Detroit rapper, Daniel “Hush” Carlisle, is dedicated to more than just his music career. He is also a hero to many stray dogs in the Detroit area.
Carlisle and his group, Detroit Dog Rescue, visited Eastern Michigan University on Friday to talk about the DDR. They explained why helping canines is such an important part of their lives – and the lives of the pups they save. The presentation titled, “The Dogs of Detroit: A Conversation with Hush Carlisle,” highlighted many of DDR’s beginnings and its mission to be the first no-kill shelter in Detroit.
The event was a part of EMU’s EcoJustice and Activism Week, which showcases the ecojustice program on campus.
Rebecca Martusewicz, an EMU professor who teaches courses on ecojustice, social and ecological justice, ecofeminism, gender and education, and sociology of education, was a part of the planning committee for the events. She introduced the DDR group to the audience.
“I’ve been a big fan of the organization ever since it came about,” Martusewicz said. “The story is moving.”
Before the founding of DDR, Carlisle recorded multiple albums and collaborated with musicians like Eminem, Kid Rock, Ludacris and many more.
“Music is what I’ve always known,” he said. “My mother pushed me towards it.”
In 2005, he became involved in reality television and performed on NBC’s season finale of “The Contender,” which also featured many of his songs. He also appeared on the Spike TV reality show, “Murder.”
Carlisle said that once he went independent in the music industry in 2007, there wasn’t much opportunity to make money anymore, and recording companies were not seeking out the “art” in the artist as it once did. He did continue to sell out shows locally, but he felt like there was something else out there for him to do.
By 2010, Monica Martino from the Discovery Channel’s “Whale Wars,” and “Deadliest Catch,” asked Carlisle to be a part of the channel’s series, “A Dog’s Life,” which was to be featured in Detroit originally, but was shut down by the city.
Carlisle said that the idea of a dog rescue group came about while he and Martino were driving around Detroit in the winter of 2011.
“We stopped at a streetlight near 75 and saw a stray dog with an unlit cigarette hanging out of its mouth,” he said.
They followed the dog for a while and watched it try to dig under an abandoned car for something. Carlisle got out to see what the dog was trying to get to, but couldn’t find anything of significance. Continuing to trail the dog, Martino and Carlisle spotted the canine in an alleyway with what looked like intestines hanging out of its mouth. After the dog ran in the other direction, Carlisle got out to see what the dog had eaten and found two dog paws left in the snow.
That’s where the stray dog rescue conversation began.
“I’ve seen stray dogs my whole life,” Carlisle said.
He said that he and his friends would go to the store when they were younger and they would always run into a pack of stray dogs as they left the premises.
Carlisle also talked about something that people do called “trunking,” which is when people take their cars and stick two dogs in the back to fight. He said once the dogs begin to fight, the perpetrators drive around in the early morning hours so the police won’t necessarily pull them over. When the rattling stops in the back of the trunk, the one dog that has succumbed to death is thrown out on the side of the road.
“It’s mind-blowing, the stuff that goes on.” Carlisle said.
“There’s no pro-activity,” he said about taking care of the dog issue in Detroit. “A dog is a domesticated animal – unless born feral. A dog won’t find food – that’s not their survival mode. If we don’t do something now, these dogs are going to die.”
So, in February 2011, Martino and Carlisle founded DDR. The mission was to gain money for shelters, to bring strays off the streets and to educate the community about the problem.
“We do great work in getting dogs into loving homes,” Carlisle said.
Carlisle also said within the next two weeks the DDR will open its shelter, the Calvin Cash Boarding Center, named after a friend of Carlisle’s who passed away and will also be dedicated to him.
A duel-enrolled graduate student studying public health at University of Michigan and EMU, Jessica Carrothers, attended the event.
“I’m very passionate about social justice and people connecting to communities and the world around them,” she said. “I’m fascinated at all the ways people are looking at the environment, and how eco-justice can actually affect people’s lives.”
For more information about the DDR, visit detroitdogrescue.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The group can also be found on Facebook.