During the day, actress Simmone Jade Mackinnon battles the challenges of life on Drovers Run, which unfold in each episode of McLeod’s Daughters. At night, she’s a dog superhero, cuddles her beloved canine companions, Maha Kala and Mr Miyagi. Simmone Jade Mackinnon spoke to Caroline Zambrano about life with her dogs.
Dogs have always been a part of Australian actress Simmone Jade Mackinnons life and its no wonder that she has been named an RSPCA superhero for giving love, respect and support to all animals, as Dogs Life discovered during an exclusive interview with the actress.
Born in Mt Isa, SA, Mackinnon grew up while travelling with her parents all over the country in a caravan. My first memory was when we were finishing the trip and we ended in the outskirts of Sydney. At that time mum and dad had a Cocker Spaniel and then we picked up a Cattle Dog on the road, which is where my love of Cattle Dogs comes from, she said.
Mackinnon had a few Cattle Dogs in the past and now cares for Maha Kala, who is a typical Cattle Dog, she explained. Kala gets protective of me. Its a little embarrassing when people come over but she never bites. However, Kala acts quite differently with Mackinnons Hawaiian-born, model and actor fiance, Jason Momoa.
Kala is scared of him. Hes a big boy and has a very deep voice. Shes a real girlie dog around him, she said.
Before Mackinnon went into acting, she was a classically trained dancer, having toured with the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats before an injury forced her to consider acting. Her first major acting role came in 1998 in the Baywatch Down Under special, leading to an invitation to join the core cast on Baywatch.
Mackinnon was living in America with her fiance, Jason, when she heard about McLeods Daughters auditioning for a major female role. She moved back home in 2003, when she landed the role of Stevie Hall.
Rescue dog from USA
Even when she was living in the Californian city of Los Angeles, Mackinnon was not without a canine companion. She and Jason rescued a dog from death row Vajra Keila was scheduled to die the next day.
Jason called and asked, What would make you the happiest today? Mackinnon told Dogs Life. She had laughed because she thought he was going to take her horsebackriding. I said, You’re not thinking of going to look at dogs. They didn’t waste any time going to the animal shelter.
There were so many dogs there. Some young and old, some aggressive and some really submissive and scared, like our little one was, she said. She was a Labrador/Boxer/American Staffy cross she had a massive head. She was a one-off and brought us so much joy, Mackinnon said.
After almost a year of processing quarantine paperwork and passing healthchecks, Vajra finally arrived at her new home in Australia. She spent the best years of her life under Mackinnons loving care and sadly passed away mid last year. Vajras death hit Mackinnon pretty hard as she shared a very special bond with the dog, and she now focuses on caring for Maha Kala and Mr Miyagi, a gorgeous Pug which actually belongs to her housemate and brother, Robbie.
Kala is coping well with Vajras death. She entertains herself with sticks and bugs. Shes a bit of a loner, explained Mackinnon.
Kala accident prone
Besides sometimes being protective of Mackinnon when she has visitors, Kala also attracts all sorts of trouble including getting stung by bees! Shes always eating a bee. Ive taken her to the vet because her whole face puffs up, Mackinnon said. She was also hit by a car. She is accident-prone there’s always something going wrong. Something else going wrong is the disappearance of Mackinnons socks from her drawer! It seems Kala has a sock fetish that drives both Mackinnon and her brother crazy.
I have so many socks in this house. I mean, people lose socks anyway. Its one of the mysteries of the world. But with Kala, my brother and I get so frustrated because we go to look for a pair of socks in the drawer. (Having gone through the drawer first) Kala gets them and pulls them apart and Ill end up with 20 different socks in the lounge room, she said. She tosses them in the air and catches them again and shell ask us to throw them for her as well around the lounge. I should try to stop her. I have stuffed toys, but she pulls stuffing out of them whether it smells or not.
Besides the obsession with socks, Kala is generally well behaved and will roll over for anything to eat! Mackinnon has learned from her past experience raising Cattle Dogs, some of which gained too much weight and died from cancerous growths, and said she is now more careful with Kalas diet.
One of Kalas favourite meals is Mackinnons homemade chicken and veggie soup fit for all creatures great and small! The dogs are very spoilt this way in winter. I make a big pot and we all eat it, she said.
Spending quality time
Mackinnon spends quality time with her dogs on weekends, as it becomes difficult with her work schedule during the week. But whatever day it is, they get lots of love when shes home. They certainly get enough attention, but they could use more exercise for sure, Mackinnon admitted. At the moment, I can do that on weekends.
In fact, one of Kala and Mr Miyagis favourite weekend activities is to invade the nearby park and take a swim in the river. Kala always manages to get wet. Vajra used to be more sensible, she said. They love it 28 good acres. Its also a great walk for me.
At the end of the day, Kala and Mr Miyagi curl up in the bedrooms. Mr Miyagi sleeps on Robbies bed. Kala is on my floor, Mackinnon said. When Vaja was alive, Kala and Vajra didnt sleep in the same room because Vajra snored so loudly and she was a bed hog. If I move, Kala jumps off; she doesn’t like to be disturbed. Vaja was very happy on the bed.
Besides the snoring, Mackinnon had one other problem that would not allow her to enjoy the company of her dogs on the bed. This passionate, dog-loving, horseriding, country actress is believe it or not allergic to animals! Its so sad, but I just have to deal with it, she said with a sigh. She revealed that when she travels overseas and is away from dog dust and dander for a period of time, her asthma is under control.
As soon as I walk back into the house, because Ive been away for a couple weeks, I really notice it in the first couple of days back. That’s why when they are on the bed, I wake up in the mornings with swollen eyes I get dog hair or dust in my eyes, she said.
Simmones Bacon & Bone Soup (recipe for the whole family!)
- Bacon bones 3 pieces
- Vegetable soup mix 3 packets ** No onions **
- Ham hock 1 piece (optional)
In a big pot, boil three bacon bones for about six to seven hours until all the meat comes off. I like it really strong-flavoured and sometimes get a ham hock. Add the vegetables from the soup mix, which you can get from your local supermarket. No onions or salt! Pick the bones out and put the meat and vegetable mixture in the fridge. The next day take the layer of fat off from the top. Pour into a soup bowl or dog bowl and enjoy!
As an ambassador for the RPSCA, Mackinnon spoke to Dogs Life about her respect for the RSPCA and how being a Superhero gives her an opportunity to share her love and respect for animals with people all over Australia. RSPCA Communica tions Manager Jane Speechley told Dogs Life the RSPCA is delighted to have Simmone on board as one of their RSPCA Superheroes.
The work she has done with us so far has just been fantastic and she has been so generous with her time, said Speechley. The popularity of McLeods Daughters, plus Simmones own personal commitment to the welfare of animals, means she is able to play a great role in raising awareness of the RSPCAs work and contributing to better care of all animals.
Mackinnon takes her role with the RSPCA very seriously, Speechley added. She would never be content to be just a face for the organisation and someone that didnt really know about the issues. She makes sure she knows what the issues are and really makes an effort to get involved, she said.Here are just a few things that can make life with your dog a bit easier - see them now on our DOGSLife Directory