Actor Jonathan Slavin is a busy guy. He plays Clark the nurse on the hit show Dr. Ken and makes appearances on another ABC comedy, Speechless. His television career makes for long days on set, but this animal lover prioritizes his pack of rescue pups over sleeping in.
“I get up early so that I can spend time [with them] and make sure everyone is doing good and that no one is feeling neglected,” Jonathan told Dogster.
A dedicated animal advocate and rescuer, Jonathan and his husband, Michael, currently have four dogs ranging in size from 8 pounds to 80.
“Three dogs is amazing, four dogs is a nightmare,” he joked.
All about Jonathan Slavin’s rescue dogs
Jonathan rescued his oldest dog, Annie, from a shelter the day before she was scheduled to be euthanized. Just 10 weeks old, the Doberman-Rottweiler mix had been hit by a car and had broken her hip.
“She was going to be a foster, but she was just kind of a difficult puppy and no one who met her wanted her, so she stayed with me,” he explained.
Next Jonathan and Michael adopted Rupert, a Bichon Frisé mix found running on a freeway near their California home.
“He was a disaster,” said Jonathan, recalling how Rupert’s coat was a painful tangle of mats.
“There were actually thorns embedded in his skin that had been caught under his hair,” he explained.
Nervous at first, Rupert initially preferred to stay hidden under furniture, but Jonathan said the little dog soon fell in love with Michael, who works from home.
The couple’s third dog came to them in even worse shape than Rupert.
“Her name is Jessicalang; it’s all sort of one word,” Jonathan explained with warning to fellow rescuers. “Be careful what you call a dog as a joke when you’re on your way to the vet with a stray who you have no intention of keeping — because it can stick.”
Jessicalang was in heat and infested with fleas when she was dumped near Jonathan and Michael’s home. The tiny dog had clearly never lived indoors, but after a period of adjustment she learned to love being a house dog who gets to sleep in a bed.
The fourth pup, Bob, is a Chihuahua-terrier mix who was not supposed to be a permanent member of the pack. Found in a box on the street with three siblings, Bob was the only one of his litter to not get adopted right away. He was destined for the shelter when Jonathan offered to foster him.
“That was definitely the plan, but I have a pig — a rescue pig — and it was like she got a puppy.”
Jonathan Slavin’s lifelong passion for animals — including pigs
A vegan for more than two decades, Jonathan’s enthusiasm for animals knows no species. He also lives with six cats, a cockatoo, a tortoise and Penelope, the pig who adopted Bob.
She had never really cared for the dogs before meeting young Bob, so when Jonathan saw how Penelope was basically adopting the pup, he couldn’t bear to split them up.
With the addition of Bob, Jonathan’s pack of foster failures seems complete for now. He said his dogs are a lot of responsibility, and while he certainly doesn’t recommend a foursome of rescue dogs for everyone, he does hope potential pet parents consider how a shelter animal could fit into their own busy lives.
He recalls rescuing his very first dog, Ella, back when he was living in New York City, long before booking Dr. Ken.
“It is an absolutely worthwhile responsibility,” he said. “It takes so little from us to give them a great quality of life.”
Thumbnail: Photography by Russ Levi Photography.
Read more about actors and dogs on Dogster.com:
Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer and pet parent to two dogs, GhostBuster and Marshmallow. Her human toddler is messier than any pig. Heather is on Twitter at @HeatherMarcoux.