Shalayne Pulia
Sep 14, 2017 @ 10:45 am

My dog Finn and I met on the set of Big Love, which was a show I started when I was 18. About eight years ago, I came to work on that set and Finn’s sister was there. She looked like a tiny little baby bear. I remember asking the production coordinator about her and she said that the breeder was trying to find a home for even more puppies. So I thought Okay let me just talk to this guy.

I asked him if I could see one and he went right home during our lunch break to grab Finn and bring the little guy back to set. My initial plan was just to foster the puppy because I didn't think I was going to be able to have a dog with me if I was leaving town all the time for work. I've always been obsessed with animals, but I also knew that there’s a responsibility that comes with being a dog owner: You don't get a pet if you can't take care of it.

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Then after 24 hours, I was like, "Aw, shucks." Finn had my heart. I became a dog person overnight. It turns out, if you really love something and you want it badly enough, you can make it work.

So now, I make sure Finn is allowed on set in all of my work contracts. I make it clear that he's a non-negotiable entity in my life. He's family. Obviously, if I'm shooting somewhere where pets aren't allowed, then I make exceptions. But people in the industry know that when they're working with me, they’re also working with my canine companion.

Courtesy Best Friends Animal Society

I have to say, the energy that Finn brings to my workplace is almost crucial. After a while, people start to miss him almost as much as I do when he's not around. He has his own personality that stands with mine, you know? A lot of people that I run into, even on the street, fawn all over him. It's like animal therapy. And I think it’s essential.

My guy has inspired me to get more involved in animal advocacy. He's my spirit animal and my best friend. So I thought it would be really fun for us to do something together, which is why working with Best Friend’s Animal Society just made sense. I did a video with them last year for Strut Your Mutt Day, which is presented by BOBS from Skechers. It’s a one-day celebration and charity walk for animal lovers across the country. We bring together rescue groups, shelters, and individual people to raise money for homeless pets.

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When they asked me to do another video to help raise awareness again this year [featured above], I was like, "Yes! This is what I want to do." Why not spend my time trying to get people involved in this way?

I know that I have a platform—a decent-sized platform. I'm lucky enough to have people listen to me and think that what I have to say is somewhat important. But even if you have three people or you just have your child, it's important to be a guiding force with something positive to say to those who look up to you. I decided to speak for animals because they literally don't have voices. We can all be voices for them. I feel like it’s part of my job to talk about things that are important and hope that at least one person hears me.

Courtesy Best Friends Animal Society

When I was younger, my idea of a shelter pet was probably that they were scrappy or they weren't pure breeds or that they were—I don't know—ill. I'm guessing those are some of the misconceptions held about shelter animals today. But those ideas are wrong.

Some of the shelter pets Best Friends help have been given up or have been found abandoned in homes. They're living beings who’ve lost their families. They're animals that need the kind of love that every other animal deserves. And they're not bred to be sold as your pet. They already exist and they have so much more love to give. I mean, they're dogs and cats— innocent and pure and beautiful! We need to stand up for them. We don't need to keep creating more animals to displace other pets because that's the cause and effect of breeding.

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At the heart of it, shelter pets are animals that have been displaced. Just in the past few weeks, Best Friends sent a ton of resources down south after the hurricanes to help all the homeless animals right on the ground. It’s amazing to see that kind of support in such a heartbreaking situation. God, these hurricanes displace everybody, but you can't forget about the pets.

At this point, I hardly remember life without my dog Finn. I have so much more compassion because of him. He inspires me to be present and mindful every day. The world can stop for me if I just lay with him. It's really that simple.

Best Friends has just opened me up to what the real issues are for pets. It’s beautiful to see all these people coming together, especially for a celebration like Strut Your Mutt, to support beings that can’t support themselves. It reminds me there are incredible people out there advocating for animals. And I get to witness animals finding their new families! It makes you feel like making a difference is possible and that humans are kind and beautiful, too. It also makes me want to do more, to keep fighting for the animals that need our help.

Best Friends Animal Society's Strut Your Mutt Day will happen on Oct. 28. For more information, visit strutyourmutt.org

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