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Lisa Vanderpump Reveals Her Surprising First Pet and If She'll Add Any More Dogs to Her Family

LVP is changing lives through pet rescue in her new Peacock original series Vanderpump Dogs.

By Laura Rosenfeld

There is rarely a moment these days when Lisa Vanderpump isn't holding her beloved pup Puffy or is at least petting distance from a pooch. But back when Lisa was growing up, she was living a very different kind of life from the puppy-filled one she has now.

"We had two cats. And I remember I always wanted a dog. But I couldn’t have a dog," Lisa recalled of her childhood during an exclusive interview with Bravo Insider in May. "So, I think, it was the week I left home at 18 I got my first dog."

The very first dog to come into Lisa's life was a Samoyed named Velvet. Then, when Lisa married Ken Todd, she expanded her fur family by adding another Samoyed named Huckleberry. "Luckily, I married somebody that was actually used to having cats as well and also indulged my love of dogs. And then when we lived in the English countryside, we managed to have a lot [of dogs]," Lisa shared. "I just love them. I think they’re so smart."

Of course, Lisa has had many dogs since then, including perhaps most famously, her Pomeranian Giggy, who passed away in December 2020. "They’ve all been my love dogs," Lisa said. "The bond you can make with them, they’re the best companions. And they really understand, and they’re so loyal and faithful. And I just think your lives are enhanced."

Becoming a dog owner has changed Lisa's life, and now she's helping others seeking this transformative connection with a canine in her new series, Vanderpump Dogs, streaming June 9 only on Peacock. The show takes viewers inside Lisa's West Hollywood rescue center, Vanderpump Dogs, which, since 2016, has found homes for more than 2,000 dogs. 

Each episode chronicles the efforts of Lisa and the Vanderpump Dogs staff as they try to find homes for the pups that have come to the rescue center, as well as the day-to-day operations of the foundation. "It’s about basically finding the right dog for the right person, or the right person for the right dog. And it’s beautiful, poignant, heart-wrenching, happy, funny, but sometimes sad," Lisa told Bravo Insider. "It’s about the rehabilitation of the dogs and then finding them forever homes. And it’s just such a feel-good factor in the show. It’s so beautiful to watch — and if you love dogs as much as I do. But it’s about human emotional stories as well and what the dogs mean to the people and what the people mean to the dogs."

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Because adopting a pet is a lifelong commitment, Lisa and the Vanderpump Dogs staff take this matchmaking process very seriously. "It’s about the bond and it’s about somebody being able to meet the dog’s needs. You do have to think carefully about what you can offer the dog as well. Like, we don’t want to put, say, a Pyrenees mountain dog in a tiny apartment," Lisa explained. "We try to kind of really figure out what the person needs as much as what the dog needs."

As heartwarming as Vanderpump Dogs will be in showcasing these adorable matches, it also doesn't shy away from depicting the more challenging aspects of pet adoption and running a rescue center, such as taking in a mother pregnant with pups, nursing an injured animal back to full health, or trying to find a home for a dog nearing the end of its life. "Well, that’s the reality of rescue," Lisa said, adding that the dogs that come to the rescue center "really need every ounce of help they can get." "We just don’t want to throw their lives away like they’re not important. We want to rehabilitate them and rebuild them and get them back up and running. It’s a mission of passion, you know. It really is."

Even though Lisa is used to being in front of the camera, filming Vanderpump Dogs was still a unique experience compared to her other well-known TV projects. "It was a different kind of emotional challenge, filming with dogs, because sometimes I found Housewives could be very difficult and complicated and emotional. And I showed a lot of my kind of personal life," Lisa explained. "This isn’t so much about my personal life as it is about my personal feelings. You know, I’m very emotionally invested in these dogs. And so it was very different. Yeah, it was definitely a very different show. But it was a show that I absolutely adored making."

Lisa shares that passion for animals with the staff at the rescue center also featured in Vanderpump Dogs, including Dr. Andrew Y. Kushnir, Summer Loftis, Brian Marshall, Patrick Miller-Wren, Madeline Quint, and Kendall Young. "That’s a very unusual situation to be in where you all have the love of dogs in common. So it actually, it’s a very different feeling," Lisa said. "It’s not like Vanderpump Rules where occasionally dynamics get complicated, as in any business. But it’s just for the well-being of the dog. That’s the most important."

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Of course, it's not always easy to work at a rescue center when you're a dog lover, especially when every pup that comes through the door tugs at your heartstrings, as they do for Lisa. "Oh, you have no idea. I remember I had an argument, you know, right at the beginning, the first week we opened, because I saw a dog, Milky, and I said, 'Oh, I’ve got to have this dog.' He said, 'No, somebody wants to adopt it.' I was like, 'No, I’ve got to have it.' So right then and there, we were just like OK, stop. We are not in the business of being a hoarder; we’re in the business of rescue," Lisa recalled. "And I found it actually very difficult spending so much time with the dogs in the rescue center. There were a couple of the ones that we adopted out that I really didn’t want to let go. There was a dog called Scotty that I totally fell in love with. And then there was another one called Knight. But they go to beautiful homes. So, yeah, that's the most important thing."

However, Lisa has not ruled out the possibility of expanding her fur family in the future. "I could never say never. But we’ve had quite a lot of heartbreak, you know, with losing Giggy in December. I still have five dogs here. Actually, four big dogs and one little guy, Puffy," she said. "And I’ve still got the swans, and I’ve still got two little ponies and turtles and things. So still a lot going on here."

In addition to fighting for the rights and welfare of animals everywhere, Lisa has long been an ally for the LGBTQ+ community. As one of West Hollywood's most prominent businesspeople, Lisa has often had a major role in the city's annual Pride parade in June. "Well it’s always been, you know, of [the] utmost importance to me, equality for all. And being raised without prejudice of any kind in my family has just been a beautiful thing. And I think, the way we’re raising this generation, you know, to be accepting and inclusive," Lisa reflected on supporting the LGBTQ+ community, adding that "you’ve got to love your children unequivocally" and it's "so important" that for "this generation, we move forward in the right direction."

As Lisa gets ready to celebrate Pride this month, Vanderpump Dogs will definitely be in step with her mission to spread love and kindness for all. "It’s a beautiful show. It’s a feel-good factor. And watch it with your kids as well. And educate them about rescue," Lisa shared. "And it really does have a feel-good factor, but it’s also very poignant. So I’m very proud of the show."

Watch Vanderpump Dogs streaming June 9 only on Peacock.