Rachel - poet, designer & artist
Rachel has worked +20 years in the fashion industry with roles as head of design and creative director for global brands such as Calvin Klein, 7 For All Mankind, Costume National and has also designed custom clothing for iconic artists e.g. Justin Timberlake, Jay-Z and Iggy Pop.
Nowadays Rachel lives a laid-back life in California, creating art, writing poetry and is co-publisher of Riot Material magazine together with her husband. See some of their work here: @riotmaterial
They live between LA and Joshua Tree and are often in the Northern Mojave desert and Eastern Sierra mountains to camp, hike and practice silent meditation.
(check out the collar in photo->)
S: What made you move from the fashion industry in Europe to live the urban laid-back life in the desert?
RRW: Initially, I moved to NYC from London to continue my career in Fashion. I then met my husband who is born and bred Los Angeles so our shared dream was to find a place in the Californian desert where we could reconnect to Nature, look up at the night sky, experiment with altered states of consciousness and evolve our artistic expression.
S: You mentioned the dogs had rattle snake training. This sounds super exciting, please tell us a bit about this.
RRW: This is a really cool training that is offered by just a few dog trainers in California for those dogs who spend most of their time in the desert. Rattle snakes are everywhere and if undisturbed, often go unnoticed, but if a dog gets bitten by a rattle snake the chances of survival are slim. The training teaches the dogs to smell, hear and see rattle snakes and when they do, take a large 20 feet radius around the snake, even if the owner inadvertently walks straight past it. The trainers use real live rattlers that they catch for short periods of time, put little snake muzzles on their heads so they can’t bite, and place the snakes around an obstacle course that the dogs get trained in. The snakes are then released back into the wild unharmed.
S: Your dogs are named Mr. Burroughs and Miss. Beatrice; who came up with those names?
RRW: We are both lovers of the beat generation author William S. Burroughs – having each traveled to Morocco in our past to visit his rented room in Tangier – so when we first got Mr. B there was no doubt what we would name him. One year later we got Miss B and we pondered over her name for a while. Beatrice was Danté’s love who guided him through Paradise and Miss B, after winning over Burrough’s heart, became that guiding love for Mr. B. The two B’s became true Lit Dogs:)
S: Is it true you rescued the dogs when you were out on one of your desert hikes?
RRW: It’s true that we rescued both of them from desert dog kennels, who struggle to keep dogs for any length of time, and so their time was up and we picked them up just in time. Mr. B was picked up in Taos, New Mexico, while we were on a week-long camping road trip. He had been found wondering the desert mesas of Taos. Meanwhile, we picked up Miss B in Bishop, CA, who was found, as a 4 month old puppy, lost in the merciless desert heat.
S: What is their favorite activity, if asking the dogs?
Chasing Jack Rabbits! Without doubt! Many Jack Rabbits live out in the desert and they run so fast, the dogs can never catch them! But B&B kick off into a high-speed gallop and do their best to keep up!
S: What do the dogs mean to you?
B&B are basically our kids! Haha! They are sweet souls who live with us 24/7 and happen to be covered in cuddly furry coats!
S: Best dog-related memory?
RRW: This might sound like a horror story to some but I’d like to share it to illustrate the resilience and intelligence of dogs. It was a Saturday night in Hollywood and we had had Mr. Burroughs for just over a year and Miss B for only a few months. As we were walking around our neighborhood, fireworks went off – loud! We had just that second released B&B from their leashes, just two houses from our home, and Miss B bolted out of total terror and Mr. B bolted after her. They were gone! We ran after them but they had disappeared into the night. We ran home, each getting a car, and drove around all the streets of our neighborhood, back and forth, calling each other desperately for any news. Then, I got a call from a stranger. Two hours since we saw them, Miss B had been found in a bush, on Melrose avenue about 2 miles from home. I drove immediately there, thanked the stranger, picked her up and took her home, putting her to bed as she was in complete shock. Chris continued to drive around looking for Mr. B but after 6 hours came home and we all cried, thinking Mr. B was lost to the night. We left our gates and windows open all night, just in case , and would you believe it? At 4am, we woke up hearing Mr. B at the bedroom window! He had found his way home! He was exhausted, his paw pads were worn down, he was limping badly but he was alive! He had miraculously found his way home, just one year old, through the labyrinth of a bustling urban city, and had survived a Saturday night out in Hollywood
S: How does an ordinary day look like with the dogs “at work”?
B&B come everywhere with us so whether we are walking, meditating, doing yoga, tapping away on our computers, they are always with us! Miss B loves to lounge around (apart from when chasing Jack Rabbits) but Mr. B is a bit more “intense”! He will let us know when he wants his dinner, when it’s time for another run, when he wants some love. He is also always on guard. He’s the Alpha and wants to “do his job” by “protecting the family”!
S: Do you have anything on your bucket-list still undone?
Living part time in Hollywood I still have wild dreams of getting B&B in the movies! Haha!
Until now they’ve only washed their dogs every spring-break, after chasing Jack Rabbits and encountering Coyotes in Joshua Tree and the Northern Mojave desert. However, they’ve now promised to use the new coat concept from Schnoodie:)