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If you’re a contemporary comedy fan, you’ve probably watched something that Jo Firestone worked on. As an actress on High Maintenance, Shrill, and Search Party; writer for the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and Adult Swim’s critically acclaimed Joe Pera Talks with You; and a stand-up teacher to seniors in her Peacock comedy docu-special Good Timing, she has gained thousands of fans with her reserved oddball persona.
On Instagram, Loaf — the rescue dog who she and her boyfriend, fellow comedian Mike DiCenzo, share — often steals the show, whether it’s in a carousel that documents his many moods or a video of him reacting to the auto-tuned song they composed for him. Below, we talk to Firestone about how pet parenthood fits into the life of a performer.
First things first, how did you settle on the name Loaf?
When we first met him, we talked about how his body was shaped like a loaf of bread, and from there the name just kinda stuck. I feel kinda bad — we almost never call him Loaf anymore. It’s either Load or Loadie or Mr. Muffin or...Dog World?! I don’t know what to say — that dog inspires a lot of weird nicknames.
How did Loaf come into your life?
I’ve had Loaf since October of 2019. We were hoping to adopt a dog and kept going to Sean Casey Animal Rescue in Brooklyn to walk dogs to see if we connected with any of them. Then we went one Saturday afternoon and ran into Loaf getting back from a walk. We decided he was the one, but he still had to get neutered and all his shots.
So my boyfriend called every day until they said he was ready to be adopted. The day came, and my boyfriend raced over from work to get him. When my boyfriend (who was not a dog person at the time) asked the man who worked at the shelter if Loaf was a good dog, the man was like, “Umm...yes?” and that’s how we got Loaf.
Did you grow up with dogs? What was the most surprising thing about dog parenthood for you?
I grew up with dogs, but I didn’t realize how good we had it because we had a yard. Now I do not have a backyard, so it’s four walks every day. I guess it’s good for both of us. The most surprising thing about having a dog is how much you talk about his bowels.
What’s your routine with Loaf like?
He wakes me up, we go for a walk, play with his toys, and he eats breakfast and slurps up some water. Then we relax for a bit. He decides he wants to play some more and we play some more. Sometimes he gets a bone. He takes a nap. He barks at nothing. He goes back to sleep. He sniffs/licks my hand. We go for another walk a couple hours later.
He’s somehow moved up dinnertime to 3:30pm. I swear it used to be 7pm. But he kept getting excited a half hour earlier and over time, he eventually brought us up to 3:30pm. I’m embarrassed to say this. We go for an evening walk and a night time walk. After the nighttime walk, he runs around like a mad man and I have been spending this time trying to teach him to catch tennis balls in his mouth. After about 10 minutes of this high intensity training, we both agree to go to bed.
Is he just as energetic outside?
I would say he’s energetic outside and inside. His favorite part of going for walks is finding old french fries on the ground and meeting dogs, so if we happen to do either of those things on a walk, he’s in a great place.
Does Loaf come to your shows or travel with you when you’re shooting?
He has not and he never will because he barks at strangers. In the past he’s stayed home with my boyfriend when I’ve had to leave for an extended amount of time. We have traveled with him a bit for holidays and it’s been scarring for everyone, so we try to keep the Loaf travel to a minimum. He's a homebody for sure.
Now that you’re at home more, do you hang out with him all day or does he like his alone time?
He’s usually in the same room as me, mostly sleeping while I have to work. He has learned to perk up when I say “goodbye!” on Zooms calls — that’s the cue that we’re about to hang out.
Was there a pandemic adjustment period?
I’ve always had a strange schedule, so there wasn’t a whole lot of adjustment for us. That being said, the last three years are a blur, so it’s possible there was a huge adjustment I just blocked it out.
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Rachel Davies is a writer who has written for numerous publications including Vox, Wall Street Journal, and Architectural Digest and the parent of a beautiful Cocker Spaniel mix named Thea.