Elina Golde is a ballet dancer, actress, and model currently living on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. She was the first Finnish ballerina to join the world-famous American Ballet Theatre. In 2016, she appeared in the short film for fashion label Rag & Bone, “Why Can’t We Get Along,” along with Kate Mara and Ansel Elgort. When she’s not onstage or in front of the camera, she’s cuddling with her Yorkie-Poodle mix, Sofie.
Let’s start at the beginning. Did you have a childhood with pets in Finland?
Yes, we had a poodle in our family when I was growing up. After that, I always knew I would want to have my own dog one day!
“My husband always jokes that Sofie and I are so alike: small, cute and diva-like sometimes!”
How did Sofie come into your life, and how did you know she was The One?
I had been talking to my then-boyfriend now-husband about wanting to get a dog for a long time. After we got engaged, I insisted we would go look at puppies. We wanted to look at a small poodle mix breeds, preferably with light-colored fur. When we got to the store, one pup immediately caught our attention by having a very special personality. She was the only black pup in the crate, and she was eagerly trying to get our attention and laid on her back asking for belly rubs. When we picked her up, she wouldn’t stop giving us kisses. We knew right there and then that we had a special bond with her, so we went with a black pup instead—and she is the cutest!
Does your husband share a love for dogs, and how is Sofie with him?
Yes, he does. Sofie is his first dog, though. He fell in love with her right away, and told me that he never imagined having a dog would be so amazing.
Tell us about your usual routine with Sofie.
I spend time with Sofie before I leave because my husband leaves earlier. During the day, she is normally home by herself. During the week, she gets short walks around the block, but on the weekends we try to go to the park and spend more time with her outside. She is a little diva though—she resists walking when it’s raining or too cold so on days like that, she stays at home. She is house trained so we don’t have to worry about her getting outside all the time.
My schedule is very different every day. Normally, I take ballet class at Steps on Broadway in the morning. Then, if I’m working on a project, I’ll rehearse in the afternoon or at night. When I was [performing in] the Lappeenranta Ballet Gala in Finland, I would rehearse right after class. From 1 to 3 PM, I would have rehearsal. After dancing, I would focus on acting. I normally have a few auditions per week. I work on my scripts in the afternoon. If I have events to go, like Finnish Consulate events, acting networking events, shows, and plans with friends, I do that at night. And then I spend time with Sofie when I get home.
People have the silliest nicknames for or manners of speaking to their dog (like talking to their dog like a baby). Care to share some of yours?
Sofie has a lot of nicknames! Sofitos, Sweetie Pie, Lovie, Sweet pea, Love Bug, Hot Dog (like not the food, but actually because she is “hot”) just to name a few!
What do you feed Sofie?
She loves Stella & Chewy’s!
A lot of dog owners identify with their dogs in some way. The joke is that when they talk about their dogs, they actually mean themselves. Do you identify with your dog or think of her as your child?
Oh yeah, for sure! She is our little baby!
I guess it’s true that dog owners identify with their dogs… We are definitely similar in some ways. My husband always jokes that Sofie and I are so alike: small, cute and diva-like sometimes!
Sofie is an expert traveler with you. Do you have any travel tips? And where has Sofie been?
Sofie comes with me often when I go home [to Finland] and she really enjoys the forest. She has been to Finland, Russia, California, Florida and a few cities around the States.
I don’t really have any tips, since she can still be a brat sometimes. On the plane, she wants to be on my lap for the whole time—otherwise, she keeps making noises when I try to make her sit under the seat.
How has your life changed since leaving the full-time world of ballet, and has it given you more time with Sofie?
Yes, definitely! She has become even more of a mommy’s girl and I feel like we are even more attached to each other. I really enjoy getting to spend more time with her and always feel bad when I have to leave her at home, but I think she is fine and is used to it!
Photography by Maggie McKenna