last year was to be closer to the dogs and Mama since the older dogs didn’t do well around our young energetic puppy. We still give him his necessary fluids three times a week, which requires a long needle in his back. Matt does his best to hold him while I set up the drip line. Cosmo hates it. But maybe what he hates more is that Matt is officially my husband now! Haha!
When we were going to look for a dog [at the Nashville Humane Society] I said, ‘Let’s just go look in the puppy room,’ and the puppy room had all the dogs named as vegetables. Ruby’s name was Carrot. I said, ‘Let’s hold Carrot,’ and so Matt held Carrot and then I held Carrot and the way she looked at me with those beautiful eyes, I said, ‘I think she likes us!’”
Matt Baugher: “I think so often dogs choose the humans just as much as the humans choose the dogs.”
Speaking of dogs choosing their humans, Julie and Matt go on to tell me about Maya.
Julie Roberts: “We were actually interested, from the pictures we had seen [online], in Chickpea, another one in Maya’s litter. We actually liked Chickpea because she looked so much like Ruby. We made our way to Wags and Walks Nashville. We knew we wanted a mix, like Ruby. And they said that Maya was a Pittie mix. So, we had an interview with Katherine who is head of Wags and Walks Nashville, who I would recommend for anyone interested in adopting. They have more than Pittie mixes, but they really take care of these babies that need a home. They pull them out of kill shelters that are going to have puppies.”
Matt Baugher: “When we went [to the Wags and Walks Rescue] Chickpea was adorable and rambunctious, but Maya, actually Lima Bean, would just kind of shake when you held her and was just bonding with us immediately. And then she started kissing Julie and that put it over the top! The foster [human] dad who had agreed to foster this litter for the [dog] mom said, ‘She [Lima Bean] hasn’t kissed us one time!’”
Where does the name Ruby come from?
Julie Roberts: “We were filling out the paperwork [at the Nashville Humane Society] and we Googled dog names, and we said, ‘What about this, what about this,’ and we got to Ruby and Matt said, ‘Ruby. She looks like Ruby.’ [Ruby starts barking in the background during our interview, almost like she was approving of her name choice!]
Maya, where did you get your British accent?
Maya: “Did you know that Pit Bull Terriers are banned from the UK? I learned this from Ruby, who goes to school at Woof Club. My actual lineage hasn’t been confirmed, but because of my accent [that my human parents give me when speaking in my voice] I can only assume that somewhere in my heritage there must have been British pups who were rescued and brought to the US for safety.”
Ruby, how do you feel about having a 6 month old pup-sister?
Ruby: “Here’s the thing, Sara. I always thought I wanted a playmate growing up, and while Maya is absolutely lovely to have around, having a little sister can be really annoying. I am much more a fan of going to school at Woof Club, playing with my friends, and then leaving them there. Maya is constantly wanting to play with me, like all day, every single day. Also, Maya likes to take all the attention away from other humans trying to love on me. To make me feel better, my parents have given me extra one on one quality time. Sara, have you heard of ‘The 5 Love Languages’? I’m much more of a ‘Quality Time’ and ‘Words of Affirmation’ dog, and I’d say Maya is an ‘Acts of Service’ and ‘Personal Touch’.”
Julie, do you feel like the pups are sensitive to your Multiple Sclerosis?
Maya: “I know that my mom is probably going to say that I just want to play, play, play all the time and I’m not sensitive to her emotions when she’s not feeling well. And I would like to address this. In my defense, I am a 6 month old puppy, and right now my love language is playing, so anytime my mom isn’t feeling well, I like to make her feel better the same way I would feel better; with PLAY! So while my playing might be portrayed as not caring, I am simply expressing my heart in the best way I know how!”
Ruby: “I am a very sensitive soul. It’s ingrained in me to deeply feel everything mom and dad are going through. I have listened to Beauty In The Breakdown: Choosing to Overcome by Julie Roberts with Ken Abraham on Audible because I cannot read the text and I deeply feel everything my mom talks about in that book. Beauty In The Breakdown is such a great story of strength, perseverance, courage, and overcoming life challenges. Have you read it Sara?
[My answer was yes, Ruby, I have read it! I feel the same way that Ruby does about Julie’s book where she talks all about her journey of conquering MS, the real life experiences of the Country Music industry, and Hollywood movie industry letdowns. I also tell Ruby that one of the neat projects I got to work on as a photographer was photographing the book cover for Beauty In The Breakdown.]
Julie Roberts: “If I’m having a bad day, she [Ruby] will just come up and kiss me! Part of my therapy for MS is I have to exercise, along with the therapy from my neurologist. And they help me to exercise. Ruby loves the trails. It’s interval training, honestly, because you’re up hill and you’re down.”
Let’s talk about the “Country Classics” series you’re doing on social media, Julie. Tell us how that started, and what song do you think Ruby and Maya would choose for you to sing?
Julie Roberts: “When I’m driving to mama’s house, or I’m driving to the dogs, or to Petsmart or Petco, I’m listening to these classic country songs that have always been healing for me. My friend, Heidi, recently said, “I’m so glad you’re doing these classic country songs because when I hear them, they just make me feel relaxed. They make me feel like how I was 20-30 years ago. They make me feel safe.” And that’s how they make me feel. And that is why, honestly, truly, for myself, that I started to do the series. I just started to play them around here. One day Matt recorded me, and I didn’t even know he was. We learned that people are turning to those things that are comforting, that have comforted them in the past, whether it’s music or whatever. For me, it’s always been music. Now it’s dogs and music.”
Ruby: “I am a fan of music in the house! In fact, my favorite part of being a music-pup is that I get to meet all the band members when they come over to the house for practice [prior to this season of COVID-19 restrictions]. Although I realize this would be impossible, I would love to learn how to be a drummer. The drummer is always my favorite person. To me, the drummer in a band is the soul of the music. He sets the beat of the song so I just know that the beat of his heart must be good. Back to your question, which song do you think I would choose on the ‘Country Classics’ series, I would say any song with a great beat.”
Maya: “I really just like to be in the audience listening to the music. Julie Roberts hasn’t covered this in her ‘Country Classics’ series yet, but the song I would choose is ‘Some Broken Hearts Never Mend’ by Don Williams because I like low, calm tones, and one of the lyrics is, ‘My love for you will never die,’ and that is very me.”
Ruby: “I did want to mention that a favorite song of mine is a song that my mom, Julie Roberts, has recorded called ‘Just ‘Cause We Can.’ I love this song so much because she sings, ‘Let’s get away, just because we can.’ It’s a beach song and I absolutely love going to the beach.”
Maya: “Oh, I thought of one more! It’s not technically a classic country song, but Norah Jones has a great dog song that I think my mom would sing really well. It’s all about how awesome her dog is, and I think that’s just the most perfect thing to sing about!”
Julie, you’ve always been very inspiring with your struggles, like how you share in your vulnerable book, “Beauty In The Breakdown” about your MS journey and others. How have the dogs helped you through this current difficult season?
Julie Roberts: “The dogs help me, but it is hard. When all of your shows are canceled. All of the stuff from March on are canceled, and it’s like, ‘Okay, what am I supposed to do?’ I even made out a resume to get a part time job working with dogs. I haven’t sent it in because then I started enjoying learning and re-teaching myself guitar and piano. Matt always says, ‘You don’t have to do that. But if you want to, and if you love it, and if your heart feels like you want to work with dogs, then do it.’ I even thought about going to school online to become a vet tech. I always thought music was my purpose, and I always prayed about it, and then I thought, ‘Maybe I’m supposed to do something else, too!’ So then I started searching. I was applying to these schools to do online courses. I talked to our vet, and she said, “Are you ready to cry every day because a dog has to be put to sleep?” And I can’t do that. I want to help dogs, and then I thought well maybe one day I’m supposed to have a rescue, and just rescue dogs and rehabilitate them.”
Matt Baugher: “Julie has a passion, a deep passion for three things. Many things, but three big ones; music, which is a no-brainer, fitness and dogs. We all have times where we struggle. So, if you were being honest, like a lot of artists right now, you’ve really struggled. ”
Julie, you’ve shared before that your dream is to have 5 rescue dogs like Maya and Ruby. If you could make dogs your world, what would it look like, and how did that passion begin?
Julie Roberts: “I would have something like the farm where she [Ruby] goes for school and has fun. [Ruby goes to puppy school at The Farm at Natchez Trace.] I would love that or some sort of rescue. Rescue as many as I could, rehabilitate them as needed.
I grew up with dogs. It was different, though. They were outdoor dogs. We didn’t send them to daycare. I didn’t even know what daycare was until I was living in LA. My first dog was a Pit Bull, which is interesting. His name was Spike. Everyone in the neighborhood was afraid of Spike where I lived. Everyone was so afraid of Spike that he had to stay outside on a chain, and I hated that. And that’s why I want to rescue Pit Bulls, because I don’t want them to be on a chain. I know that they’re good dogs. Spike was good to my sisters and me. He lived a frustrated life, and that’s what I see when I look at Pit Bulls. They’re on a chain.”
Matt Baugher: “Have you heard the great Bill Murray quote? ‘I never trust a person who doesn’t like dogs, and I always trust a dog who doesn’t like a person.’”
Julie Roberts has been a huge part of my life as a Nashville Musician Photographer. What started as a simple tweet Julie sent me at CMA Fest in 2016 about a photo I took. Today we’ve traveled the country together from California to Tennessee and had so many amazing photography experiences together from her #BeautyInTheBreakdown book cover to her own fairytale wedding to Matt, and now Maya and Ruby’s #CelebrityDogsAndTheirPeople interview/photoshoot! Thankful that there is a purpose for every encounter and experience in life. Even though we may not understand the why or path we are on, God does and in time all those little moments will make sense.