Allison Janney's Life With Dogs

The actress talks about her three dogs and her sitcom, 'Mom.'

Medically Reviewed by Will Draper, DVM on January 21, 2014
4 min read

Your two newest dogs, Dutch and Sippie, were rescued in Mississippi. What was their story?

"I was filming The Help in Greenwood, MS, and had too many days off in a row. So I started looking at the Petfinder app, for cattle dogs, and I saw Dutch -- this teeny puppy with the largest ears. He was at a kill shelter. They put him in my arms, and I fell in love. They said, 'Well, he has a sister.' I said, 'Let’s do it.' I had to move out of the Alluvian Hotel, so the puppies and I stayed with [director] Tate Taylor, and they proceeded to poop all over everything."

What does your first dog, Addie, think about the new kids?

"Addie couldn’t have been more upset with me. It took about 6 months."

Who’s in charge?

"I’m not a great alpha dog. They rule the roost here. I sometimes sit on the couch to watch the news while the dogs are running all over. It’s like Jurassic Park. Dutch is a jumper, and I haven’t discouraged him because I think it’s great -- I’m so tall and he can leap up to my mouth to give me a kiss."

When you’re stressed out, is one of them your go-to dog?

"Addie is this gracious, loving dog with a peaceful energy, like a Buddha dog. So she calms me. Dutch won’t get in bed with me at night, but at some point I wake up to him flapping his ears by my head, and that’s my signal to lift up the covers and let him in. It’s sweet -- like he doesn't want the girls to know he’s a mama’s boy."

What kinds of conversations do you have with them?

"They don't like it when I rehearse my lines out loud. Dutch will get up and run out of the room. What? Was that a bad line? Are you my coach now? They get freaked out by it. I just wish they could talk to me. I don’t really have conversations with them. It’s more silly things like, 'Company meeting. Let's go, in the office! OK, game plan for the day.' I do it to make my assistant laugh. She wasn’t a dog person, and now she has two. I don’t trust people who don’t like dogs."

What’s your morning ritual?

"I get on the bed with Addie, start hugging her and giving her kisses, and Dutch dive-bombs his way between us. There's a lot of hard things about having dogs, but that moment in the morning makes me feel loved, and I’m grateful. Then I go and get my coffee, and Dutch starts leaping around like we’re going for a walk, and I’m like, 'Not. Yet.' I start running the bath water, and all the dogs are like, 'Okaaay.' They know it’s going to be another 20 minutes. That buys me some time before the craziness begins."

Do they travel with you?

When I got Sippie and Dutch, I thought finally I’ll have my emotional-needs dog that I can travel with. At the pound they assured me these were Chihuahua mixes, and then they each grew to 40 pounds. So I just need to find a little guy for travel, but I’m kind of on dog lockdown now."

Have you always been a must-save-every-dog kind of person?

I’ve always been in love with animals. I grew up in Dayton, OH, and at one point we had a dog, 14 kittens, four cats, a rabbit, a gerbil, and guinea pigs. My dad used retrievers and Springer Spaniels for duck hunting. So I thought I’d get a purebred, and when I got to L.A., I learned about the world of rescuing dogs. Now I have a soft spot for them -- just knowing that they’d been abandoned. I’d love to get a bigger piece of property and get a few more dogs. I wish I did more hands-on work with rescues, but I feel it would be dangerous for me to be around them; I’m too much of a softie. I can’t believe I’m not vegan yet."

What’s it been like working on Mom, your new sitcom with Anna Faris?

We’re filming that through March, and I’m having the time of my life. It’s one of the best jobs I’ve ever had, creatively and because of the schedule. All the other shows I’ve done -- West Wing, Masters of Sex -- were 18-hour days. Now, I have a life outside of work for the first time.

Which of your characters have influenced or taught you the most in the way you live your life?

Not Bonnie (Mom), because I still enjoy a martini or two. C.J. (West Wing) is the character I wish I was most like because of how incredibly smart she is, and what she’s able to accomplish in a man’s world while maintaining her femininity. I’ve gotten letters from students who have changed their majors because they were so inspired by C.J. It’s nice to inspire people to want to fight for good causes. It’s the kind of feedback you live for -- that you've done something that has changed people’s lives.

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