Lindsey Vonn and her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Lucy, are the hosts of Amazon Studios' new reality competition, The Pack. The Amazon series, which premieres on Nov. 20, sees 12 teams of dogs and their humans compete in an epic adventure around the world, including in Paris, Costa Rica, Mexico City and more.
On the line: US$750,000 split for the winning pair and their charity (US$500,000 to the winners and US$250,000 to their chosen charity).
HELLO! Canada spoke with the Olympian and P.K. Subban's fiancé about the series and its cast of four-legged friends. We also spoke about their partners, her furry co-star, travelling with pets, the coronavirus pandemic and more.
HELLO! Canada: How are you doing? How are the dogs?
Lindsey Vonn: I’m good, thanks. Lucy is here with me. The other two dogs [Bear and Leo] are roaming around Utah with my sister. But everyone is doing well, thanks.
Why did you choose Lucy to be a part of the show? Was it a conscious choice to choose one dog?
Well, I had tried actually to adopt a dog in Europe. And I went to three different countries, and no one would let me adopt them because I didn’t live there, I was from the U.S. And it was very confusing to me; it didn’t make a lot of sense.
But then my friend found a dog breeder in Italy. I thought that I was going to get a Pomeranian. When I got there, there were all these small dogs running around in a circle and Lucy was sitting in the middle. And I said, "Do you want to go home with me?" And she was like [Lindsey tilts her head in response in imitation of Lucy].
So I knew right then. You’re not supposed to pick up puppies before you get them, you know, with health issues, but as soon as she looked at me and tilted her head like that, I knew that Lucy was for me.
And she responded immediately to the name Lucy, too. I went through a couple of different names and as soon as I said "Lucy," she was like [Lindsey tilts her head to each side].
So, from that moment travel has always been a part of your story with Lucy?
Yeah. From that moment when she was three months old, I was in the middle of my season and we travelled to the first hotel, and we travelled to one or two hotels from then until the end of the season, so she's used to being on the road. She has two different passports. She has been to Chile, she has been to Norway, she has been to Korea. I mean, she has definitely travelled the world. She is a spoiled princess.
Has it always been easy travelling with her?
She has always been good at travel. I will say in the beginning that it wasn't easy to potty train her because we were always in a different place. She was good with potty pads and then when we moved to grass it was a mess there for a while.
But she is always very relaxed. She loves people. She loves flying. Going to the airport is her favourite place in the world. She gets so much attention. We get on the plane and she's literally snoring within two minutes. She loves it. She has always been good at it. Some dogs don't take well to it, but Lucy is a traveller. She loves to travel.
So, it must be a bit of a change right now for her.
Yeah. She's like, "Why aren't we going on a trip right now?" She's used to always being on the go which is actually the same adjustment for me. I was always packing and unpacking every week with COVID, I have been in the same place more time than I ever have since I was maybe six or seven years old – which is good because I think you learn more about yourself when you’re stationary as opposed to when you're always travelling.
When was The Pack filmed?
It was filmed end of January to beginning of March. It was about an eight-week time period. You know, we were really lucky that all the travel and everything was good, and that we didn't have any problems. The dogs flew privately and we went to, I think it was eight different countries and it was so much fun.
A lot of the contestants had never travelled with their dogs because they were too big and so this was an incredible experience for them and I think they're having withdrawals from not travelling with their dogs or not being with them 24 hours a day.
Have you watched the show or part of it after it was filmed?
Yeah, I watched a couple of episodes. It's crazy because even though I experienced it, I still get very emotional. There's so many different experiences in the show when the contestants are going through emotional times or when the bond between the dog and the partner is tested, and there's just so many incredible moments in the show, not just from an adventure perspective, but from a human perspective, that I really enjoyed watching it.
Like I said, I already know what happens, but I was blown away by how well it was put together and I think everyone's going to love it.
Do you watch it differently given that you participated from a travel perspective or do you still see more the connection between the dogs and their partners?
I see it more from a connection between the dogs and their partners' perspective because I was kind of more objective. I wasn't in the competition. I could see more how they were growing as people, how they were growing as dogs, how they were growing as partners, and it was really cool to watch that and have that experience with them.
Did you have any say in the casting or have any background information on the contestants before filming?
I had a little bit of background [information], but not much. I kind of enjoyed getting to know people. I wasn't really allowed to get to know them until further into the show because it is an adventure show and there is a prize at the end, so I didn't want to ruin the contest. But they are great people. Everyone on the show was incredible to work with and to be around. To go on these adventures with these incredible people and dogs was so much fun.
There's such a unique range of dog breeds and ages as well as people.
I had never seen a dog like Kepo [a Texas Blue Lacy breed] before. Such a smart dog; so cute. And of course Derby [a Goldendoodle] and Snow [a Standard Poodle whose signature look is a unicorn horn and highlights] with the hair: like always flopping around, with the highlights and the unicorn thing. So cute.
Just the range of skills that they have: Some were very skilled, some weren't. It was a really wide range. It was cool to see their skills all grow during the show and for me, I just wanted to hang out with the dogs. I was like, "Can I play with the dogs?" Lucy is like, "I want my own chair." I'm like, "I just want to go and play with the dogs. See you later."
Were there any cute or funny moments that stand out?
There were tons. Every episode I felt like was something new, especially for Lucy and I because we got to do most of the challenges ourselves before the contestants did. So, Lucy and I had some pretty incredible adventures. There's just always something new, always something more fun than the next, which is really hard to do, especially for me. I'm an adrenaline junkie, and I love doing anything that's challenging or anything that's thrill-seeking, and for me to be able to do those things with Lucy was just so fun and it was such an amazing experience.
Given that some of the dogs hadn't travelled before, were there any moments where the dogs were fearful?
Surprisingly not. All of the dogs were very curious. Some of the dogs had never seen the snow before and they loved it. They were just playing in it all day long. That's the thing: You don't know how they’re going to react, but at the same time they're also training beforehand. They had an orientation for all of the dogs so they were prepared so to speak. But, just seeing their love and curiosity for travelling, as long as they're with their partners, they were happy.
Would you have any tips for people in general who are travelling with their pets, based on your experiences?
I think dogs feed off of you, right? So, if you're anxious or scared, they're going to be anxious or scared. If you're confident and calm when you travel, they're going to be the same. They're going to follow your lead. So it's basically about setting that example. And I've always been really, really low-key and relaxed with Lucy and that is how she has behaved as well and I think that was the key for us.
Lindsey and Lucy during a glamorous moment in Vienna. Photo: © Scott Holloway/Amazon Studios
Can you tell us about the charitable element of the show and prize because it's such an important part?
I was really, really happy that they did that, US$250,000 went to every single stop that we did on the show. We helped the local communities, the local dog shelters, a bunch of charity organizations that we helped out along the way, which was incredible, and something that I really enjoyed. I cried a couple of times. These people really needed our help and I was so happy that we were able to help them.
And the winner getting another $250,000 to donate to the charity of their choice. There's so much more to the show than just a competition. It's about dogs, and the love we have for them, and I think however we can help them is incredibly invaluable.
We love dogs and we want that to come through in the show and for everyone to know that we helped as many dogs as we could along the way.
In this challenging time, it’s really hard to be separated from family and friends. It’s also a time when everyone needs a beautiful escape. Here at Hello! Canada, we’re still busy creating the magazine you know and love, to spread positivity and provide some entertainment as a gentle reprieve from all the hard news. And with our new special offer for subscribers, there’s never been a better time to have Hello! delivered directly to your front door. Why not treat yourself, or someone you love, today?