Augusten Burroughs And His Puppy 'The Flying Nun With Ears' [UPDATE]
By Tony Peregrin in Arts & Entertainment on Apr 29, 2013 7:30PM
This is how life messes with Augusten Burroughs.
In Chicago last week touring behind the paperback release of his self-help manual This is How: Surviving What You Think You Can't, Burroughs came face-to-face with a newly discovered member of his family.
In a note posted to Facebook on Saturday, Burroughs, 47, author of eight books including the memoirs Running with Scissors and Dry, describes arriving at the WGN-TV studio a full hour-and-a-half early for an on-air interview.
“My publisher arranges all the travel, including car services to pick me up and drop me off,” explains Burroughs in the post. “In a way, it's like stepping onto a factory conveyer belt. Things generally flow smoothly. But once in a while there's a glitch. It's usually something small like having the wrong address for a radio station—and after so many book tours I expect these little glitches now and then. What I don't expect is for one of them to change my life.”
Hanging out in what he calls the studio’s “spooky, empty cafeteria,” Burroughs killed time by watching the wall-mounted TV monitor.
“Rachael Ray was making deviled egg and bacon sandwiches and I remember thinking, that girl needs to stand up straighter or the countertop on her set should be taller,” observed the author. “When I reached my threshold for food preparation demonstration broadcasting, I pulled out my phone and started reading. When I next looked up, it was probably forty-five minutes later, and what I saw on the screen caused me to freeze.”
What elicited such a reaction from this seasoned author—a man who has seemingly seen it and done it all to the point where his latest release is a DIY guide for surviving everything from bat-shit crazy parents, to addiction, unemployment, and, even, cancer?
That would be a puppy, one with what he calls “Flying Nun ears.”
Volunteers from A Heart for Animals, a local no-kill animal welfare organization were filming in the studio that day with three shepherd mix dogs for the station’s weekly “Adopt a Pet Friday” segment.
“When the segment ended, I walked out into the hallway and waited for the stage door to open,” writes Burroughs. “Several minutes later, the women appeared, each holding one of the puppies. I casually strolled the length of the hallway where, of course, others had gathered to fuss over the dogs. One of the women handed me a puppy as though she'd been expecting me. And I took it in my arms. It was soft and warm and the heaviest part of the entire puppy was its paws. I could actually hold puppies for a living, so I lost track of time. I had to hand the dog back in order to be attached to a mic and shuffled onto the set for my interview.”
After completing the interview, Burroughs was once again handed one of the puppies, and the next thing he knew, he was having his picture taken with the pup in front of a giant image of Bozo the Clown. While en route to yet another interview, the author had a quick moment to look at the photo which he promptly sent to his brand new husband, the literary agent Christopher Schelling.
“I had to leave because I was already going to be late for my radio interview (which I did, actually, miss). But as I looked at the shot, I saw that the puppy and I each had the identical semi-pathetic expression on our faces. We matched, exactly. In my note with the picture I said to Christopher, 'I feel I have made a grave mistake and [I] should have the car turn around to get the puppy.' I was joking, of course. Because I knew Christopher would laugh and say, “‘yeah, right.’”
Actually, Christopher didn’t laugh, or if he did, he laughed while ringing up A Heart for Animals to make the necessary arrangements to bring the puppy home to New York the next day.
“I said, ‘you're not just doing this because of me, are you?’” And he said, ‘what??? I watched the segment online and I was laughing so hard; he's perfect and great. He's totally ours.’”
“If there hadn't been a glitch and I hadn't arrived at the TV studio over an hour early, there wouldn't be a puppy with flying-nun ears waiting for me when I get home next week,” writes Burroughs, who has yet to announce the new pup’s name. “So yeah, this just became the best book tour ever, thanks to one TV station, three women from a no-kill shelter, and the best, coolest, funniest, sweetest guy I ever did meet.”
Update May 1, 4 p.m.: Burroughs shared another photo of the dog, now named "Radar," on his Facebook page.