TV personality Wayne Brady has almost always had a dog in his life. His first dog memories are with his grandmother’s Collie. These days, he has a pack of seven with his ex-wife Mandie. Four live with him.
“I have two Rotties, Charlie and Phatty — aka James Franco, a Bichon Frise named Mick and a Tibetan Terrier named Pia,” says Wayne, a Masked Singer winner and host of Game of Talents.
In 2021, he’ll be living in a puppy world when he hosts the Puppy Pre-Show before the AKC National Championship Presented by Royal Canin (aka as the Puppy Bowl) on Feb. 7.
It’ll also give him a chance to actually enjoy the event, something he’s only gotten to do once before.
“If you’re busy making TV, you can’t watch TV, but I watched it once and thought it was awesome,” Wayne says. “The fact that I can watch it this year and be a part of it is a score.”
Before he suits up for the big day, Wayne took time to talk about what dogs have meant to him throughout his life, how they’ve helped him get through an unprecedented 2020 and the importance of rescues.
Tell us about how you came to love dogs.
Wayne: Some of my earliest memories are with dogs. Growing up, my grandmother had a Collie. We had a German Shepherd. My first dog that was my little guy was a little Terrier named Brandy. Then I had a Pit Bull named Pete. My aunt had dogs. Her dogs were always over at my house. There really hasn’t been a period in my life that I have not had a dog in my family.
How did they make your life better as a child?
Wayne: They were my friends. As a young child, I always wanted to play, and dogs were always down to play. They were little, happy people trapped in their fur costumes. I had the best time playing with them. They were always up for a game of tag and hide-and-seek.
This has been a crazy year. How have your pups helped you get through it?
Wayne: They’ve always been a source of comfort. Wherever your dogs are, that’s where home is.
As a TV personality, you’re on the road a lot. How do you keep in touch with your pets?
Wayne: I’m lucky to have an assistant who watches the kids when I need and an amazing dog walker who they love like another member of the pack … I get pictures and videos. Thank God for the video age. Seeing the puppies and seeing them have fun immediately is a positive burst of energy.
How did your gig on the Puppy Pre-Show happen?
Wayne: The people at Royal Canin … probably saw my TikToks,with not just my dogs but with Mandie’s dogs. They see I’m a dog lover. Years ago, I was in People Magazine as a celebrity pet owner, a bachelor with my dogs. They’ve always been part of my story. When they reached out, they asked if I would host the Puppy Pre-Show for the AKC national championship, and I jumped at the chance because I do love my dogs, and I love puppies. They asked me to be part of the contest where people submit their best puppy videos. Best in Show receives $5,000 and a year’s supply of Royal Canin puppy food. I thought, “That’s a home run. Let’s go.”
The Puppy Bowl focuses on rescue dogs. Are any of your dogs rescues?
Wayne: Yes, Phatty and Mick. When we picked up Mick, he was beaten and had just healed. His shoulder was dislocated, and his back legs had been broken. When he healed, and we got him, he couldn’t even look us in the eye. It broke my heart. He immediately latched onto my dog, Charlie. She took him under her wing. To this day, they are a little dog couple. Where there is one, there is the other.
What’s that been like watching Mick grow into the best version of himself?
Wayne: It makes me so happy. Now, he loves affection. I’ll just be sitting there, and he’ll want to cuddle. I remember a couple years ago when I could not cuddle with Mick, and that is beautiful. It’s absolutely beautiful.
What do you hope this year’s Puppy Bowl does for rescues?
Wayne: I hope it raises awareness, especially in the pre-show where we talk about the journey of a puppy and how to care for a puppy. I hope it makes certain people that want to have a dog because they saw a dog in the movie and think the dog is so cute that they will think twice. I hope they see this dog is a living, breathing creature with needs and wants and needs affection and love. I love what they do in terms of raising awareness of rescues and giving people the 4-1-1 on what it takes to be a good dog parent.