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Posted 11.23.20

Owning a Dog Prepared Harry Connick Jr. for Dad Life: 'It Teaches You to Take Care of Somebody Else'

By Dana Rose Falcone of People Magazine

Harry Connick Jr. grew up in a dog home - and most of those pups had the same name.

"We had lots of different dogs, poodles mostly," the actor and musician, 53, tells PEOPLE in this week's Sexiest Man Alive issue. "And then later in life, I got a German short-haired pointer, her name was Sammy. And then I got another dog that was a half Weimaraner, half poodle. Her name was Sammy, too. We just liked that name."

In 2017, Connick adopted Tuka after The Sato Project, which rescues dogs in Puerto Rico, appeared with her on his talk show Harry.

"They said, 'Why don't you take her home and foster her?' Kind of winking at me because I didn't realize that I wouldn't be able to foster her — I was going to fall in love with her and keep her, which I did," he recalls.
Being a long-time dog dad prepared Connick for parenthood with wife Jill Goodacre.

"I think it teaches you that it's not all about you," the Emmy winner says of raising dogs. "You got this little mouth to feed and you have to take care of them and wash them and love them, and it's consistent. It teaches you to take care of somebody else, another living creature. And then when you're a dad, obviously that's magnified infinitely but it's good practice."

Connick, Goodacre, 56, and their three daughters — Charlotte, 18, Sarah, 23, and Georgia, 24 — couldn't figure out Tuka's breed after they welcomed her into their home three years ago. They suspected Tuka was a border terrier, but to be sure "I had Tuka's breed sent to one of these genealogy places," Connick says. "We actually had a breed reveal party where everybody came around and guessed what they thought she was, but nobody was right."

"It turned out that she had no border terrier in her and she was like everything from golden retriever to Chihuahua. There were about 12 different breeds."

The three-time Grammy winner started an Instagram account for Tuka, which now boasts over 16,000 followers, after she hammed it up for the camera during a trip to Connick's native New Orleans as a pup.

"I brought her to Mardi Gras and I had pictures of her sitting on a piano and pictures of her with my dad," Connick remembers. "She loves being in front of the camera, that's for sure."

Connick would love it if Tuka had free range to sit on all of the furniture in his house, where miniature Shih Tzu Lucy and cat Billy Finn also live. "I love when Tuka comes up on the couch but Jill doesn't really like that as much," he says. "And I do whatever Jill tells me and that's why we have such a successful marriage for the last 30 years."