Property Brothers’ Jonathan Scott Loves Little Dogs
The smaller the dogs, the bigger the man
Chad and I were at a dinner party when one of my friends leaned over and confessed: "I find your husband uncomfortably good-looking." While I couldn’t help but agree, knowing whole-heartedly I scored in the life-mate department, her description has always stuck with me. Uncomfortably good-looking. A compliment, to be sure, but nonetheless a peculiar word choice to describe what I can only call that rugged brand of fishing-supplies-catalogue-model look.
While totally enamoured with Rad Chad, I’d be lying if my friend’s words didn’t pop into my head when there was a knock on the door and it was Jonathan Scott on the other side. Yes, uncomfortably good-looking. At 6-foot-5, a construction dude with—I couldn’t help but notice—fine taste in fabulous footwear (Italian, I think?), Jonathan makes up 50 percent of the hit series Property Brothers’ co-hosting team. Along with twin brother Drew, put simply, the brothers are gaining more attention than a hot real estate market, as their show tops the ratings on both the W Network and HGTV.
While Chad and I have been renovating a 1937 hofme in Deep Cove, a seaside Vancouver area neighbourhood that screams location, location, location, the process has been one big year-long headache, headache, headache. So when the property face-lift surgeon himself shows up, I immediately feel the tides of Deep Cove change for the better: a wave of good energy washing away the psychic remnants of burst pipes, blown budgets, and—the bane of my existence—a never-ending deck construction that created a leak in the ceiling beneath it. But as much as I wish Jonathan Scott were here to announce he’s abandoning the show in order to tackle my house instead, that’s not the case. Instead, over cups of green tea, we talk about this licensed contractor’s two general foremen. Or, make that, his two general foredogs, Gracie and Stewie. While not rumoured to be uncomfortably good-looking, they do seem uncomfortably well behaved, not to mention uncomfortably fortunate to have the dad they do.
MD: How many seasons has Property Brothers been on air?
JS: We finished our first season in Canada, which is still airing in the United States on HGTV. We just found out they’ve purchased all 26 episodes of season two, which is great. We’re about a month into filming season two.
MD: For those rare people who have yet to see the show, what’s the premise in a nutshell?
JS: We find people their absolute dream home. Then, we crush them and tell them they can’t afford it. So, we go out and find fixer-uppers that they can afford. And I show them computerized 3D renderings of what it could look like if we were to renovate. The technology I use is by Neezo Renders. It’s the same technology used in blockbuster films. We can actually show walls coming down, new walls going up, and furniture going in. So that they can see what the potential is. Then, they pick one of the two homes we’ve selected for them and we get at it. Most of the projects take between 4 to 6 weeks to do the entire house. A larger scale renovation can come in at about 10 weeks. These are real families with real budgets, so the show captures that real emotion. I have three crews working at a time. And by the way, I work three times as many hours as Drew does. When I’m on set, he’s off at the spa.
MD: What’s the best part about working with your identical twin?
JS: We know what each other is thinking before we have to say anything. We step into a home and we both just know.
MD: You’re clearly a construction guy, and yet you have these two wee dogs, Gracie and Stewie. What is it about them that makes them so endearing to you?
JS: I grew up on a ranch. We always had big dogs. Labs and even a 200-pound Rottie. However, with my lifestyle, you need to have a dog you can take with you. So my first dog was a Yorkie. His name was Gizmo and he was only 2.5 lbs. Unfortunately, he was fragile, and he passed away. But, before he died, he totally opened me up to small dogs. He was one of the smartest dogs I’ve ever met. Shortly after Gizmo, I got Gracie. I like having two dogs, it lets them bond. Then, I got Stewie. I brought Gracie with me to check out our options, and she wouldn’t socialize with anyone but Stewie. They were instantly inseparable.
MD: And you’ve managed to incorporate them into your life, even in the face of juggling multiple properties, a hit series, and a brokerage company?
JS: Totally. And people who assume it’s hard, … I just don’t get that. It takes a bit of planning, that’s all. They travel everywhere with me. The logistics are pretty easy. They are so small and so well behaved. They have their little crates and I bring them to the set with me. I crate trained them so I can replicate that feeling for them if they ever go stay with somewhere new. I have the same set-up wherever we go. No matter where we are, I just say "bed time" and they go right to beds. They stay with me in Vegas for the winter, from about December to February. Oh, and the dog parks in Vegas are unlike anything you’ve seen. They’ve divided them into large-breed parks and small-breed parks. And there is always a third area that is not being used, so they can regenerate the grass. They have these fake fire hydrants out for the dogs. And great seating. I literally go every day when I’m in Vegas. The canine social scene in that city is great. The dogs come with me to Canada when we’re filming. Production for the show put us up in a house, because I need a yard for them. The first time they saw snow, in Toronto, they thought I was punishing them. They even offered us penthouse suites downtown, but we needed to consider Gracie and Stewie. I always say they are my monkeys. My hounds. My beasts.
MD: What’s one small-dog myth you can bust?
JS: The one thing that’s a myth is that they’re yappy. Mine don’t yap at all. They only do when I come home. Gracie does this banshee thing… it’s like this scream. They’re both very social. And totally laid back. I call Gracie my little pothead, because she just sits back and takes it all in. For all those guys out there trying to be macho, I can honestly tell them, I have more women at the dog park come up and talk to me! Sure, I love all dogs, but at the end of the night, I will come home and the three of us will watch a movie together on the couch. And Drew loves them too. He comes and takes them out all the time. He’s like the cool uncle.
MD: What’s the best tip you have for someone getting into the market as a first-time buyer?
JS: Don’t get in over your head. It’s very easy to say "Oh well, what’s an additional 30 or 50 grand?" But don’t do it. It’s all about the numbers. And consider something that has a rental suite potential. That can be a great way to subsidize the cost of home ownership. Some people say the hardest part of purchasing is coming up with the down payment, but think about it and maybe talk to your family. Approach it as a joint investment. Don’t be afraid to ask.
MD: There’s a feeling out there that you can either be a house person or a dog person, but not both. How do you ensure your own home is aesthetically pleasing, but also dog friendly?
JS: I always ask people who don’t have dogs what it is they’re afraid of. They usually say things like: soiling in the home or chewing or barking too much. Then I tell them, great. Just train them not to do those things, and you’ll be fine. I don’t allow my dogs free reign through the entire home. Dogs are present-moment focused, so you have to catch them in the moment engaging in the inappropriate behaviour and correct it then. You need to be the one in control in your home. If your dog feels like they’re in control, that’s a problem. I don’t use violence or choke chains. It’s a matter of being consistent and diligent. It’s our own laziness that makes them lazy.
MD: If there’s a woman out there reading this article who may have a boyfriend or a husband who’s embarrassed to be seen with little dogs, what can you tell her she should say to him?
JS: He needs to think of it as perception of ratio. The smaller the dog, the bigger you look. Sure, there’s a double-take moment when people initially see you. Then, they smile and giggle a little. But my experience has been that women feel like they can trust a guy with little dogs. It’s nice to see something a little out of the norm. I’m 6-foot-5 and they are my kids.