Busy comedic actor and TV personality Brian Unger is perhaps an unlikely dog owner. Known for his unique brand of wit on shows such as It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the Los Angeles-based talent has played every role from field producer for Maury Povich to correspondent on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. But when he’s not in front of the camera or writing for TV, Unger is spending his time much like the rest of us: hanging out with his dogs.
The 50-year-old animal lover had mutts growing up, but his foray into dog parenthood has been purebred. After spending a summer on Long Island, he fell in love … with a friend’s French Mastiff. Today, he has his own named Louis (four years old and 140 pounds, named after another friend’s collection of European designer handbags), along with a Great Dane, Bison (six years old and 170 pounds).
Unger welcomed both Bison and Louis into his home as pups. Although Bison is the alpha, the two are like brothers, or “buddies” as Unger calls them. “They’re incredibly compatible for two males. There’s rarely, if ever, any confrontation,” he says. “I think that’s because they’re both part working breed; they feel like a pack and have a united mission.”
The two are very well-trained so they’re usually on their best behavior, even during feedings. In fact, they dutifully run alongside Unger when he rides horses. The only time their doggy ways might get the best of them? If a new toy is introduced.
A new pup also will be joining the family soon. “It’s time to get something ankle-high,” Unger says, who’s going to make sure his new French Bulldog puppy is socialized before he arrives. But he’s not particularly worried about a short-and-stout breed joining his pack of gentle giants.
“[Bison and Louis], while they’re giant breeds, they are both naturally nurturing, even with small dogs.” In fact, Bison is part of The Mindful Dog playgroup, where he acts as guardian of the Chihuahua-sized pups.
Although Unger spends much of his day out in the field traveling and reporting, the pooches usually stay at home.
“They are generally homebodies,” Unger says. “California has cars and heat — the combination isn’t great. [And] they’re disappointed every time I walk out the door. They’d like to come with me.”
Parental guilt aside, Unger is keenly focused on his new Travel Channel series, Time Traveling with Brian Unger, which premiered this spring and is a sort of natural extension of his previous project, How the States Got Their Shapes.
He describes it as “food for additional thought about how we can link history to our contemporary settings in America.” Essentially, the show takes viewers into towns all throughout the country while explaining some of the lesser known historical significance with the help of some cool CGI graphics. “There’s an innate curiosity … looking at a street corner and asking what was there before,” Unger muses.
With 18 episodes under Unger’s belt and locales ranging from Washington D.C. to Las Vegas, asking him to pick a favorite episode is like forcing him to pick just one pooch from his brood. “They’re all my favorite,” he insists. He’s been to Kentucky to unearth the history of thoroughbred racing and bourbon making; San Francisco during the Great Depression to witness the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge; and Tombstone, Arizona, to see gunslingers rule the Wild West.
These kinds of historical adventures make one wonder whether Bison and Louis would enjoy time travel, right?
Without skipping a beat, Unger deadpans: “I’m sure they would love any era where there are giant rubber toys and bones with marrow.”
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About the author: Whitney C. Harris is a New York-based freelance writer for websites including StrollerTraffic, Birchbox and WhattoExpect.com. A former book and magazine editor, she enjoys running (with Finley), watching movies (also with Finley), and cooking meatless meals (usually with Finley watching close by).