In this interview, I talk to Patty Alleman on how she was able to turn her Boston Terriers into models.
Patty has done several photoshoots as well as short videos with her Boston Terriers. Some of her biggest gigs have been working on the set of Saturday Night Live as well as Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.
In this interview, Patty explains the type of Boston you need, demeanor, and characteristics, as well as talks about the kinds of gigs available.
Let’s get started…
Want To Make Your Boston Terrier Famous? How-To Interview
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On To The Interview With Patty
1) Tell us a little bit about yourself and your Bostons.
Absolutely, so I currently share my house with one Boston and a couple of other breeds, but I do co-own quite a few dogs, so it’s a tricky question to answer because they’re spread out.
But I have been dealing with Bostons, I think we’re coming up on 22 years now.
I started with them as a junior handler, about 11 or 12 years old I began showing my dogs.
Then shortly after that began breeding, and have had numerous Bostons throughout the years.
Right now, we share our home with a super cute guy named Bowie, he is my daughter’s absolute best friend in the whole world.
That’s what we have right now.
2) Did you get started with Bostons first, or was it a different breed that led you to Bostons?
My family’s very animal-focused.
My parents had a hobby farm, and my mom was a dog trainer for a service dog program, and also a groomer. Dogs just played a central role in my life.
I became about 11 or 12 years old, and I told my mom I wanted my dog, I wanted a dog that was my very own and I got in my head that I needed a pug.
I needed a pug in my life. And so she said, “Well, okay, we can get you a dog, what do you want?” And I said, “A pug,” and she’s like, “Oh, okay, that’s an interesting choice.”
We have labs. So it was a very left turn for me.
We ended up going to Delaware County Pug Rescue, and I got an absolutely awesome pug named Bigs, who was big, he was about a 30-pound pug.
Coming from a background where we do a lot of training, I wanted to do something with Bigs. So we tried obedience, and he was not the brightest, and we tried agility, and it turned out that his knees weren’t so great.
So I’m kind of on a crazy whim, I tried confirmation handling, and I went to my first class, looked at my mom and I was like, “This is it. This is my thing, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. This is it,” which was crazy to decide at 11 or 12.
Getting A Conformation Dog, With A Surprise Turn
The instructor from the conformation handling class who I still know today looked at my mom, and he’s like, “She’s really good at this, she’s got a natural knack. But she needs a conformation dog.”
A friend of ours knew someone who bred pugs because I was still on my pug kick, and we went to Miriam Hinckley’s house. So her kennel name was Koch, K-O-C-H, and I was supposed to go and look at pugs that she had.
But she had two to three-week-old litter of Boston Terriers there, and my pug loyalty went out the window.
I was like, that’s adorable.
I need one.
We put a deposit on a Boston, and that was Diva, my very first Boston, and she came home with us a couple of weeks later. I really haven’t looked back. That was that. She was my gateway Boston.
Did you start doing confirmations with Diva?
Yeah, so I did junior handling with her, where they actually judge the child’s ability to handle the dog.
She was a beautiful little dog. So cute, about 13 pounds, brindle and white well-marked, beautiful, beautiful. She just melted your heart every time you looked at her.
Diva had some structural faults, so really, she just became my BFF.
We did juniors together, and she did some sweepstakes stuff when she was a senior, just for fun because she really loved going in the ring more than anything else.
Note: A Sweepstakes in the dog world is a special competition, similar to conformation. However, no champion points are awarded.
That was her thing.
When I realized that she wasn’t really a good candidate for a breed dog. Diva didn’t pass some of her health testings for her eyes, we went and looked for some really nice dogs from some health tested lines.
These Bostons were structurally sound and ready to take that step to the next level and start breeding.
That was maybe, I want to say two years after I got Diva we did that.
3) How long have you been breeding Boston Terriers?
About 20 years.
Yeah. In the Boston world for 22, and I have been breeding Bostons for about 20 years, roughly.
A lot of people look at me and go, “Wait, you’ve been in the breed, how long?” And it’s like okay, but I had a leg up on it with the junior handling stuff.
4) How did you get started doing modeling for your Boston Terriers?
Oh, okay. So a couple of years ago, a friend of mine whose husband is a photographer, reached out to me.
I met them through conformation showing, and they said, “Hey, you have really nice Bostons,” her husband had previously gotten a chance to photograph my dogs for a breed magazine cover. It’s a show magazine.
She said, “You have really beautiful dogs that photograph really well, and they generally behave pretty nicely,” I was like, “Thank you very much.”
And she said, “We used to do this thing now and then in New York, we have an agent for our dogs, but our dogs are old.
The ones who did the most stuff for the agent passed. And she reached out to me, and she’s looking for some really nice dogs that are breed appropriate, and well behaved, and not going to pee on the set or act wild who would like to come up for this photoshoot.
Can I give her your name and your email?”
I said, “Absolutely, that sounds like fun. So she went ahead and gave my name and number to the agent, and the agent reached out to me and said,
“Well, here are the requirements for this shoot. Can you send me pictures of your dogs? What do you have? Let’s see if the client bites, let’s see if they like how your dogs look. They’re not the only ones in the running,”
I said, “Okay, we’ll try.”
At the time, I want to say I had four girls at that point, and a boy and the client specifically asked for females.
I went ahead, and I sent photos of the girls, which would have been Tabby, Tara, Eloise (Ellie), and Havana.
They ended up picking Eloise, who, cute as a button, she was so tiny, because they were working with children they wanted a smaller dog.
Ellie Was Picked
Ellie weighed maybe 12 pounds, black and white. Oh, she was teeny, giant enormous expressive eyes, and smart, so smart.
She’s the one who made it so that I used to have to keep clips on all of our crates because she could turn everyone loose to play with them.
With Ellie being picked, she was always my go-to for most shoots because one, she was little, so cute. She had those giant round, dark eyes, and also she could learn anything.
They were like, “She needs to be able to hit the mark,” I said, “Give me 48 hours,” 48 hours later, Ellie would walk out and hit her mark.
5) What kind of characteristics does a Boston Terrier need to become a dog model?
Every client sends a brief as to what they’re looking for, and it does vary a little bit, shoot to shoot.
For photography and for ad purposes, they want that classic tuxedo. My dogs that have really excelled as models tend to be the ones that have the more classic tuxedo.
They seem to really love that big, dark, expressive eye, the one that when they look in the camera, it just, again, it melts your heart.
They want them to look both smart and soft, and sweet all at the same time.
That’s really physically what they’re looking for. They tend to prefer black and whites and seals over brindles. If you do have a brindle, and this is funny, they photoshopped my dog stripes out.
Brindles tend to get photoshopped
I’ve actually seen some photos of my dogs in ad work where I’m like, “Is that Tabby?” I realized it was, and I couldn’t put my finger on why she looked different, and then I realized they’d photo-shopped out her brindle.
Prefer females over males
They tend to prefer females over males for a family-friendly environment, they prefer females over males.
6) Did you have a mentor? Does the agent provide guidance?
Yeah, you submit stuff to the agents, and you dive in. It’s a learning experience as you go, for sure.
The people who referred me to my agent, they gave me a heads up as to what to expect.
“Hey, she will call you whenever they need a dog. It tends to be very last minute.”
My agent would call, and she’d be like, “Hey, two weeks from today, can you be in New York?” Or, “Hey, they just changed their mind as to what kind of dog they want for a shoot tomorrow, can you be in the city?”
You have to be flexible. It’s very last minute.
There may be instances a shoot you’re anticipating gets canceled. Be flexible! That is one thing I learned, and I was told that, but I didn’t realize how flexible you had to be.
7) Don’t become starstruck
With ad work, and especially with TV work, you have to be really careful not to get starstruck. They’re very much like, “Hey, you’re booked for this show. Just an FYI, this is who the special guest is. Don’t make a big deal.”
8) Patty’s gig On Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live was probably my favorite one we ever did. And, it’s so funny because our skit didn’t even make it to air. We got cut for time. And it was really funny.
So, we did Saturday night live on the episode with Chris Pratt and Ariana Grande, which, again, don’t get starstruck.
Chris Pratt is just as handsome in person as he is on TV and movies and he’s very funny.
Ariana Grande is just a lovely person, she’s absolutely beautiful, and she’s just so sweet and so kind.
The Long Days
Saturday Night Live is a very long day. You show up mid to late morning because obviously it’s a night show and it is live. So, you’re going to be there for quite a while, and you show up for run-throughs.
They sequester you backstage. Sometimes when you watch the show, they do run-throughs in the halls. You’re in the hallway between the elevator lobby and the makeup counters. So, you see everything that goes on, you’re right beside the dressing rooms, and it’s crazy, and it’s incredible.
So much respect!
Seeing the show put on, I have so much respect for everybody at that program. And, you go through all the run-throughs, and then they have an official run through at the beginning of the night right before they record.
Your sketch can get cut at that official run-through, or after the writer’s meeting, or you can get cut after the filming, or they can run out of time.
So, there are three different times that you can get cut and you just don’t know when you’re going to leave. You’re just there.
The greatest experience on the Saturday Night Live set
One of the greatest experiences that was with little Eloise. She was the one that they were like, “This dog, we want her, she’s so cute.” And, she went up, and she was in a sketch with Chris Pratt but was cut for time.
I didn’t get to meet him per se. I literally handed my dog to one of the actors, my dog was in the sketch with him. I stood maybe 10 feet away and just got to watch it all play out.
And then, my dog was handed back to me.
People love dogs!
Because you’re there all day for Saturday Night Live and everybody else is there all day, sometimes the actors and comedians stop and actually visit and play with the dogs because boy that’s a great stress reliever.
My cool experience was, at one point, Ariana Grande and all her backup dancers are walking down the hallway, see the dogs, squeal, she comes running over in these four, or five-inch stilettos throws herself down in the middle of all the dogs.
Because there were several breeds there that day and she just starts cuddling with the dogs. She was in heaven, and it was really cute to see how much everybody appreciated us being there.
9) Are there dog trainers at the photo or video shoots?
They hire you as the dog’s trainer, more or less. That’s how it gets billed. Your dog is booked, but legally speaking, you are it’s trainer because that’s how it’s paid out.
For SNL, all she really had to do was sit on a lap, and I just directed her to where she needed to be looking.
Because at one point, she was supposed to look at the actor, and at one point, she was supposed to look at the camera.
How it works on a set for taking still photos
With still photo shoots, like when we did children’s place. Your Boston would just stay on her mark, and that was her whole training, that was all she had to do.
It was, “Hey, can you make her look here? Can you make her look there? Don’t let her move” easy enough.
10) What was it like being on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver?
Last Week Tonight was the most difficult one we had training-wise, but that was a pretty funny gig. Because the request was for a Boston terrier, highly expressive eyes, nice dark coat, and they wanted me to send photos of her feet.
I thought that’s an interesting request.
The strangest brief I’ve ever had. They were like, “Hey, can you send us detailed photos of the top and bottom of her feet.” And, at this point, they didn’t tell me what the show was, all I knew was it was for a video.
They didn’t tell me it was television. All my agent said was, “Trust me, you want to do this.”
Getting the Last Week Tonight gig
Once we got the gig, we were told my Boston was going to be Sonia Sotomayor. And, I’m like, “The Supreme court judge?” And, they said, “Yeah, Supreme court judge.” And, I, at that point, I didn’t even think about the foot thing until I got on set.
So, what the show had done was they had made puppets feet, exact replicas of her feet on puppet sticks.
How was it being on set?
It was chaos, but the final result was really good.
They kept doing short takes, I mean we were there well past lunch because we started in the morning.
11) What was the most memorable photoshoot?
Probably one of the most fun shoots I went to was a coffee table book photoshoot. The author liked the concept of how dogs interact with each other.
So she created a book showing photos of how dogs essentially play with one another.
The book is called “Between Two Dogs,” by Shaina Fishman.
And I think it’s just a beautiful, beautiful collection of photos. It is a lovely concept.
There’re two Boston terriers on a white background, and it’s a mom and a puppy, and it’s just, it’s adorable. It was so cute, and I really liked it.
12) How can someone start their journey in the dog model world?
First things first is you must find an agent, and you have to keep after them, so make sure they know you’re there. Don’t be pushy, but, ” Hey, here’s my current dog.”
If you get a new dog, you must send them updated photos. There are a lot of dog model agents, at least in my area now, I’m in Pennsylvania, all of our work was in New York.
But down here, a lot of the agents post calls. So you have to keep an eye on their social media accounts to see what the agent is looking for.
The post will be like, “Hey, heads up. If you have a Boston that’s under 15 pounds, contact us and send us a headshot.”
13) Do you have to be a breeder to get started in the dog modeling business?
The people who actually started me on this path were not breeders. They had a really well-trained dog.
It depends on what you want to do. So I do know other breeders who do a lot of ad work because they have puppies.
Twice I’ve had litters of puppies that have been used. But if you have seen the Coach ads with French bulldogs, that’s actually a friend of mine. Those are her dogs, for the most part.
I believe the same agent I did.
If an agency needs a lot of puppies, a breeder will have an advantage
And so for her, especially with Coach, because they use a lot of French bulldog puppies, that’s very much an in for her.
But when you have these ads and stuff where they’re looking for an adult Boston, you absolutely could do it with just a really well-trained family pet.
And I say, well trained. They really need to have basic obedience manners. Be able to sit. They need to be non-reactive around other dogs. They need to be kids safe.
Three Manners, Your Boston Terrier, Needs To Become A Model
- Able to sit on command.
- Non-reactive with other dogs.
- Safe around kids.
Those are the three things I think that go into making a dog that does well in advertising.
14) Is there an agency you could recommend? Or just Google, dog agency, and something would pop up?
Yeah, it depends on where you are. So if you’re near a major city, there’s more likely to be some kind of animal agent in your area. If you’re rural, you might need to drive.
Agency Patty Uses: Animals For Advertising
I regularly drove to New York, which depending on traffic, sometimes two-plus hours away.
I would try to link up with an agent in your area because finding gigs without one is slim. Most ad agencies and most companies that are going to use an animal want to go through an agent because an agent’s going to prescreen dogs for their skill levels.
As well as their abilities and they’re going to know at least after their first instance with the owner, if that trainer really knows what they’re doing, if they can pull it off.
Because once you’ve worked with a client, if they have a positive experience, a lot of times, they’ll ask for you back.
That’s how we ended up with the Children’s Place ads because Eloise, I mean, she made me look good. She was a consummate professional, and she worked with them several times because of that.
15) What can people expect to be paid when their dog is a model?
So it really, it varies as to where the job is. And the one thing that I noticed having a good agent can make a difference as to pay scale.
Our agent was excellent because if the client really wanted one of my dogs, she was very clear with the client that I was coming in up to two hours away.
And that I needed a little extra per diem for the travel, which was really, really nice of her and thoughtful.
Price-wise, we tended to not do lower-end jobs because it was such a travel situation.
There are $100 a day jobs. There are $200 a day jobs. The most per diem I had received was in the $400 or $500 range.
It really varies quite a bit job to job, that’s for sure.
16) Any plans for trying to make your Boston Terrier a movie star?
I love the idea of getting into movies with my dogs, but that tends to be pretty specialized.
There are some people I know who have had dogs in movies or have had parts in movies. Generally, movie studios like to work with a trainer that trains for that.
And then that trainer sometimes sources dogs.
There are situations that I know of where they have a trainer that really specializes, and it is very specialized because we’ve done some work for social media clips, and it gets hard once you start turning sound on.
Anything else you would like to add?
The only thing I can think of is if you do want to see my dogs, Bowie, my current Boston, does have an Instagram account.
It’s @BostonTerrie Bowie, and if anybody did want to get in touch with me, my email is TalaveraBostons@gmail.com.
Thank you so much. This was wonderful.
List Of Dog Model Agencies And Resources
Thanks for checking out this article here are some great links to help you get started on your dog modeling journey.
- Animals For Advertising: Agency Patty Uses
- Got Pet-Ential Animal Talent: Services 21 States
- Models Direct
- Hollywood Paws
- Top Dog Tips: How To Get Your Dog Started As A Dog Model
- Iheart Dogs: Dog Modeling: Secrets From A Professional
Thank you to Patty for coming on to the podcast. I loved learning about how she was able to turn her little cute Boston’s into models.
If you want to learn more, I highly encourage you to contact Patty via her website, Facebook, or Instagram.
Contact Info And Links
Here are the different places you can contact Patty.
- Website: Talavera Bostons
- Email: Talaverabostons@gmail.com
- Facebook Page: Patty Alleman
- Bowies Instagram Account: @bostonterrierbowie
If you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe to the Boston Terrier Society Podcast as well as its YouTube Channel.