A lifelong love affair with animals: How it all started for author Susan Orlean

In the mid-2000s, Susan Orlean and her husband built a home on an old dairy farm in the Hudson Valley to raise chickens, ducks, donkeys, and dogs. Courtesy of Simon and Schuster.

A little obsession with animals is something author Susan Orlean says she’s always had. As a child, she begged her mother for a family dog, and as an adult, she and her husband bought a farm in the Hudson Valley to raise chickens, ducks, donkeys, and dogs.  

Orlean’s decades-long writing career reflects her interest in all things furry and feathery. She’s written stories about a dog named Biff who traveled the country to try to win “Best in Show,” plus the multi-million dollar international effort to reintroduce the killer whale from the movie “Free Willy” back into the wild.

Orlean’s writings have been compiled into a new book called “On Animals.” 

“I think it’s a healthy impulse to be drawn to animals and to see them as fascinating,” Orlean says. “I would hate to live in a world where people didn’t find animals interesting.”