My Dreams Come True
Having studio dogs is a luxury. As a working mom, I have blogged about this before, but I never knew if I would be able to have children. When I was 22 and I got my first Cavalier King Charles Spaniel of blessed memory, I was not sure if this fur baby would be my only child. While I have been blessed with human children too, they never changed the status of my dogs, who have meant the world to me. My dogs have been there for me and by my side on my best and worst days. For my greatest celebrations and for my worst sorrow. I believe that Barclay, Violet, and Daisy understand and connect with me in a unique and special way, and having them in my life is as much a dream come true as my professional voice over career is. I very much view having these precious fur babies by my side in my home studio as a luxury. Everything about my career, from my studio set up to being able to be present for my children is icing on the cake to being able to live the dream of life as a full-time voiceover actor. If you are thinking of getting a studio dog, I urge you to move forward without hesitation. If you are thinking about it, let me share the traits that have made my dogs ideal to be in the studio daily and give you some ideas of what traits work, what does not, and what to look for when having a voice over studio dog.
Violet has always been a wonderful studio dog. Violet is a Blenheim cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Her temperament is calm, quiet, and she is eager to please. She rarely barks and sleeps a lot. Despite her angelic personality, there are several challenges to having this love muffing in the booth. When Violet sleeps, she often snores. Despite her tiny size of only 15 lbs, her snore sounds like a local train coming through town. The next challenge is that Violet, who was bred to be a lap dog, very much wants to sit on my lap. While she will sometimes settle down and snuggle with her sister, she will more often beg to be on my lap. Imagine that I am doing a long form narration or eLearning project and she is on my lab. If she exhales or shakes and her collar rattles, the mic will pic this up. While Violet is pretty close to being perfect, there are some hiccups sometimes and as human as she seems she still has no idea that I am doing actual work or that she can interrupt it.
Daisy the Silver LabDaisy is a Labrador Retriever puppy. As a silver Lab, she is just precious. She is goofy and sweet and has a lot of energy. Let’s just say when she first came to the voice over booth, she had no idea it was a place of work. She literally tried to eat the aurelex acoustic foam off of the walls! Well, that could not go on. Outside the studio, Daisy had a number of behavior issues ranging from jumping to counter surfing to pulling while walking that also needed to be addressed. So, we sent her to the Monks of New Skete for some dog training. They taught Daisy to go to her place. It was amazing. After 17 days at the monastery, when she returned, she understood to lay by my feet quietly when given the command “place.” This was life changing and Daisy is now a wonderful and enjoyable companion in the studio.
When They are Not There
Regardless of how amazing Violet and Daisy are, I do not have the girls in the booth for live sessions. Whether I am doing a Source Connect of Zoom session, my feeling is that when clients are paying a premium for m services, the dos should not be there. Ever. I do a lot of commercial work and also have live sessions for video game work and sometimes even eLearning, and there is not a circumstance in which the dog’s behavior interfering with the audio would every be acceptable. In a business where there are a lot of people who do what we do, and we as talents are very replaceable, we need to be mindful of what is ideal for our clients and put their needs above all elese. Are there times I would prefer to have my pups in the booth? Of course there are, but it is more important to have clients return again and again.
So, if you are a voice actor and you are getting a pup, here are some things to keep in mind:
- You want a dog that is not a barker. They either are or they aren’t, and if they are that will never change.
- You want a dog who is not anxious. They need to be ok by themselves when you have live sessions. If you put them somewhere else in your house, whether it is a crate, a den, a gated kitchen, you need to be able to count on them to be quiet for the duration of your session.
- You want a dog who can stay calm and rest for upwards of an hour, even at a young age. As voice actors, it’s an endurance game. We are often in our studio for hours on end. You want a dog who can tolerate being indoors and does not demand walks or outdoor play on their schedule.
I am so thankful for my girls. I hope you find a studio dog to make your voiceover life complete!