Dolly Parton Revealed How Her Dog Saved Her Marriage and Her Life

Though Dolly Parton gives off perpetually sunny energy, she says she doesn’t always feel that way. She’s joked that Botox is responsible for her happy face but says that she’s gone through periods of sadness like anyone else. She spoke of one particularly difficult period in her life and marriage to her husband. In this time, she said that her dog served as a “spiritual messenger” and helped save her.

Dolly Parton smiles as she wears a white outfit and holds a guitar
Dolly Parton | Valerie Macon/Getty Images

Dolly Parton’s husband met her on her first day in Nashville

The day after Parton graduated from high school, she packed up her belongings and moved to Nashville to pursue a career in music. She was outside a laundromat when her future husband, Carl Dean, struck up a conversation with her. They soon began dating.

“When I met my husband, he wanted to take me out to dinner. He pulled up to the drive-in window and got our food at McDonald’s,” Parton told People. “We know a few little places we can go without being bothered. He only likes to go places where he can be comfortable!”

After two years of dating, the pair had a small, private wedding with just Parton’s mother, the pastor, and the pastor’s wife in attendance.

She was in emotional turmoil after an ‘affair of the heart’

Though Parton denies rumors of any physical affairs, she says she’s had affairs “of the heart” throughout her life. One of these put the singer through emotional anguish. According to the book Dolly on Dolly: Interviews and Encounters with Dolly Parton, she became emotionally involved with her bandleader, Gregg Perry.

“Gregg and I became very close … I had never spent so much time with such a well-educated and knowledgeable man … I let myself get completely wrapped up in him,” she explained.

Parton was devastated when this ended, and she says that the split brought her to a very dark place. She revealed that she even contemplated suicide at this time. She said that she stood staring at a gun for a while.

“I looked at it a long time. Then, just as I picked it up, just to hold it, and look at it for a moment, our little dog, Popeye, came running up the stairs,” Parton told Closer Weekly. “The tap-tap of his paws jolted me back to reality, I suddenly froze and I put the gun down.”

She shared that she believes Popeye was godsent. 

“I kinda believe Popeye was a spiritual messenger from God,” she said. “I don’t think I’d have done it, killed myself, but I can’t say for sure. Now that I’ve gone through that terrible moment, I can certainly understand the possibilities, even for someone solid like me, if the pain gets bad enough.”

Though this was a difficult time for Parton and her marriage, she and Dean are still happily together.

Dolly Parton’s husband, family, and friends helped her out of a dark period

Parton shared that she was able to navigate her way through this period of time with help from her family and friends. Her faith was also crucially important to her.

“After I got through that, prayed through that, worked through that, I became so much better because I could see so much more inside people,” Parton told ABC News. “I was so much more humble because I never could toughen my heart … I just had to strengthen the muscles around it.”

How to get help: In the U.S. and Canada, text the Crisis Text Line at 741741 to reach a crisis counselor for support.

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