Local dog lover, and dynamic anchor of “The Tommy Show” lights up the District airwaves mornings on 94.7 Fresh FM.
By Joseph Grammer
Photo by Carina Thornton
Tommy McFLY is a DC media phenomenon. On weekday mornings from 6-10 a.m., he hosts “The Tommy Show,” a highly popular radio roundtable on 94.7 Fresh FM, along with his cohosts and friends Kelly Collis and Jen Richer. He pops up frequently on WUSA 9’s TV screens, covering celebrity events and the nation’s latest trends, but with an emphasis on local buzz. He is also a staunch supporter of canine rescue organizations—not to mention a motivated and loving dog parent. NOVADog Magazine stopped in at the 94.7 Fresh studio to catch up with Tommy and his beloved pups, Chip McFly and Mr. Troy.
NOVADOG MAGAZINE: When and where did you adopt your dogs?
TOMMY MCFLY: Chip is eight now. I got him from the Washington Humane Society after he’d been rescued as a five-month-old from behind a Whole Foods on P Street. I met him through Fashion for Paws. Our eyes met, and it was love at first sight.
Troy we got from New Rattitude in Richmond three-and-a-half years ago. I met him around the same time I met my partner Chrys, which means my now-fiancée got a Tommy, a Chip, and a Mr. Troy all at once. He’s great because he could handle that.
ND: What are their personalities like?
TM: Chip thinks he’s a German Shepherd, because my parents have six, and he spends some time at their place. He really thinks he’s a big dog, even though he’s this short (but sweet) mutt. He’s not the hardest worker, either. After his rough start, he decided he was retired. Now he just enjoys life. He’ll run outside for a minute or two, then be like, “I’m done.” You have to take treats along wherever he goes.
I’m a total softie now with dog training. When I adopted Chip, I planned on taking him to agility training, but he pretty much told me, “No, I’m not going to do that.” It’s like when your father is a football player, and you are, too, but your kid is like, “I want to do art.” Chip is like that.
Sometimes I think of him as “Kung-Fu Panda.” He’s all roly-poly and cute, but he still has a five-foot vertical. Let’s just say the counters at home are bare because of him. I really don’t know what happens when I’m gone, but I want to get a camera one day to tape him. Honestly, I think he works in tandem with Mr. Troy, like Batman and Robin. Although Chip doesn’t really see Troy as a sibling or friend as much as his own pet. When we first got Troy, Chip acted like, “Oh, you got me a dog!”
Troy is even smaller than Chip is, but he thinks he’s a person. Or maybe a parrot, since he’ll just sit on your shoulder if you let him. He’s got that little dog complex—he just wants to be part of the conversation, so he’ll try and get your attention. In fact, he has a few different noises he makes. One of them is this Wookie growl, which he’ll do randomly. I don’t know if it’s a stress thing or what, but he’ll just go “aahhhh.” I’m still figuring it out.
Chrys first started calling him “Mr.” Troy, just because he looks so dapper, and because his manners are really pretty good. However, he is great at concealing his tracks. If something in the house gets broken, he’ll be on the other side of the room, looking like “I didn’t do anything.” I always say Troy is either not too bright or he’s a supervillain, because he’s so good at seeming innocent. Also, he has a lot of energy. When I take him to the dog park, he’ll play for hours and hours without stopping. Sometimes I’m afraid to let him off-leash, which is funny, because he’s also a graduate of the Olde Towne School for Dogs. He knows commands and things like that. Chrys really wanted him to be trained. He found the place, and he was like, “It’s the best training! Barney and Bo went there!” Well, Troy went to school, and passed, but he doesn’t exactly “use his degree.”
Chip is also a Nats fan, but Troy roots for the Orioles. It’s a big thing on game day.
ND: How do you fit your dogs into your hectic schedule?
TM: Chrys and the dogs are the center spokes of my life. Chip has been around way longer than this job, and the last job, too. Mr. Troy is extremely important as well.
I’ve had a dog since before I could talk. When I moved to DC, I didn’t have a dog for the first time ever, and it was terrible. Then I got Chip, so he’s really been there for me since I was 21. He kept me grounded. DC was a bit scary at first: there’s a lot going on, it can be hard to make friends, but Chip was a constant through all that. So I definitely make time for them both.
On an average workday, I get up at 3:45 a.m. I get ready for work, see the dogs for a bit, but then I’m out the door before 5. The dogs, meanwhile, get to go back to bed and relax. I’m just like, “Cool, guys, thanks—have a great day.”
I do the show, then I come home for the first time around noon, 1 p.m. The dogs and I will go for a walk, then maybe I’ll nap, or go to meetings if I have them. A lot of times I’ll be writing TV stories, planning pieces. I’ll be back home the second time by 4, and then I get to hang out with the dogs again. (Although sometimes there’s another event in the evening.)
Tuesdays and Thursdays, though, Meg helps so much. She’s Chip and Mr. Troy’s nanny, from Fetch! Pet Care. I know she’ll come to the house and take care of them, make sure they go for a walk. Since I’m on the go all the time, it makes that piece so much easier. At 11, 11:30 a.m. she’ll send me a long text telling me everything that happened. I trust her completely.
ND: Since Chip and Mr. Troy are Internet celebrities, do you have any dos and don’ts for people putting dogs on Facebook or Twitter? Any stories you’d like to share?
TM: My dad’s a cop, so I learned from that. I don’t post locational stuff by our home, for example. I’m not like, “Hey we’re at 6th Street right now!” People can share their dogs like they share their children. Let us see funny stories or pictures of them looking cute, just like you would with kids. People always want to see cute dogs. I like to share stories about when Chip and Mr. Troy are being little devils.
Both dogs do have their own hashtags: #ChipMcFly and #MrTroy. Chip is smart—he knows by now that the cellphone is going to mean a picture, and he doesn’t work for free. He wants a treat every time I post something. But he’s also really good at keeping me off technology. He’ll slap my hand when I’m on the phone. He hates texting, and computers in general. He just wants you to pay attention to him. Literally, if you’re holding the phone and sitting, he’ll whack it away. It’s not mean, it’s just, “Hey, I’m here, I’m here.”
Chip has definitely met a few members of Congress at different events. I have to believe Chip and Gerry Connolly know each other. But you know, he’s famous in his own right. He’s like, “People want to meet me.”
As for stories, Chip was overweight for a while, after I adopted him. He actually ended up on my friend Dr. Katy’s TV show and did the Freshpet FreshFit Challenge to get healthy. She’s amazing for many reasons, including that, and we’ve been friends for a long time. But even though Chip lost his weight, he’ll never pass up a meal. He ate my old roommate’s face cream once, which made his insides like a Slip N’ Slide for awhile. (Luckily it was organic.) Someone else sent me chocolate in a box, like a heavily packaged cardboard box, and Chip just tore it to shreds. He reminded me of the velociraptor from that scene in Jurassic Park where they’re lifting up the goat. At that point I texted Dr. Katy, and she was just like, “How?” All I could say was, “I really don’t know.”
Then there was the time Chrys brought home this nice loaf of raisin bread. He was a new dog owner, he didn’t know raisins were bad for dogs. And I didn’t know the bread he’d gotten had raisins in it. Basically, we left the bread out on the counter, and Chip and Mr. Troy got into it. Well, pretty soon we figure out they’ve eaten it, I find out there’s raisins involved, then I’m texting Dr. Katy. We’re frantically trying to figure out the ratio of raisins to bread to see how sick they might get. It was a mess. I ended up inducing vomiting in the dogs under Dr. Katy’s orders. That loaf ended up costing about $500, since both pups had to get tests and bloodwork.
We do a lot of Googling now to find out what’s OK for the dogs to eat. Normally now whenever I Google “Does x food … ” the search bar automatically suggests “ … kill my dog?”
ND: What was it like growing up with dogs?
TM: I had my first German Shepherd before I could talk. My mom was the same way. In fact, she was that kid who brought home stray dogs when she was little. My grandmother was cool with it, luckily. At one point she had three or four dogs that she just found. So we’ve always been a dog family. Dad also had German Shepherds, but my mom usually had smaller dogs. My first Shepherd I remember was named Taboo.
We did pretty extensive dog training when I was growing up in Pennsylvania. At age 13 I was the youngest person to certify a German Shepherd in obedience and agility. His name was Luther, he was adopted. We got him from a guy who specifically bred police dogs. We were in the dog training culture for a while, and it was a really cool group who bred responsibly—they all loved dogs. They trained K9 dogs, too, so after hanging out with them, I certified my dog to a police level, except for bite protection and attack training stuff.
Those Shepherds were so structured in the way they behaved. We adopted this one dog Brandy from a couple we knew, she was the same way. We bred her responsibly with another dog, then eventually we had a pack: six German Shepherds. So I’m comfortable with any dog. Although I have to say during rainstorms, 24 muddy paws is the worst thing ever.
ND: If you could take your dogs on vacation to anywhere in the world and do anything, where would you go and what would you do?
TM: I’d love to go to a National Park with them. Someplace safe where we can run around and just hang. Chip would want a spa next door, though. He’d probably prefer to go glamping (“glamorous camping”).
ND:: Who else helps out with Chip and Mr. Troy?
TM: There’s a lot of planning that goes into the week in terms of care for them. Fetch! Pet Care is awesome, I can always call Megan if something comes up at work, she can probably swing by. I have friends down the street who help out, too. (If you’re a dog person in NOVA or DC, you probably have a lot of friends without dogs who will just love to watch your dog. I take them up on that offer.) My assistant Andy will help if I need it, too, he’s amazing.
A big example is that my grandma passed away a few weeks ago. Chrys and I were at dinner when we found out. My cousin from Wisconsin was in town, and she just said, “You guys go to the funeral.” She and Andy jumped into action the next morning, and they stayed most of the weekend to help with the dogs. Things like that show how great a group is.
It’s also testament to how cool the dogs are that they can just let someone new come into the house and feed them, and they’re like, “Okay, whatever.”
On the show, we easily have half a dozen dogs, among all of us. Kelly has two: Louis (named after Louis C.K.), a nine-year-old Lab, and Lola, a Havanese. Then Jen has two rescues, Mr. Grant and Bruce, two Black Labs from Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation.
We should definitely all have a big dog party one day. Chip knows Louis well, because when I lived uptown, Kelly and I were neighbors. That’s how we met and became best friends. We do all watch each other’s dogs, especially in emergencies. We pitch in together.
ND: What’s most rewarding about being a dog parent?
TM: I did the math on Chip’s birthday wrong this year. I thought he was turning nine, but then I realized he was only going to be eight. Chrys was like, “Wait, why is that important?” So I asked, “How long do you think dogs live?” and he was like, “I don’t know: 20 years?”
I had to break it to him then. Needless to say, we spent the rest of the evening on the couch hugging Chip. It ended up being a special moment.
Having two dogs together is rewarding, too. I firmly believe having two dogs is easier than one. Six would a little more time-consuming, probably, but with two, I feel way more relaxed knowing they’re together. They’re not lonely, they can hang out. I’d definitely never leave out getting more dogs, but I think I’d need a bigger place.
It’s easier now that they’re older. They’re pretty good travel-wise. Chip stopped throwing up in the car at age three; he used to need this anti-nausea medicine, or he’d have to travel in a crate. Then Troy would whine and cry the whole time in the car. He had his doggy car seat, and I was like, “What’s the problem? I would ride in one of those.”
In general, when dogs hit age three, I feel like they become really cool. Puppy time is always crazy, but when Mr. Troy grew up, for instance, he became this shotgun-riding, handle-anything cool guy. Except when I take him to the vet.
Tommy McFLY is the host of “The Tommy Show” on 94.7 Fresh FM, as well as a WUSA 9 TV personality. Tune in weekday mornings until 10 a.m., or follow him @TommyMcFLY. His dogs’ hashtags are #ChipMcFly and #MrTroy.
Joseph Grammer is Managing Editor for NOVADog Magazine. He lives in Alexandria, VA, but grew up in New Jersey with a bunch of adopted dogs, including a mutt (Blizzard) who he found on the street.