Brijitte West gets pet-mad with us17th January 2021
Brijitte West is best known as the vocalist of Punk band NY Loose, who graced the gritty punk stages of New York’s lower east side in the 90’s. Brijitte has recently turned her attention to performing acoustically online through social media.
Well hello! I am so pleased to be in the company of like-minded pet lovers so forgive me if I sound like I am mad. I am sure your readers will understand!
I have three fur babies at the moment: Alfred is a five-year-old black Lab, I raised him from a puppy. He is pretty massive and built a bit like Arnold Schwarzenegger in fact I sometimes call him Robo Dog because of his almost mechanical sleek muscular tautness. He is a hill walker like me and spend a lot of time in the forests where I live. He runs off the lead and because he is gun dog trained he is pretty obedient for the most part, unless there is a picnic he can gain access to and then he likes to do his yogi bear impression. (after all he is a Labrador!). Underneath it all is the Buddha of dogs, patient, kind to people and other animals, calm and regal. He is a constant lesson in motion of humility and strength. He is named after captain Alfred Dreyfus who is a distant family ancestor and also Alfred the butler from Batman. His person motto is please don’t call me Alfie.
Frida is a Romanian street dog who we have had for three years her breed is unknown but she is about as big as a Jack Russell and looks like a cross between a black fox and a vampire bat. Her bottom jaw juts forward so her bottom teeth are constantly visible and they are crooked and jaunty. It gives her a very comical look and we all think she is very beautiful. We don’t know why she is like this, if she was born this way or if she was kicked (this is very common practice in Romania) The good folk at Holbrook Animal Rescue help rescue dogs and bring them to the UK for adoption.
It pretty much takes my entire dog loving discipline not to adopt all of her relatives that are looking for homes. Frida had never lived in a house before so when we first got her everyday was a new realisation of what it was to be loved. Watching this unfold in a dog has been one of the great blessings of my life. Frida is a feisty little girl as you can imagine from her background but is in so much deficit of strokes and pets that she asks for this on a constant basis. She does this by raking her claws against your skin until you are either red raw or you give in to her I recommend you give inJ . Because she does this I often personify her with an Easter European accent, like Dasha from Killing Eve and you can often hear her say “pet me or I will hurt you” J She is named after Frida Kahlo the Mexican artist who had it pretty tough as well.
Hazel is a Lilac Burmese and is the pixie of cats. We have had her since she was a kitten. She is very small for her breed and is completely silent except for when she is demanding to be let in to her room. She has seen her fair share of trouble and strife, she has fallen out of the window and been attacked by a neighbour’s dog so she sports a steel frame in her leg and has recovered from a broken pelvis sand jaw. She is a beautiful cat with only one love, my daughter which is fine.
It reminds me of when I was a girl and I had a special cat. I am just here to feed Hazel and take her to the vet when needed. Hazel is a prolific serial killer and she will often bring gifts of the hearts of mice. If you have seen the series Ozark and if Hazel was human she would be Ruth.
What is the weirdest thing your pet has done or what’s the weirdest thing you have done with your pet?
I have a voice for each one that I use to translates their thoughts. I also sing songs to them, which I make up, sometimes on the spot. Their whole life is like one big musical! I also have the standard songs I sing when it’s time for dinner and so on. I told you I was mad!!!
What is the best trick your animals can do?
They don’t do tricks but Alfred can make any food within reach disappear in an instant.
This past year has been as mad as a balloon, so you’ve no-doubt, like the rest of us, spent a lot of time at home. Have your pets helped being at home for you?
I honestly could not have survived lockdown without all three of them. I get up in the morning and I am sort of like the pied piper as I walk down the steps as they are following behind for their breakfast. The dogs get me out everyday and keep me connected to nature and Hazel reminds me to go gentle on myself. This is an incredibly stressful time for everyone and the happy chemical exchange between owner and pets is a really healthy thing.
Have you always been an animal lover?
Yes always, from a very young age I have had close relationships to animals, on some level I relate to animals better than I do to my fellow humans.
Are you one of those people that puts your pets into costumes?
I don’t because I know if I start I wont stop. I do allow myself the once a year Christmas jumper for the dogs and have put Alfred in a Santa hat too.
Do they like it when you practise at home or has your pet had any influence on your music? Do they seem to prefer any particular genre of music more than another?
Frida had never heard or seen a guitar before, when I first played it in from of her she had a bit of a panic attack. Now they all lay at my feet while I am writing. I think they can feel my muse better than I can and they are a constant reminder of staying in the present moment, which is a huge help when you are trying to write songs
Who looks after your pet whilst you’re away on tour/holiday?
We usually get a house sitter to look after them. It’s nice for them to stay in their own familiar surroundings. We try and take the dogs with us whenever we can though.
Speaking of practising, any new music in the pipeline?
Yes I have started writing some new stuff during lockdown 2.0 . I am just trying to figure out how I will record and release it so I am not sure but I hope very soon.
Have you anything you’d like to say to your fans/followers?
I know this pandemic has really hit hard and some days are worse than others. Keep your thoughts positive and your point of vision at the light at the end of the tunnel. Reach out to friends and reach out to me. I would love to hear from you!
Thank you for your time Brijitte, it’s been… MAD