Jodi Lyn O’Keefe’s long and varied career has taken her from the small screen to the big screen and back again. Fans know her from TV staples like Nash Bridges, Prison Break, and Two and a Half Men. She’s also recognizable as epic mean girl Taylor Vaughan in the ‘90s classic She’s All That. She currently plays Lionel Davenport on VH1’s popular drama Hit The Floor.
Acting isn’t the only consistent thing in O’Keefe’s life—she’s also a serial animal lover. We caught up with her to talk about rescue, fostering, and her three rambunctious dogs: George, Moses, and Vivian.
TAILS: Can you tell us a little about each of your dogs?
Jodi Lyn O’Keefe: George is eight and a half and the raddest French Bulldog that ever lived. I call him “The Original Gangster.” He’s been with me for eight and a half years, and actually came from a puppy mill. I found him at a pet store; he weighed less than a pound and he was very sick. I couldn’t leave him there. He wasn’t exactly a rescue, but I feel like I rescued him.
Moses was a foster and so was Vivian. Both are English Bulldogs. Moses is only seventeen months, and Vivian is seven months.
Moses has turned into my dream dog—he’s the loveliest dude on the planet. I don’t think I’ve ever had a dog like this before! He’s really mellow, unless he’s chasing his ball. Vivian is kind of high energy, but she’s very sweet. It’s been awhile since I’ve had a girl [dog] and I was missing that girl energy in my house. I call her “The Dog of Love.”
Two puppies? Oh boy!
It’s an extraordinary thing. There’s a lot of energy in my house right now.
Have you always been passionate about pets?
Always. They’re people in fur suits to me. They’re members of the family.
How do you balance your busy schedule with being a pet parent?
The cool thing about my job is that either I’m working around the clock or I’m not working at all. If I’m not here during the day they have a dog door that they use to go in and out of, and then I have someone come by and take them all for a walk. They don’t spend too many hours on their own. It actually turns out to be easier to have more than one dog because they keep each other company and they play.
So they all get along?
Right now the other room is like the Doggie WWF—they’re having a full wrestle on the couch… which has been destroyed.
How did you get started fostering?
I have a lot of girlfriends who work with rescues and they know that if there’s a desperate situation or they need some help they can call me up because I’m always ready to welcome anyone. It seems to me that whenever I lose a dog there’s always a foster that happens to need a home at that moment. And so it just kind of happens.
I have such love for everyone covered in fur. The fact that I can give them a safe place to be until they find their forever home…it’s awesome. I just want them to have a happy experience and maybe help them readjust and find the right fit. And sometimes that right fits turns out to be my house.
With three dogs now, do you plan to continue fostering?
I never say never. Right now I have the time to look after another animal, so if one of my friends calls me and there’s somebody who needs a space—and if I can introduce them to the pack and everybody gets along—it would be great.
What is your favorite part about being a pet parent?
Everything is my favorite part about it. I don’t think I can even describe it. They’re these little balls of unconditional love and they can read your feelings and they know how your day is going. And then when you walk into a house and everybody’s happy to see you…. It just adds so much joy to my world.
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