AMANDA Seyfried would be the first to admit that she owes a great deal – her life balance, her wellbeing, even her mental health – to animals.
It helps, she says, that she has moved on from her “traumatic” 20s and is now a mature and thoughtful 33.
“I think the things you care about in your 20s are the things you should care about then just so that you can get over them!
All that insecurity that I used to have about, ‘What are they going to think of me? What if they think I’m dumb? What if they think I’m ugly?’“All that sh*t doesn’t actually end up mattering but I think you do have to go through it in order to get past it. Then, when you get into your 30s – especially if you have a kid – the things you care about are the more important things, like how you impact the Earth, your friends, your family. It comes down to, simply, ‘Are you a nice person? Are you kind?’
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“All I’m striving for now is to be the best version of myself because that’s what the people around me deserve. It’s what my partner deserves. It’s what my family deserves and it’s certainly what my daughter deserves.The star says she has moved on from her "traumatic" 20s (Image: GETTY)
“I want to be my best self for her. I want to be patient with her and most of all I want to be present for her. Because I’m living for someone else now as well as for myself. That’s even more important than ever.”Part of that, Amanda says, is uprooting her home from the madness of LA to a farm in a rural part of upstate New York.
“It’s an animal farm, really,” she says, smiling broadly as she thinks of the rustic sprawl in the Hudson Valley that she shares with her husband, fellow actor Thomas Sadoski and their two‑year-old daughter, Nina.
“We do have crops, and we have eggs from the chickens. But we have goats and we don’t make goat’s milk. Our goats are just our friends.
“We have a donkey – he’s a rescue, who was abused and had bad legs but he’s had a year of feeling safe now, so he’s fine – and a pony and too many horses and five goats and seven chickens, plus a cat, a bad-ass cat who we lock in at night because it’s still scary out there even for a bad-ass.
Amanda with Finn, her brown nine-year-old Australian shepherd (Image: Mediapunch/REX/Shutterstock)
Stay consistent with training, play time and rest time for your pets so they don’t get too overwhelmed. Your calm and consistent demeanor will help your pet to understand that they can trust you. Once you earn their trust, understand the schedule, and feel secure in their safe place, both of your lives will be much easier.
“Let’s see… there’s a local bear. Oh, and we just got a tortoise. And we’re getting bunnies too. Because we have a lot of land – we have like 27 or 28 acres.“And we have an amazing caretaker so we can easily bring some smaller animals in. And if you can do it, you should.” It’s a couple of years now since Amanda and Thomas moved on to their farm.
And while she’s every bit as much in love with her work as she has ever been, she says that now she feels like a proper country girl. “My daughter’s enrolled in the local elementary school, which is a big move,” she says.
“And I just got my New York driver’s licence which means I’m officially no longer a California resident, so I’m thinking, ‘Oh, my God, I am living full-time on a farm!’ It was not something I ever expected, but I love it so much. I’m just a calmer person when I’m there. I can go off to do work, or do some photoshoots and be glamorous in Prague or somewhere, and then I fly back to JFK Airport, climb into the car, drive those two‑and-a-half hours back to the farm, and it’s like, ‘Aah, I’m normal again.’
INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: Having a dog in the house means more bacteria enters the home and gets inside the occupants (one study found “dog-related biodiversity” is especially high on pillowcases.) In turn, people with dogs seem to get ill less frequently and less severely than people with no pets.
“I just get to hang out with my daughter and my husband and have a quiet time with the animals.”Amanda, Thomas, Nina and Finn stroll around New York city (Image: GC)Hanging out with Nina involves them creating their own little magical world. “She loves dragons and monsters, she thinks they’re her friends,” she says.
“So in our world they hang out together and they make fires.”And Amanda’s not above using those stories to help with the problems of parenting – like pretending to be best buddies with Peppa Pig, for example.
“Sometimes, if Nina doesn’t want to brush her teeth, I’ll tell her a story about Peppa Pig, that she wanted me to tell her about brushing her teeth. I’m lying! But they’ve got to brush their teeth, right?”
She’s thrilled that Nina and her beloved pet Finn have become great friends. “Although if he’s in a mood and she goes near him in certain ways that he’s not cool with, he’ll growl a little and that’s great because she understands that’s a warning. But other times she’ll just lie on him and he’ll be absolutely fine.Amanda's rescue donkey has had a year of feeling safe and love with the Seyfrieds (Image: Instagram / Amanda Seyfried)
“And he’s started to sleep in front of her door at night. He used to sleep with me, but these days he just sleeps with us for a half-hour and then goes to her door. He’s protecting her, which is very cool to watch.”
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Given her love of animals in general and dogs in particular, she’s thrilled to have one as co-star in her latest film, out this weekend.The Art of Racing in the Rain, based on the 2008 novel by Garth Stein, is narrated by a dog, Enzo (voiced in the film by Kevin Costner), who wants to come back as a human being.
“Dogs are so special,” she says, “because they don’t need a lot of things. They don’t need the things that are sometimes complicated to give to other human beings.
"They don’t need validation, they don’t get jealous, and because they don’t need these things they don’t judge us because they don’t have the ego.
“I’m glad my daughter’s growing up with a dog – I want her to have that in her life.”Amanda's goats aren't used for making milk - she says they're just friends (Image: Instagram / Amanda Seyfried)