Bill Farmer knows a lot about Disney's dogs. For more than 30 years, he's been the official voice of both Goofy and Pluto, so for an entire generation, he has been the one true voice of those classic animated characters.
On Friday May 15, Bill Farmer's experience working with Disney and dogs will extend beyond those of the animated variety and enter the real world when he hosts the new Disney+ series, It’s A Dog’s Life with Bill Farmer. The series will see Farmer traveling around the country meeting a variety of real dogs that do a variety of real jobs. Some, like sheep herding, you might expect. Others, like searching the oceans for whale poop, you might not.
I had the opportunity to speak with Bill Farmer last week ahead of the Disney+ launch of the new show, and as the voice of Disney's two most famous dogs, I had to ask him his thoughts on one of the oldest questions in Disney history. How is it that Goofy can speak, and Pluto can not, when both are, from all outward appearances, dogs. It turns out, that, in point of fact, that isn't actually true. As Bill Farmer explained...
The official position is that Goofy is not a dog, but Pluto is. Now then, that asks ‘What is Goofy?’ And my best explanation: He’s like, a wolf is not a dog, but it’s dog-like. So, maybe Goofy is a separate species, 'canus goofus', or something like that. And so, he’s closely related to the dog family, but not quite.
Before he was Goofy, the character was known as Dippy Dawg, and so, it was clear that Goofy was supposed to be a dog in the same way that Mickey was a mouse and Donald was a duck, and yet, it seems that's not really the case. Instead, Pluto is a dog, and Goofy is something else. It seems that there's no official word on what Goofy is, if not a dog, but Bill Farmer has his own theory, which I suppose makes sense. Goofy is related to dogs, perhaps in the same way humans are related to apes.
While Bill Farmer's focus for the last three decades has been animated dogs, or animated dog adjacent, his new Disney+ series It's A Dog's Life with Bill Farmer will send the accomplished voice actor into the real world to meet real dogs. We've got an exclusive first look at the first episode, that sees Bill travel to the pacific northwest, where he meets a dog tasked with locating killer whale pop in the ocean. No, I really wasn't kidding about that. Check it out.
It's certainly a unique job for anybody, not just a dog, but Bill Farmer told me Eba, the dog on the hunt for killer whale poop was his favorite dog of all those he met during filming the season.
D23, the Disney Fan Club will be hosting a special watch party to go along with the premiere episode of It's a Dog's Life. It will take place on May 15 at 4PM Pacific/7PM Eastern and can be viewed on YouTube, Facebook, or the D23 website. In addition to Bill Farmer, the watch party stream will include co-producer, Jenn Farmer, voice of Mickey Mouse Bret Iwan, and Yvette Nicole Brown, who will host the event. The guests will also bring their dogs of course.
While It's a Dog's Life has a pretty clear connection to traditional Disney, it's a simple show that could actually be seen on any streaming service or cable channel, showing a slight broadening in the sort of content that we're getting on Disney+. Any dog lover will almost certainly love this show, even if they're not serious Disney fans.
It's a Dog's Life with Bill Farmer debuts on Disney+ May 15, with new episodes arriving every Friday.