Meet Hammy and Olivia.
They’re two talking Corgis living in Las Vegas with their co-star and dog dad Chris.
Together, the trio put together daily skits to entertain their 4.7 million following across a range of social media platforms.
On Instagram, they’ve got over 600,000 Instagram followers and their hilarious videos have received nearly 65 million likes on TikTok.
However, Hammy and Olivia had a mere 800 followers on Instagram before the Corgi couple entertained the masses with their spoof videos during the pandemic.
We spoke to Chris to lean more about Hammy and Olivia, day-to-day life owning two charismatic Corgis as well as what it takes to create a successful social media account,
1) What first attracted you to the Corgi breed?
Their energy! Prior to Hammy and Olivia, English Bulldogs encompassed my dog life (I raised five of them). For 20 years, I assumed all dogs were conditioned to spend their entire day eating, sleeping and sunbathing. Walks were almost non-existent, and we would joke that their daily strolls from the living room to the kitchen were “exercise”. If you’ve been around Bulldogs, you know their value lies in how low maintenance they can be! So, when we got to see just how playful and spunky Corgis can be, we got excited by how much of our daily lives we could include them in!
2) How did you end up with Hammy and Olivia? Are they the first Corgis you’ve owned?
When Sarah and I first started dating, she was not shy when it came to letting me know how badly she wanted a Corgi. Our friend in Las Vegas breeds Corgis, so when he had a new litter of puppies, we were invited to go play with them. I should’ve known at the time that there was a zero percent chance that we weren’t going to leave with one that day (I applaud any boyfriends that have the willpower to say “no” in that situation). So, we brought Olivia home with us six years ago. With Sarah working nights and me having to travel out of state for work every week, we made it a goal to find Olivia a friend. Our hearts melted when we found Hammy (named “Winston” at the time) on a breeder’s website in North Carolina. Hammy completed our furry family 4 years ago and the rest is history!
3) For the uninitiated, how would you describe Hammy and Olivia’s personalities?
Corgis are very vocal and they’ll let their big personalities fill a home very quickly. Olivia is as sweet as they come and is a total “daddy’s girl”. She won’t sleep or nap unless she’s leaning against one of us (or a fluffy pillow) and she wears the hat of the “family guardian” – she’s the first to greet anyone at our front door. Hammy is a social butterfly that approaches every human he sees with a big smile on his face. He’s a sucker for a good round of tug-of-war and he only knows two speeds: (1) playing as hard as he can and (2) crashing as hard as he can afterwards. He’s also a total lush for mom (Sarah) and is the very definition of a “momma’s boy”.
4) What does an average day look like for Hammy and Olivia?
Our entire day is built around the pups. Hammy will wake me up at 6:30am every day by jumping on my belly and pawing my chest (his way of telling me it’s breakfast time). They’ll both get a nutritious meal around 7am and a walk immediately after to get an early dose of exercise. In Las Vegas, we have to be cognizant of the heat, so it’s important that the pups are walked before 8am. Afterwards, they’ll lick whatever spoons were used for my daily yogurt bowl and take their morning naps. When they wake up from their morning naps around 11am and see us walk into the closet, they know it’s time to shoot a video for the day. They get excited to get dressed up because they know it’s treat time! We’ll normally shoot content from 11:30am-1:30pm (with plenty of treats given). Afterwards, they’re rewarded with a fun play session, which normally results in an afternoon nap. They’ll eat dinner again around 6pm, get a sunset walk (if the temperature allows for it), and join us on the couch around 8pm to wind down as a family. Sarah always makes sure to practice training exercises with them before bed!
5) Do you think Corgis do better in pairs? What advice would you give to someone thinking about getting a second Corgi?
We love that the pups have each other! It’s so cute when we find them snuggling with each other or wrestling together. If you’re considering getting a second Corgi, there’s a good chance you already know what you’re dealing with (shedding, barking, their energy, etc), so be prepared for double time! I always think it’s important to mention that if you’re an avid traveler and need to leave your dogs behind, having a second dog adds a layer of difficulty to babysitters. Individuals might not be as inclined to watch two dogs for you as they would one (but that would be the case with any breed). That said, Corgis are very smart and observant. We often joke that Olivia had a hand (or paw) in raising Hammy. When we would try to train puppy Hammy on certain things, he would almost focus more on mirroring Olivia, which we found to be super adorable!
6) Why did you decide to start an Instagram account for Hammy and Olivia?
Prior to the Coronavirus pandemic, we were an incredibly active couple. Sarah was working regularly on the Las Vegas strip, and I was on an airplane twice/week to and from California for work. When we were quarantining in March of 2020, we had more time together as a family than we had ever experienced during the first seven years of our relationship. We wanted a creative outlet for ourselves that we could enjoy together, and creating an account for the pups seemed like the best way to share their shenanigans with others that might need a distraction from these wild circumstances.
7) How did you first come up with the idea to give Hammy and Olivia their own voices?
I think every dog owner at some point envisions what his/her dog might sound like if he/she could have a conversation with him/her. We’re no different. We started to really bring their voices/personalities to life while we were quarantining together. We saw Olivia as a modern-day Cher Horowitz (if there are any “Clueless” fans out there…), and we always saw derpy Hammy as a dog version of Patrick Star (from “Spongebob Squarepants”). Sarah and I would start to include Hammy and Olivia in family decisions and answer for them. “What should we get for dinner tonight Hammy? Hot dogs? Ok…but Olivia wants Thai.” Does that make us a little crazy? Maybe… but it’s a crazy we’ll gladly accept.
8) Can you explain some of the thought process behind the content you create? Do you brainstorm ideas and scenarios or do you tailor the dialogue around things that come up day by day?
Hammy and Olivia came to life during the rise of TikTok and short form video, so, for us, a piece of content coming full circle results in 15-20 seconds of entertainment. It might not seem like a lot of time, but each 15-20 second clip requires a ton of creative attention. Sarah and I treat each video as if we’re cooking a meal. We always start with a concept (i.e. “Hammy is a magician”). The most difficult part of the entire process is bringing the concept to life. What ingredients do we need to make this dish (i.e. a cape? Wand?)? What is Hammy’s magic trick? How will Olivia react to this? What visual effects do we need to come up with to add a layer of polish to the skit? What is the chronological order of each shot so that we can introduce an idea, add some humor, and tie it off in 15-20 seconds? Will the script be clear and concise? The quality of the dish we cook is only as good as the ingredients and execution. The creative preparation is (believe it or not), the most difficult part, and it doesn’t get any easier after 400+ videos. That said, filming the content and working with Hammy and Olivia gets easier and easier. They’re total professionals at this point and understand what they need to do after a couple practice rounds!
9) How long does it take to film, edit and add captions/voices to your content? Do you or your partner have a background in media seeing as you do such a good job?
Once the concept is baked and we have our shot chart (each raw piece of content we have to film) figured out, we pivot to production mode. Depending on a video’s complexity, production and post-production, a single piece of content can take anywhere from 3-5 hours. Sarah and I don’t have professional backgrounds in the creative world, but I’ve dabbled in a few aspects of entertainment (high school news show host, college radio host, television background extra, etc), so I understand a few elements of showmanship. The beauty of today’s suite of tools for content creators is they make content creation easier than it would have been 10 years ago. We can cut together a piece of content in an app, record our voiceovers/captions within that same app, and export directly to our phone’s library! Our creative “expertise” doesn’t have us jumping into expert platforms such as Adobe’s Premiere Pro, After Effects or Photoshop…yet.
10) How much work is involved in running such a successful Instagram account overall? Is it a full-time job and/or have you managed to turn it into a full-time job?
Running an online presence with an audience of 4.7M+ across Instagram, TikTok and YouTube certainly requires full-time attention. If we’re not creating content, we’re engaging with our communities on these platforms, responding to comments/direct messages, and handling meetings/phone calls pertaining to the business side of the brand. It’s also important to mention that social media doesn’t turn off on the weekends (if anything, it gets busier), so we treat this as a seven day/week profession. All of that said, neither Sarah nor I have abandoned our other careers. It’s stressful, but it’s a stress that we’re grateful for and a pressure we enjoy putting on ourselves to continue making the world smile.
11) What advice would you have for someone looking to create a social media presence for their dogs or pets?
Start with being authentically you. You don’t need to start by making “talking dog” skits. We’ve learned over time that we subconsciously choose to “follow” someone on social media because we can either (a) learn from them (b) be entertained by them (c) connect with them on a level we relate to or (d) escape to them (essentially forgetting about any personal troubles for a brief moment). Start by asking yourself which of these values you want to be to someone, and always use that as your North star whenever you get lost in creating your content. Another big piece of advice is to ask yourself “what is the key differentiator when it comes to my pet?” What makes you laugh and smile when it comes to Fido. I promise, there is a community out there that would laugh at it as well…it’s up to you to capture that moment and translate it into photo/video. Everyone should know that Hammy and Olivia don’t actually talk (we hope), but we pride ourselves on how we capture their personalities in each video (the “speaking” just makes it easier for us to share them).
12) Do Hammy and Olivia get recognised out and about in Las Vegas?
The past year has been a very strange time to build a following. With a lot of social restrictions in place, we didn’t bring the dogs out with us too often. They were noticed at the park and local dog meetups pretty frequently prior to the summer heat. Now, since we’re in the middle of a desert summer, they don’t venture to the park much. Oddly, I’ve been stopped quite a few times around the neighborhood now that the mask mandate has been lifted. People will ask “do you happen to own two Corgis?” and it continues to be a very strange experience! Once the heat settles down, we’ll be sure to take the corgis around to some dog-friendly areas in town, so if you see these two potatoes walking around, Las Vegas, be sure to say hi!
13) Can you share your funniest Hammy and Olivia story?
We have a neighborhood cat that has a really big crush on Hammy (and Hammy crushes on her too)! It is the one animal that Hammy doesn’t bark at, and they kiss each other on the nose every time they see each other. It started off as a rendezvous that would only happen on our walks, and now the cat, Chloe, comes to our house at night, sits on the fence, and waits for Hammy to come outside! It’s the most adorable thing in the world. If Olivia sees Chloe before Hammy, she’ll bark at her and shoo her away. It’s our pet version of Romeo/Juliet, and we crack up every time Hammy’s “girlfriend” comes to see him!
14) What is your favourite Instagram/TikTok post?
I’m a sucker for the dramatics, so when it comes time to shooting a dramatic piece of content, I pour my heart and soul into it. Out of 400+ videos, there are 10 that personally make me smile the most. When we first introduced “Super Hammy”, I knew that we created something special. I was also very fond of a video we produced where the family thinks we won the lottery (only to have the final number be read wrong). On the flip side, our most successful piece of content is when Hammy can’t seem to find his legs, so Dad confuses him for a sack of potatoes. When Sarah and I created that piece, we didn’t think much of it at the time, and it just goes to show you that sometimes the internet won’t agree with you (in a good way)!
15) If you could go back to when you first got Hammy and Olivia, what advice would you give yourself knowing what you know now?
As their fur father, I would have invested in a much better vacuum cleaner in the beginning! We have to vacuum our 2,000 sqft home 3x/week, so I often joke that we should open “Potato Floor Care” and vacuum Las Vegas’ homes! We also would’ve spent more time getting the pups enrichment activities that mentally challenge them. Corgis have a tendency to get bored quickly when it comes to just chewing, but we didn’t learn that until Hammy took out a few patches of carpet and some crown molding! As a content creator, I would have given myself the advice to start their accounts earlier. There is no better moment to start sharing your fur baby with an online community than when he/she is a puppy. Online communities want to feel like they got to grow up with your pups, and it’s a very special connection that becomes more challenging to attain as they’re older.