Filming the new Apple TV+ series “Puppy Place” during the pandemic came with all kinds of challenges and protocols to keep everyone on set safe. Good thing the puppy actors knew just what to do — not always in the “acting” part, but definitely in the way of playing, cuddling and climbing on your lap and licking your face.
As the creator and executive producer of the show, Andrew Green says that having a crew of dog actors on set was the best therapy for pandemic working conditions. For anyone having a rough day, there was always a cute, cuddly friend around.
The new series, premiering on Oct. 15, is based on Scholastic’s best-selling book series written by Ellen Miles. It chronicles the adventures of dog-loving siblings Charles and Lizzie Peterson, and the puppy pals they foster in search of forever homes.
Each of the eight live-action episodes tells the story of a puppy who finds his or her way to the Peterson family. Charles (Riley Looc) and Lizzie (Brooklynn MacKinzie), whose different approaches complement, inspire and occasionally confound one another, do whatever it takes to find a happy, loving home for each and every dog. Discovering what makes each puppy special offers a unique perspective that helps the pair overcome their own individual hurdles. The series is executive produced by Lole Lucchese, Caitlin Friedman and Jeff Kaminsky of Scholastic Entertainment and Andrew Green.
We recently chatted with L.A.’s own Green, a three-time Emmy-nominated writer and producer about the new show.
Tell us why you took on this project?
I’m crazy about dogs. I was having dinner with an Apple TV executive and mentioned that I’d love to create a kids show that takes place in the world of dog adoption. What I didn’t know was that Apple was already in the midst of securing the rights to Scholastic’s “The Puppy Place” book series. They invited me to pitch on the adaptation, and I’d never wanted a job more. This is a dream show for me.
How many dogs participated in this series?
Between our guest star puppies and doggy extras, we worked with about 50 dogs this season.
So amazing that 11 dogs were adopted by the crew. Tell us more about that.
A lot of people meet their best friends at work, right? About a month before filming an episode, our amazing trainers find and begin working with the dogs we’ll be using. During that month, the dogs come to set, both to rehearse and to meet and interact with everyone in order to get more comfortable. It doesn’t take very long to fall in love with them. For the puppies and adult dogs that need forever homes, there’s always a line of people waiting.
Filming with dogs can be challenging. Any experiences you’d like to share?
Ha! Yes, challenging, indeed! While the characters our dogs portray have unique personality traits that drive the stories, you can’t give dogs notes like, “Okay, now that you’re feeling more comfortable with the Petersons, we’d love you to wag your tail a little more.” In one episode, we needed our puppy to be nervous around other dogs, but he was super friendly and wanted to play all the time. Also, if you’re in the middle of a scene and a dog decides it’s time to take a break, they’re gonna take a break. We learned to always expect the unexpected. And yet, we were still surprised on a daily basis.
During the pandemic, we all realized just how wonderful pets can be. Tell us about your personal experience working on this project and as a dog owner yourself.
For sure, the uptick in pet adoptions has been a silver lining during the pandemic. So many first-time pet parents are finally experiencing the love and comfort animals give us. Between the pandemic itself and extra safety protocols we put in place during production, there were many new challenges none of us had faced before, and we learned to adapt on the fly. Thankfully, the dogs knew nothing of the pandemic. For them, it was business as usual, which meant lots of playtime and plenty of kisses. It was something we all needed. It didn’t matter how rough a day we were having, the dogs always brought smiles to our faces. Personally, one of the best things about making “Puppy Place” was being able to bring Bruno, my 18-year-old, wobbly-legged dachshund, to work with me every day. He also guest-starred in one of the episodes as — spoiler alert — an 18 year-old, wobbly-legged dachshund.
What message do you hope kids watching “Puppy Place” will take away?
There are so many amazing dogs who would love nothing more than to be a part of your family. Adopting a dog, or helping one find their forever home, is one of the most rewarding experiences you will have in your lifetime.
When not working, what do you enjoy doing in and around L.A.?
In addition to Bruno, I have an 11-year-old pig named Basil. We used to go on daily walks around the neighborhood, but he’s slowing down a bit and prefers to hang out at home and watch TV while enjoying belly rubs. I also love working out, playing tennis and softball and experiencing great new restaurants. But, obviously, no pork
Watch the Trailer for “Puppy Place.”