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“Hee Haw” to Helping Hound Dogs: The Legendary Linda Thompson

When I learned that Linda Thompson was a big-time animal advocate, and actually aspired to be a veterinarian at a young age, I jumped at a chance to write a tribute to her. I remember watching Linda’s live interview with Larry King over a decade ago on the 25th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death. It...

Linda Thompson

When I learned that Linda Thompson was a big-time animal advocate, and actually aspired to be a veterinarian at a young age, I jumped at a chance to write a tribute to her.

I remember watching Linda’s live interview with Larry King over a decade ago on the 25th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death. It was a gripping interview with the multi-talented ex-girlfriend of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

I was already a fan of hers at the time of the interview and am grateful to the Barbi Twins for introducing me to their good friend in animal rescue.  They see each other at almost every animal related function in Los Angeles.

Linda was a longtime love interest of Elvis Presley and has graciously and gracefully carried on his legacy, which included his love for animals. 

In fact, he was known for gifting pets to the women in his life from Linda to his mother Gladys. At one point, the menagerie at Graceland included spider monkeys, peacocks, chickens, pigs, poodles, and a Great Pyrenees called “Muffin.” And Elvis’ chow, “Getlow,” who lived at Graceland when Linda was in residence, may have outlived the King by a year according to one source.

Linda Thompson is more than charming. When I saw her interview with Larry King I was so impressed by her poise and elegance. The lovely and articulate Linda Thompson is a true Southern Belle. I’m now even more moved to know her love for the animal kingdom was instilled in her by her mother.

The contestant and finalist in state and national beauty pageants went on to become an Academy Award and Grammy-nominated lyricist. She and her second husband won an Emmy award for their work. Linda also has nearly 20 TV and film credits to her name.

Today she dedicates her time to charity and a lot of it involves helping animals in need. As mentioned, her love for animals has been past down to her from her mother who had a soft place in her heart for the warm blooded and furry. She in turn has passed down her compassionate spirit to her sons Brandon and Brody Jenner.  Brandon and his girlfriend Leah rescued their dog from a trashcan and Brody has two rottweillers.

Linda has had as many as seven dogs at any one time and currently has a Shitzu and a French bulldog. She is a strong advocate for companion animal welfare having served on the board of a rescue center, where she was an ardent supporter of no-kill shelters and spay and neuter programs.

Update Feb 1, 2014:  Per Elvis Expert Jay Gordon: “Getlow died in 1976, more than a year before Elvis’ death.”

227547_1017563841471_1296367628_30083936_8248_nDr. Jordan Schaul is a zoologist, conservationist, journalist and animal trainer based in Los Angeles, California. For more of his posts, please visit his National Geographic Society author page. Like his public Facebook page ( or follow him on Twitter (

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Meet the Author

Author Photo Jordan Carlton Schaul
With training in wildlife ecology, conservation medicine and comparative psychology, Dr. Schaul's contributions to Nat Geo Voices have covered a range of environmental and social topics. He draws particular attention to the plight of imperiled species highlighting issues at the juncture or nexus of sorta situ wildlife conservation and applied animal welfare. Sorta situ conservation practices are comprised of scientific management and stewardship of animal populations ex situ (in captivity / 'in human care') and in situ (free-ranging / 'in nature'). He also has a background in behavior management and training of companion animals and captive wildlife, as well as conservation marketing and digital publicity. Jordan has shared interviews with colleagues and public figures, as well as editorial news content. In addition, he has posted narratives describing his own work, which include the following examples: • Restoration of wood bison to the Interior of Alaska while (While Animal Curator at Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center and courtesy professor at the University of Alaska) • Rehabilitation of orphaned sloth bears exploited for tourists in South Asia (While executive consultant 'in-residence' at the Agra Bear Rescue Center managed by Wildlife SOS) • Censusing small wild cat (e.g. ocelot and margay) populations in the montane cloud forests of Costa Rica for popular publications with 'The Cat Whisperer' Mieshelle Nagelschneider • Evaluating the impact of ecotourism on marine mammal population stability and welfare off the coast of Mexico's Sea of Cortez (With Boston University's marine science program) Jordan was a director on boards of non-profit wildlife conservation organizations serving nations in Africa, North and South America and Southeast Asia. He is also a consultant to a human-wildlife conflict mitigation organization in the Pacific Northwest. Following animal curatorships in Alaska and California, he served as a charter board member of a zoo advocacy and outreach organization and later as its executive director. Jordan was a member of the Communication and Education Commission of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (CEC-IUCN) and the Bear Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission (BSG-SSC-IUCN). He has served on the advisory council of the National Wildlife Humane Society and in service to the Bear Taxon Advisory Group of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA Bear TAG). In addition he was an ex officio member of council of the International Association for Bear Research and Management. Contact Email: