Survivor has become a television phenomenon, testing the survival skills of individuals from various walks of life. Millions have faithfully tuned in weekly to see who can “Outwit, Outplay and Outlast” each other for a million dollars. Animal Fair decided to follow up with some former Survivors who have a soft spot for animals. These Survivors had to deal with very limited food, water, sleep and being apart from their family and pets.
Joel Klug is best remembered as the blonde, fitness instructor from the first episode of Survivor. One of Joel’s most memorable moments is when he served up a rat for dinner for his tribe. It was obvious that Joel did not empathize with the rat and was soon voted off the island by the girls for laughing at a chauvinistic remark made by his tribe mate Gervase. Joel is currently auditioning for television/film projects and is active in the health/fitness circuit.
AF: Do you have any animals right now?
JK: My family has a dog and I have always had a pet growing up. My life has been extremely busy traveling so I do not have my own dog at the moment. As soon as my life settles down I will definitely be adding some pets to my family. One of my friends has a beagle that I have gotten close to… whenever I see “Buddy” we catch up with treats and play around. The Beagle breed is extremely loyal and loveable and definitely enjoys eating and sniffing as pastimes.
AF: What are some favorite activities you do with your dog when you are visiting your parents?
JK: Hiking, swimming and running are all activities I enjoy doing with my dog. It is also great that women have a soft spot for a guy with a dog!
AF: Can you tell Animal Fair about a recent event where you met a girl through a pet?
JK: Yeah, this is a bit embarrassing but I’ll admit that one time during a visit to the dog park, my friend’s dog did not want to leave and it turned into a chasing match. Every time I thought I was close enough to leash him… off he went. He thought it was a game. Although at first I thought it was humorous, he wore me down. I noticed some of the women laughing so I approached them and we had some really great conversations. I think women have a fondness for guys with pets; I think they bring out our sensitive side.
AF: Have you always enjoyed animals?
JK: Growing up on a farm allowed me to bond with all sorts of animals. They all had their own personalities and each of them was special to me as a child. If an animal got ill or died it really upset me—partly because I thought there was not a lot I could do to help them.
AF: What are some suggestions to survive the summer heat with a pet?
JK: Water, water, water! Make sure when you are outside with your pet there is water available to keep it refreshed.
Maralyn “Mad Dog” Hershey might have been the third Survivor to leave the Australian outback but her sense of humor and personality charmed audiences of all ages. A now retired police officer from VA, she runs a 5-acre farm where she cares for her animals’ daily.
AF: What are some of the animals on your farm?
MH: I have a donkey—Cappuccino, 2 goats-Harley & Boomerang, a thoroughbred horse — G Man and a Walker hound-Eunice Bea.
AF: Are you pretty active with your animals?
MH: The animals are great to play with and definitely have their own personalities. I often play tag with the goats and enjoy running with the hound.
AF: If the Survivor cameras followed you to your farm what are some funny moments that would be caught on tape?
MH: One never knows from day to day but a couple times the goats have tried to sharpen their horns on my shins and there have been a couple times I have had to wrestle them to get them out to pasture. If they ever tape a wrestling program with animals I could definitely be a part of that.
Susan Hawk made it to the final four in the first Survivor and her legendary tribal council speech will be etched in reality television history. Sue’s brutal honesty kept audiences wondering what this truck driver from Wisconsin would do next. She continues to keep audiences laughing with her many appearances on various game shows, talk shows and in the upcoming film “Bubble Boy.”
AF: How many dogs do you own?
SH: I have two dogs, Stinky Boy, a Hungarian Visla and Ellie Girl, a German shorthaired pointer. Both are like my children and the joys of my life.
AF: Any embarrassing moments with Stinky Boy and Ellie Girl?
SH: There are so many things they do that have made me and my family laugh. A recent incident occurred when I took “Ellie” to the pet store and her paw got stuck in the shopping cart. She started barking and screaming and everyone started looking at us and when a lady came to help,“Ellie” started growling at her so I was basically left alone to work her out of her situation.
AF: Was it difficult to be away from your dogs while on the island?
SH: Oh definitely… I missed them more than my husband for the first 30 days. I had never been away from them for that long and when I saw the video tape of my family and the dogs it made me miss them even more… I couldn’t wait to get back and be with them.
AF: What is the best thing about having a pet?
SH: The unconditional love a pet brings is like no other that a person can experience. No matter what you go through or where you have been, a pet’s love only grows stronger. It is an amazing thing to feel.
AF: How do Stinky Boy and Ellie Girl survive the summer heat?
SH: One of our favorite things to do when it is really hot is to fill up several plastic swimming pools with cool water and let them play in the water all day. The dogs love to splash the water around.
Dirk Been of the first Survivor, was one of the youngest cast-away members. Growing up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin has kept him surrounded by animals his entire life. Cows and chickens predominated the Been family farm and the house pet is Jock, a mutt who seemed to get just as much attention as Dirk from the local television stations. Although Dirk spends most of his time on the circuit with Christianspeakers.com. He visits home frequently to catch up with the family and pets.
AF: Sounds like you had your hands full growing up on a farm?
DB: You could say that. Taking care of 125 calves until they are full grown and over 100 chickens made me realize these animals depended on me to live. I learned to be responsible early on and farm animals require attention from personal care to vet work. They grow on you fast and each has a different personality and my family had names for each of them.
AF: Tell us a little about your dog?
DB: Jock is quite the character. I have had him since high school and whenever I visit home it is like no time has passed. We play different games. I like having him chase me around the house and wrestling with him. Another fun game is having him jump to touch my outstretched arms… he can jump over 6 feet now.
AF: Did you miss your pets when you were on Survivor Island?
DB: It was tough being away from them. Animals are extremely faithful when it comes to their love for their owners. When you’re gone for even a few minutes and return they are so happy to see you—like you’ve been gone for days. To make up for missing my dog I would spend some time on Survivor training the rats. Believe that and I can tell you a few more stories.
AF: How do you keep the animals cool in the summer heat?
DB: We have fans to keep the animals cool and continue to keep them hydrated with water. Cows especially need to be temperature controlled or their milk production will be greatly reduced. I thought the summer season in the U.S. was extreme but I really found out what hot was when I was on the island.
Kimmi Kappenberg from Survivor: The Australian Outback, is a vegetarian. When her tribe won a reward challenge that resulted in a coop of live chickens, Kimmi voiced her concern regarding the treatment of the animals, which led to a heated confrontation with her tribe mates. Kimmi has used her Survivor fame to become a speaker for animal rights organizations and is pursuing hosting opportunities with networks like Animal Planet.
AF: Do you think your strong views on animal rights upset your tribe mates?
KK: I had no problem speaking up about how those chickens were being treated but everyone knew I would not be eating those animals. I think the tribe was happy they had a vegetarian on their team. It basically meant more food for them. As a person I do not like to see poor treatment of animals and if I feel the need to speak up, I will.
AF: If you could have brought your pets to the Outback who would we have met?
KK: I have a one-year-old cat, Abbi, who lives with me, and my parents have twin seven-year-old Shih Tzu’s and 3 cats ranging from 10 years to 18 years.
AF: Any pastime you enjoy with your cat?
KK: My cat loves ice cream (mint chocolate chip is her favorite)—so we watch animal programs together and eat ice cream.
AF: What part do you believe animals play in our lives?
KK: Animals are loyal, caring and nurturing to us as humans. Animals often times give us more love than we deserve. It is amazingly unconditional, as they are always seeking our love and approval. Even my parents’ dogs, when I see them, still curl up under my neck when I lay on the floor no matter how much time has passed by. I was a little concerned my cat would not remember me when I was taping Survivor because she is so young but she remembered me. It is easy to get emotionally attached to pets because they are so loyal.
AF: Any funny situations with your pets?
KK: When I was living in Houston I was walking my parents Shih Tzu’s who were about 6 months old and a woman started talking to me about the dogs. I explained to her that the male was going to be fixed the next day and she shockingly responded, “Why would you do that? If they are brother and sister they will not mate!” I could barely hold back my laughter at her statement.
AF: How do you survive the summer heat with Abbi?
KK: I keep my cat indoors when it is really hot. I have a kitten perch near my window where she sits and is cooled by the fan. She is a very affectionate cat and enjoys snuggling so keeping warm is never a problem.