Callie Thorne: Putting the “Rescue” in “Rescue Me”
By Brian Fischler
In psychology there are two roles: that of patient and therapist. As an actress, Callie Thorne has gotten to explore both sides, as was there ever a character more in need of therapy than Sheila Keefe on the FX hit “Rescue Me?”
In her current role on USA Network’s “Necessary Roughness,” Callie portrays Dr. Dani Santino, a therapist for professional athletes, helping them deal with life issues and crises. Having been on both sides of the couch, does Callie believe in dog therapy? “I do believe in pet therapy. Much like good trainers, I think good pet therapists can pick up on things that owners can’t and anything that can help an owner bond with their pet is an awesome thing,” says Callie Thorne.
So where did her love of dogs all begin? “I grew up with one of my own dogs, a little rough and tumble boy poodle named Calvin. He was incredibly funny and a troublemaker, but he was also very sensitive of me and would sit and cuddle with me for hours if he felt I was upset,” says Thorne.
Calvin wasn’t the only dog in her life when she was growing up. “I also was obsessed with my neighbor’s two golden labs, Lady and Almond. I would walk them after school. Calvin was like the bad boy football player, while Lady and Almond were like the young cheerleaders who were always vying for his attention. Some of my best memories are of playing in the yard with these three dogs,” says Thorne.
She currently has a mixed-breed rescue dog named Tricky. “The shelter thought Tricky was a wire haired terrier and poodle, but I have had people come up to me on the street and say that he looks just like their Maltese mix. Tricky does this incredible, adorable thing called ‘praying.’ When he gets excited about food or a person he gets up on his hind legs and puts his front paws together while waving them up and down, which I have been told is a Havanese trait.”
Tricky weighs about twenty pounds, but more importantly, what is his personality like? “Tricky is hilarious and wickedly smart. If I am on the phone and can’t play with him he has taken to tossing the ball from his mouth hard at the wall so that it will bounce away and he can chase it. He is incredibly affectionate, often curling up around my head and shoulders when I lean back on the couch.”
How did Thorne decide to rescue this lucky guy? “I have always been a firm believer in rescuing animals. Whenever friends, family, or co-workers mention wanting a pet I always suggest ways to make it easy for them to look into local shelters, or I offer to go looking with them if there is a place farther away. There are too many incredible dogs, cats, birds, even snakes in the shelters who have been abandoned and deserve to be loved.”
When did you know it was time to adopt? “Five years ago when I knew it was time to find another little best friend for me, there was never any other choice for me than to rescue a dog,” Thorne explains.
I don’t think most people realize how many hours the star of a TV show spends on the set. Is it very difficult to spend so much time away from Tricky? “Tricky happens to be a perfect set dog. I often am working on location and the hours can be heavy duty, but I have been mostly lucky enough to bring Tricky wherever I go.”
She adds, “He is so people and dog friendly, there is no worry of him having to be kept away from set, but he also loves my trailer and has all of his favorite spots to relax, as well as hordes of people (production assistants, assistant directors, guest actors) who all want to walk him when I can’t.
“I’ve come back to my trailer in between set ups and swung open the door expecting to see him but come to find out he is hanging in the AD trailer being fed treats and cuddled in laps. Usually in the morning when I pull up to the set, a big cheer of ‘Tricky’ can be heard before anyone says hello to me,” says Thorne. As a fellow dog owner I can relate, as no one remembers my name, but my dog Nash is well known all over New York City.
“The best thing about walking a dog in New York City is the people you meet, especially if you have as friendly of a dog as Tricky. I love meeting other dog owners, as there is always a story to hear while your dogs tussle on the sidewalk. However, I meet a lot of people who don’t have dogs, so many stop and ask if they can pet Tricky because he always looks so happy. He kind of bounces when he walks and he always ends up making those same people laugh, especially if he does his praying for them. He knows how cute it is.”
With all the time that Thorne and Tricky get to spend together, has Tricky adapted any of her traits? “Tricky has definitely adapted two of my traits. He is as terrified of bugs as I am. If I see a bug I will back up and scream and you can undoubtedly find Tricky between my legs. He never snuffs them out or tries to bat them with his paw the way my dog growing up used to do. Tricky would probably give me up to the bugs if they wanted to know where I was hiding,” laughs Thorne. “Tricky’s hair also frizzes in the rain just like mine does. On humid or rainy days, we look like two puffballs walking down the street.”
With Thorne having such a big heart, it is fortunate that she gets to travel so much. “Whenever I get a job that takes me away from home I try to look into the local shelters and not only donate but also learn more about them. I like to have info at the ready in case someone says they are thinking about rescuing a pet. In New York Citty, there are so many great places. I love the Humane Society. I have a family member who works there and I know that they all care so deeply for the animals and have some amazing charity events,” adds Thorne.
With Thorne’s experience rescuing Tricky being such an enjoyable one, what would her advice be to those people looking to bring a little bundle of joy into their life? “My main advice to anyone looking to rescue a dog is to be patient. It can take a lot of homework and a few different visits to a few different places. It can take a little work, but the right dog will come up at the right time and place. I also think it is important to be open. You may have a certain dog, certain age, or breed in mind and then give up when you can’t find them. Keep searching. You may be surprised at who grabs your heart,” says Thorne.