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I’d think twice if I were you, Karal. You gotta think about the type of people you’re gonna attract when you’re out walking those funny-looking dogs.

Advice from a well-meaning if slightly misguided friend when I adopted Lollipop, a Beagle/Basset mix with no bottom jawbone and a tongue that hangs down to thar. Advice I obviously chose to ignore when I found Daisy, my purebred Beagle bundle of love who came into animal control weighing a massive 85 pounds.

Advice I never gave much thought to at all until I took my little misfit girls to the Silverlake Reservoir in Los Angeles. I’m strolling down the street, two Beagles bouncing beside me. One constantly getting slapped in the face with her own tongue, the other sporting breasts the size of a Butterball turkey. And ~ honest.to.god ~ my baby’s got back. Real butt cheeks that wiggle when she walks.

I hear her voice before I see her. “BEEEEEEEeeeeeeeeGLES!”

Now, just the day before I was chased down the streets of Los Feliz by a guy who thought I was some chick named Kunte conspiring against him with the FBI. I finally lost him when I ran into the local bookstore. Today, I’m not in the mood for loonies.

Daring to look up, I see this diminutive but determined woman sprinting across the grass at full speed, straight towards me and the hounds. Arms outstretched. Big smile on her face. Behind her is a confused personal trainer, shaking his head; beside him, another guy, looking totally unfazed. Gotta be her husband. Good, cuz this time, I’ve got nowhere to run and big Daisy can’t move that fast. We stand glued to the spot and the next thing you know, crazy dog woman is down on the ground with the hounds, planting kisses and rubbing bellies.

Katya Lidsky Friedman

Meet Katya Lidsky Friedman. Animal advocate and activist, actress and apologist extraordinaire. Say “Katya” in the world of L.A. dog rescue, and people will finish your sentence with “Oh, I know Katya!” She’s the kind of woman who IS what she does, and what she does is love dogs.

She loves dogs enough that she works with dogs, volunteers with dogs, lives with dogs and fosters dogs. Enough that her own Orphelia was the Canine of Honor in her wedding. Enough that she’d run up to a total stranger because she’s “got Beagle.” Enough that she overcame her crippling people-pleasing, apologizing, do.you.like.me insecurities (you know those!) because with animals, and animal activism, she found something she could believe in.

Katya and Orphelia, her Canine of Honor

Katya, also a writer and comedienne, tells about her journey “from apologist to activist” in her one-woman play, I’m Sorry. Making its New York City debut at FringeNYC, I’m Sorry, delivers a poignant message about recognizing and stepping into your own voice. Katya, by way of 16 characters ~ some human, some not ~ uses her’s here as a vehicle to highlight the contemporary animal welfare issues so close to her heart. And she does this all in her quirky, funny, heartfelt, authentic and beautiful way.

Because once you find your voice, you gotta use it, right?

Katya, I’m so not sorry you used it on me.

Tickets for I’m Sorry are available for the August 24 and 25 performances. If you live in New York City or you are going to the Big Apple, check it out. View the promo for I’m sorry here.

Lollipop and Daisy, the misfit hounds