The email, subject line: "Interview Opportunity: Nick Lachey Talks Animal Instincts," landed in my inbox on a sunny Thursday at 12:03 p.m. I clicked immediately. The "Animal Instincts" in question actually had to do with...dog allergies? I forwarded the email to my editor at 12:05. It was an itch I just had to scratch.
It turns out, as the email explained, that the singer/producer/TV personality known for his soothing vocals on 98 Degrees' chart-topping hits of the '90s is adding a new slash to his bio: spokesman for a campaign to soothe dogs of allergy-related discomfort.
Yes, you read that right. Nick Lachey, your boy band dream crush of yore, is moonlighting as a Dog Whisperer.
Reader, if I was a canine, my tail would be wagging. I, like Nick, am the owner of a pup who just so happens to suffer from various itchy conditions. My dog's issues have gotten better over time (swapping his food to grain-free, at our vet's recommendation, seemed to help). But I've long been searching for the secret to get my 5-year-old golden to stop constantly rubbing his face (and back and paws) on the floor (and grass and dirt, and cement sidewalk).
Nick wasn't really able to help me there, except to tell me I should take the quiz on the website he's promoting. But he did shed some light on his pup Wookie's woes, the difference between being a dog parent and a dad, and why he thinks boy bands will always be big.
So when I saw the email about this, I was immediately interested because I have a dog who has itching problems, too.
“It’s amazing how many people out there have dogs who have gone through the same thing. It’s one of those things you don’t openly talk about all the time, but there are so many people dealing with the same issues.”
Well, yeah, I told my mom about this interview, and she reminded me that one of our childhood dogs also had a skin condition. Tell me about what you went through with your dog, Wookie?
“We first noticed this after he had stayed with friends. When we got him from their house, we thought he had just maybe gotten fleas from their dogs or something of that nature. It just never seemed to go away. We treated him with flea medication, nothing worked. It got to be so all-consuming for him; literally I’d be playing catch with him, and he’d stop to scratch and itch. It got so bad, honestly, that we had to put the cone on him, because he would not quit irritating his skin and scratching it to death. So we took him to the vet, and she said, ‘I think he’s got allergies.’ I had never even contemplated the fact that dogs could have allergies, so that was interesting to me in and of itself. The vet said, 'I’ll prescribe [anti-allergy medication] Apoquel and see how it works,' and it was a complete turnaround.”
A lot of dog owners have this problem, where we see something going on, but it’s not like your dog can tell you what’s wrong. So what can we do?
“You can go to YourAnimalInstinct.com and get some of those questions answered and self-diagnose. [Find out] is this something that will pass, or should I talk to a vet, should I get a professional opinion if this is something more serious? To your point, you can’t tell, you just know they’re miserable. Dogs are part of the family, and it's not good to see your family be miserable and in a bad place.”
You’ve said having a dog in some ways prepared you for parenting. How so?
“Clearly parenting a child and a dog are different things. Specifically for us, as a young couple, we had just moved in together and gotten Wookie together, and it’s not about you anymore. The basic responsibility of being a dog owner, it is like parenting in a sense. It did take us to a different place in our headspace. You have to think about someone other than yourself, and that’s a good lesson to learn, especially if you’re going to have kids someday. Because when you have kids, it’s definitely not about you anymore. [So], in a way, it definitely did prepare us for parenting.”
A lot of our parenting coverage is focused on not just parenting, but deciding if you want to be a parent, and, if so, when and how. Did you always know you wanted to be a parent? Or is it something you came to over time?
“Yeah. For me, my relationship with my parents was always a really good one, and I very much cherish those relationships, so I knew I wanted to have my own kids someday. That was something that, for me, was a no-brainer. Now, how many you have and how closely you have them together and all that, I didn’t necessarily see coming. But I always knew I wanted to be a dad. And even for someone who knew they wanted to be a parent, it’s pretty mind-blowing. Every day is a unique set of challenges, but it’s also a unique set of gratifications. The thrill of seeing them happy and thriving, there’s nothing like it.”
How does Wookie fit into the equation of your growing family? I know some people worry about their dog adjusting to the addition of kids.
“I think dogs kind of innately look to be nurturers and protectors of the kids. When we first brought our oldest, Camden, home from the hospital, someone had told us bring a towel or swaddle or something that has the baby’s scent on it, and let the dog sniff it before you bring the baby home. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but he’s been great with the kids. We just did the People magazine 'Beautiful Family' piece, and my son insisted that Wookie came with us to be in the picture. If he’s ever counting how many boys are in the room, he always includes Wookie in the boy count. The dog is a part of our family at this point, no question.”
I have to ask you about this Instagram about finding your wife's wedding band in the trash can, amid dirty diapers. What happened?
“First of all, I’m surprised the pickup that got, that little Instagram picture. She couldn’t find her wedding ring, and that happens from time to time. You check the kids’ rooms, maybe you took it off when you gave them a bath. We couldn’t find it anywhere, and she said, ‘I think it might be in the trash.’ She went off to work that day, and I said, 'Alright, just to kind of check that box off, I’ll go through the trash.' In my mind, I’m thinking, there’s no chance I’m finding this wedding ring in here. It’s just a complete goose chase. But I’ll be damned, I’m going through the bag that has our bathroom trash in it, and I couldn’t believe it, there it was.”
I'm glad you found it! I also wanted to ask you about the new Boy Band competition show on ABC. Have you seen it?
“I’ve seen a preview, I haven’t seen the show itself, but the one thing we know about boy bands is that they’re cyclical. There will always be young girls out there who fall in love with boy bands. When one goes out, it makes sense for another to come in, whether it’s a group from this show or another group that forms. One thing that I can say for sure is that there will be another boy band. There’s no question there.”
What about 98 Degrees? Any plans to do more touring?
“Yeah, we do! Because we’re having such a good time doing it still, we’re going to put together another project this year, and looking to do a tour later this year hopefully. As long as people still enjoy it, and we’re still enjoying doing it, we’re going to keep doing it. And we’ll see how it goes.”
This interview has been edited and condensed.
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