Written By: Celestial Holmes
Ten teams, each consisting of one top groomer and their assistant, will compete across eight episodes to be deemed Pooch Perfect. Week after week, the teams will face difficult challenges. After the groomers showcase their skills, their pups will strut their stuff on the dogwalk. The losing team will be sent to the doghouse. The winners of the competition will receive a coveted trophy and a cash prize of $100,000. Each challenge will be judged by Lisa Vanderpump, Jorge Bendersky, and Dr. Callie Harris, a veterinarian. Take a look at the trailer for the series here.
BGN had a Zoom conversation with Dr. Harris. She was candid with us about her journey to becoming a veterinarian, the fun of working on Pooch Perfect, and the difficulty of choosing a fan favorite.
I’ve never seen a Black veterinarian, let alone a Black female vet. What interested you in becoming a veterinarian?
I love this question. You literally sound like my husband when we met and he found out my occupation. He said, “Wow, I think you might be the second Black vet that I’ve ever known in life.” The short version of this is that I have always loved animals. That’s where it started from when I was a little kid. I was the quintessential kid going outside trying to save any living creature I could, bring them inside, much to my mom and my dad’s disgust. [Laughs.] It just all started with a passion and a love for animals. It really started to take flight when I got to undergrad. I went to Tennessee State University. My parents went there; that’s where they met. I was a biology major because I knew that I loved the sciences, and I had some inkling that I was going to go to med school. It was actually one of my old roommates that told me, “You love animals. You’ve always been a little bit psychotic about your pets. Why would you not just go to vet school?” In that moment, I changed my major from biology to pre-vet and the rest is history.
What would you say is the most rewarding part of being a veterinarian?
The most rewarding part of being a veterinarian? That’s actually a really tough question. I would say it is, honestly, waking up every day and loving what I do. That’s the most rewarding part. I could go down a list of aspects of being a practicing vet, and saving lives, and meeting the pet parents, and obviously working with animals is phenomenal, but that’s the very obvious of it. That’s why we go into veterinary medicine. But when I take a step back and really evaluate my life and try to take inventory of what drives me, it’s the fact that I get up every day and I’m passionate and happy about my line of work. So that’s the most rewarding aspect.
Tell me a little about your role in Pooch Perfect.
I am a judge for this creative grooming contest. I was brought into the mix to not only provide my judgment on these creations that we’re going to see in each episode, but also to provide support and care for the pets that are being groomed, as well as support for the groomers. You probably can guess that safety and the overall well-being of all the pets that were involved was my number one priority, along with everybody else at Pooch Perfect. I was so happy to have a seat at the table to do both.
Has this been a fun departure from your normal day-to-day veterinary tasks?
I was actually describing this to my sister when she asked, “What made working for Pooch Perfect so much fun?” My background is in emergency medicine and critical care, so I have seen all types of critical cases. I’ve worked with the really scary scenarios that come into the ER clinic. Currently, I do more on the nutrition side by working for Purina. What I enjoyed the most about Pooch Perfect was, honestly, getting an opportunity to interact with healthy, happy pets. My patients, when they’re coming in, may not be that happy and they’re definitely not that healthy. These pooches that were involved with the show and being groomed, they were just happy. They love the attention. Being able to interact with animals that I’m not having to administer care and treatment to was a phenomenal departure.
Give us an idea or summation of what we can expect from the show. What should we tune in for?
You are absolutely going to want to tune in for a few things. Number one, the creativity, the artistry, the passion that all of these groomers possess — it is going to be a truly magical experience. I can promise you that. Number two, and this is something that was really important to me, the demonstration of the love and the overall importance of a human-animal bond. The human-animal bond is a mutually beneficial relationship. It is what drives us to have pets. It drives me to go to work every day. That is going to be on full display. Then last, but certainly not least, you’re going to see some happy pups. These were essentially the creme de la creme of dogs that enjoy the attention, that enjoy the interaction. You guys are going to walk away feeling so happy, so warm on the inside, and I cannot wait to bear witness to that.
Are you able to predict for us who you think the fan favorite will be?
That is a tough question. Just to be completely transparent, I loved every single groomer on the show. That’s what the challenge was for me with providing judgment. I had to put my emotions and my relationships, that rose organically, aside. If I had to choose, I honestly think that there’s probably going to be a fan favorite every single episode. Okay, that’s my final answer. [Laughs.]
Dr. Harris is definitely someone I’d trust with my pup any day, based on her experience, warmth, and inviting demeanor. I’m looking forward to curling up with my little furry bestie and enjoying the show.
Tune in to watch the series premiere of Pooch Perfect, Wednesday, March 30, 2021, at 8 pm EST on ABC.
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