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TV Host Mark Steines Talks About His Life With Dogs

We catch up the host of Hallmark Channel's "Home and Family" to talk about his love of dogs, including Fred, the family Golden Retriever.

Marina Anderson  |  Jan 27th 2015


Mark Steines is an award-winning journalist who hosts the Hallmark Channel’s Emmy-nominated lifestyle show Home & Family. He can be seen creating recipes in the kitchen, using his carpentry skills to build and repurpose items, interviewing celebrity guests and experts, and chatting with co-host Cristina Ferrare.

The longtime host and anchor of Entertainment Tonight, Steines also has a passion for photography. His work is displayed in many Hollywood homes and offices, and his photo book, See the Light: A Passage to Sierra Leone, helps to document Light House Medical Mission’s journey to raise awareness for fresh water in impoverished countries.

Three male family members, Avery, Kai, and Fred, are the other passions in his life, but Fred clearly stands out as the one who is oh-so-special. It’s OK. There’s no jealousy from Steines’ sons, as Fred is their Golden Retriever!

TV journalist Mark Steines with his sons, Kai (left) and Avery, and their family dog, Fred. (Photo courtesy of Mark Steines)

TV journalist Mark Steines with his sons, Kai (left) and Avery, and their family dog, Fred. (Photo courtesy of Mark Steines)

Steines has an irresistible combination of charm, smarts, sense of humor, and compassion, which was on full display as I chatted with him about his life with dogs.

Marina Anderson for Dogster: What a beautiful dog Fred is! How did you come up with his name?

Mark Steines: Long story. I spent several weeks training my children before bringing a pet into their lives. It was a stalling tactic, as I knew we were invited to the set of a Disney film and would be adopting one of the Golden Retrievers from the cast of Spooky Buddies.

We all agreed that if just two of us agreed on a name that would be it. As you can imagine, the boys came up with all these silly names, like Lightsaber. While driving home from work, the name Fred just popped into my head, but when I proposed the new name option to my boys over dinner that night, they shot it down.

The canine cast of Spooky Buddies, including puppy Fred in the bunny ears.

The canine cast of Spooky Buddies, including puppy Fred in the bunny ears.

Shortly after that, we boarded a plane to fly to the set in Vancouver to meet our new friend. My boys were asked to play with the puppies during one of the breaks on set to get to know them better. They fell in love with B-Dog. When the handler brought us all together for our first family photo, the handler/trainer informed my boys that B-Dog was his character’s name, but that the puppy we selected already had a name, and it was FRED! We knew at that moment that we had found a perfect match for the Steines family. He was meant to be with us. He is the best dog I have ever had!

Talk about getting a psychic vibe. That is so cool! Why choose a Golden Retriever?

I had heard great things about the demeanor of the Golden. They make wonderful family pets.

Avery and Kai with puppy Fred. (Photo courtesy of Mark Steines)

Avery and Kai with puppy Fred. (Photo courtesy of Mark Steines)

They certainly do. I had one for 15 years: my buddy, Dalton. Does Fred help with emotional support for you and your two boys?

Fred tucks the boys in bed every night and wakes them up in the morning. He is a lover and cuddler! He sleeps at the foot of their bed or outside their bedroom door.

Awwww, tucking them in … kind of like Nana in Peter Pan. Any special diet?

Fred was once 107 pounds! I was unaware of the eating habits of the Goldens and how they will eat themselves to an early grave. I discussed it with Fred’s vet, and he was put on Hills RD prescription dog food. I added carrots and pumpkin to his diet. I also convinced Fred that ice cubes are food. He has lost 20 pounds since we started!

Puppy Fred learns good manners. (Photo courtesy of Mark Steines)

Puppy Fred learns good manners. (Photo courtesy of Mark Steines)

That’s wonderful. Is he a very social dog?

Fred is happy-go-lucky and enjoys playing with other dogs, big or small. He is the friendliest dog I have ever seen.

Choose three words to describe Fred.

Playful, kind, loyal.

Fred. (Photo by Mark Steines)

Fred. (Photo by Mark Steines)

If you could be any breed of dog, what would it be?

I would be Fred. I love his attitude and his sensitivities to others. He is so tuned into other people and how they are feeling. If you are happy, he meets you on that level. When we are sick, he checks on us. If you are lazy, he is lazy with you. If you are eating, he will try to eat your food with you.

Do you “correct” people in public? For example, if a dog is left in a car or someone isn’t carrying water for their dog on a roasting hot day?

If I see a dog in danger, I will approach the owner, but I don’t correct others on their pets’ behavior unless that behavior is aggressive and threatens others. But, yes, if a dog is in harm’s way, I will do whatever is needed to correct the situation.

Mark and Fred at the beach. (Photo courtesy of Mark Steines)

Mark and Fred at the beach. (Photo courtesy of Mark Steines)

Applause! Was there a specific incident that motivated you to be so involved with animals?

I grew up in Iowa and spent a lot of time on the farm around animals. Dogs have always been a part of my life, and I know the benefits of having one in my house. They teach us so much.

Yes, they do! Do you have a “dog mission”?

I support spay/neuter, for sure.

What do you love to do most with Fred?

Snuggle and watch the joy my boys have with him. He has a moment in his day with “puppy energy” — right after eating, which usually means a game of “chase your tail” or “rub my belly.” We enjoy taking him to our place in Ojai. Fred loves it up there, he has so much space to run and play. He travels extremely well. He is so chill in the car.

The boys at home. (Photo courtesy of Mark Steines)

The boys at home. (Photo courtesy of Mark Steines)

Any quirky personality traits?

He is the food thief. Anything left unattended on the counter is gone. We’ve learned our lessons.

Does Fred inspire you to take photos?

Yes, I will take him out for a walk and take my camera with me. Never know when the moment hits or the opportunity arises.

Fred checks out the pool. (Photo courtesy of Mark Steines)

Fred checks out the pool. (Photo courtesy of Mark Steines)

Has Fred appeared on Home & Family?

Yes, he has. He has appeared on several animal segments.

I’ll bet everyone lavishes him with attention.

When we come out of commercial break, all of our guests and crew applaud, and whenever that happens, Fred takes off and will run as if he is taking a bow or taking the stage! It’s very funny to watch. I don’t know where he gets that. I guess he truly is a show dog!

Do you like to dress up Fred in clothes or holiday costumes?

The only dress up was when he was a puppy for the movie. You can see him on the cover of the DVD — he is in the blue bunny ears.

Fred enjoys a sunset. (Photo by Mark Steines)

Fred enjoys a sunset. (Photo by Mark Steines)

How do your sons, Avery and Kai, divvy up sharing time with Fred?

My boys are very good about sharing, but I always make them take him for a walk together. I want them to always remember the three of them together. When they get older and I am no longer here, I want them to look back and remember those walks with Fred.

If you had all the time and money to devote to animals, how many would you have and where would you live?

I would live on a ranch in the Colorado mountains. I really enjoy the change of seasons, open spaces, and I would want to get a giant fireplace. It would be great to have a lot of dogs and a few horses!

To keep up with Mark, visit his website and the Home and Family site, and follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Read more celebrity interviews by Marina Anderson on Dogster:

About Marina Anderson: Marina is an actress, writer, best-selling author (David Carradine, The Eye of My Tornado), jewelry designer (The Flying Goddess), and publicist (The Media Hound PR) for clients such as Robby Benson, Ed Begley Jr., and music icon Alan Parsons and Gary U.S. Bonds. She is also a personal manager and career and spiritual consultant. Marina’s passion is helping animal rescue organizations. Look for her next book, The Adventures Of Lulu The Collie, which stars her beloved dog, Lulu, daughter to Lassie VIII, and keep up with her work by following her on Facebook.