ROAR reimagines Abbey Road: Fab Four with tails a-wagging

The “Beatlemania pups” are all the rage at ROAR, talk of them sweeping through the staff at Ridgefield’s animal shelter like ‘mod’ fashion in a late ’60s high school, popping up again and again in conversations like a catchy melody set to a 4/4 beat.

“They’re a Beatlemania litter,” said ROAR adoption coordinator Dan Rankowitz.

The four males have of course been named John, Paul, George and Ringo. (Why do the Fab Four’s names always seem to go in that order?)

And the three females have been named after Beatle songs: Prudence from Dear Prudence (won’t you come out to play?); Eleanor, as in Eleanor Rigby (picks up the rice in a church where a wedding has been); and Lucy, recalling the psychedelic wanderings of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds (picture yourself in a boat on a river, with tangerine trees and marmalade skies, somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly, a girl with kaleidoscope eyes...).

ROAR dog trainer Rachel Beuchler had the idea of setting up an “Abbey Road”-style photo with the Beatlemania pups and volunteers enacted it as photographer Dave Rybarczyk took a shot that mimics the album cover, with the four male pups crossing at the crosswalk outside the shelter, on leashes held by four volunteers.

As an indicator of how crazy things were getting, they even had the pups crossing the street in the order dictated by the album photo.

“The dogs are in the right order: John, Ringo, Paul, George,” ROAR’s Pam Rybarczyk said.

Dan Rankowitz recalled the funeral iconography popularly read into the 1969 album cover photo of the Beatles in their varied outfits: John, in his white suit, Ringo in a dark suit, Paul in a dark suit but barefoot, and George in blue jeans and denim jacket.

“John represented God, Ringo represented the undertaker, Paul was the dead person, and George was the gravedigger,” he said.

‘Paul is dead’

This prompted him to dig up recollections of the Abbey Road cover’s role in the era’s “Paul is dead” phenomenon, a pop-culture myth that swept college campuses as a kind of combination conspiracy theory and dorm-room parlor game, with young people searching out hidden clues in song lyrics and album covers as evidence of secret messaging that McCartney was dead.

The episode was an amazing example of the human mind’s ability to favor the far-fetched over the simple and obvious, reaching the conclusion McCartney had been dead for several years based on an accumulation of symbolic readings of random evidence — such as the dark-suited and barefoot Paul as the deceased in the Abbey Road “funeral” shot, or a photo with three Beatles wearing red carnations while Paul wearing a black one — while ignoring obvious evidence to the contrary.

The contrary evidence that needed to be ignored to give the theory life included the fact that Paul McCartney had been continuing to make records, sing hit songs in his distinctive voice, appear on stage and on television and, as one of the world-famous Beatles, lead a hugely public life. Believers dealt with these inconvenient facts by theorizing he’d been replaced by a look-alike, and also a sound-alike who reproduced the rich smooth singing voice the Beatle was known for.

Homeward Bound

Unlike 1969’s ‘Paul is dead’ rumors, ROAR’s Beatlemania puppies are quite real.

“They’re a mix of retriever and cattledog,” said Rankowitz. “These guys come from Leland, Mississippi. The pups were found under a shed.”

The seven puppies were fostered by an animal rescue group that ROAR often works with, Homeward Bound of Mississippi.

“They transport dogs up here regularly. They are one of the few that we work with that will pull dogs from kill shelters — situations where they’d be euthanized — and provide them medical care and socialization,” Rankowitz said.

The dogs, about four months old, have had all “age-appropriate vaccinations,”  and have been spayed or neutered.

Adoption fees vary at ROAR, depending on the animal and situation, but for the Beatlemania pups it’s $400.

In the middle of the second week of August, ROAR had a total 15 puppies and dogs, and six cats, in need of homes. Some kittens, currently in foster care, will become available for adoption in early September.