5 min read

What Joan Rivers' Life Can Teach Us About The Power Of Pets

<p>Twitter/Joan Rivers</p>

Groundbreaking comedian Joan Rivers has died, and many are reflecting on the loss of an indelible woman. Deemed a "raspy loudmouth" by The New York Times and known for her controversial quips, she demonstrated a softer side in her dedication to her pets.

Her beloved rescue dogs Sam and Teegan were featured regularly on her Twitter account, and Rivers told Chicago Now that all of her previous dogs have also been rescues.

Rivers' soft spot for dogs stems from one of the darker periods in her life when her husband Edgar Rosenberg committed suicide in 1987. The notoriously vibrant, biting, and witty comedian fell into a depression that she felt she couldn't shake off and in a moment of despair, Rivers seriously considered ending her own life.

Her saving grace was her dog, Spike. Rivers described in an interview with The Daily Beast how Spike's love gave her a reason to carry on:

What saved me was my dog jumped into my lap. I thought, "No one will take care of him." It wasn't a friendly dog-only to me. I adored this dog ... I was sitting in this big empty house in Bel Air, with a phone with five extensions which we no longer needed. I had the gun in my lap, and the dog sat on the gun. I lecture on suicide because things turn around. I tell people this is a horrible, awful dark moment, but it will change and you must know it's going to change and you push forward. I look back and think, "Life is great, life goes on. It changes."

Rivers often touted her love for her four-legged friends, telling Chicago Now that "dogs are easier to love than people; they're certainly more dependable ... Once they love you, that's it. A true friend in life is a dog."

Rivers was considered controversial by PETA for owning and wearing fur. She responded openly and frankly to criticism, telling protestors in one instance that the furs she was wearing which "would have been lying in a cellar" had now "gotten to go to the opera." Rivers added that she agreed with the organization's message. "I have four rescue animals, so we all do what we do in our own way."

Following her death, PETA's senior vice president Dan Mathews published a statement on The Huffington Post which lauded River's compassion for animals. "Despite her penchant for wearing fur, Joan always appreciated PETA's efforts," stated Mathews. "We'll all miss Joan terribly, but her legacy will live on in many meaningful ways."

Rivers also supported such causes as Guide Dogs of America and Lucy Pet Foundation.

Rivers' powerful relationship with her animals is one that will not soon be forgotten.

"When you have a dog in your life there's no such thing as an empty apartment," Rivers once told Brian Fischler in an interview. "I just don't get people that don't have a pet in their life."