Attempting to Unravel RHOBH's Confusing Puppygate Controversy: Breaking Down the Accusations, Players and Timeline

Who's lying? Who's denying? We attempt to break down the biggest mystery Bravo viewers have watched play out in recent years

By Tierney Bricker Mar 16, 2019 10:00 AMTags

Kyle Richards jokingly asked this on Watch What Happens Live about The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' current season. But really, was she joking?

Since season nine of the Bravo reality hit kicked off, Puppygate has officially taken over the show, with a little dog named Lucy Lucy Apple Juicy unexpectedly becoming the HBIC of RHOBH.

While it seemingly started off as a simple misunderstanding between friends Lisa Vanderpump and Dorit Kemsley, it has now escalated, involving the rest of the cast, some of Vanderpump's employees, two new Johns, endless accusations and literal receipts being pulled out in almost every episode.

It's been hard to keep track of all of the drama, with each Housewife adamantly presenting their own version of the events that transpired since last summer, while also providing new information as each episode airs.

Puppygate has become the riveting mystery captivating the Bravo world...and also its most confusing, so we're attempting to break down all of the information we've been given so far. 

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The Main Players

Lisa Vanderpump: One of the original RHOBH cast members, LVP and her husband Ken Todd co-founded Vanderpump Dogs in 2016 as part of their ongoing mission to help rescue dogs in the U.S. and around the world. The couple had been close friends with Dorit and PK Kemsley for years before Dorit joined the cast in season seven. 

Dorit Kemsley: The Housewife who adopted Lucy, eventually giving her to because the dog bit her husband and had "bit the kids a few times," she explained to Erika in the premiere. "She was not the right fit for the family."

Teddi Mellencamp: After clashing with Dorit last season, Teddi was the Housewife that first found out about the dog situation from one of the Vanderpump Dogs employees, John Blizzard, 

John Sessa: The executive director of Vanderpump Dogs, Dr. Sessa (he has a Doctorate of Business Administration concentrating in International Business and Global Finance! The more you know!) is LVP's partner, not her employee. And he was the one to bring out Lucy during the scene that launched a thousand accusations in the premiere. 

"I'm pissed," he said when LVP told him not to talk about the situation. "Everybody here's pissed."

And Lisa later wrote in a blog, "He had a very strong opinion regarding Lucy and we had tried to placate him to no avail."

In an interview with "On the Rocks" radio show, Sessa confirmed his fury and the confrontation he had with Ken, specifically being asked to forgo the $5,000 penalty in the contract they signed for not returning the dog to VD. 

"He's saying, 'Protect my friend.' And I said, 'F--k you. I'm not protecting your friends,'" he said. "I'm protecting the foundation. I don't have loyalty to Dorit. I have loyalty to my foundation, and I have loyalty to my dogs."

He continued to defend his actions, saying, "I'm the mentor to all these young, budding philanthropists, saying, 'We have to be so strict with these things.' So how am I going to take my responsibility down and say, 'No, it's Dorit from Real Housewives, so we have to ignore all of our procedures.'"

Cue his now-infamous: "Does this dog look familiar?" line from the premiere. 

John Blizzard: Yes, there are two Johns involved, and while Sessa took the lead in the premiere when it came to the situation, Blizzard, the 23-year-old event planner for Vanderpump Dogs, is actually the one who spilled the tea to Teddi initially after the two struck up a friendship when Teddi was hosting charity cycling rides for the foundation. (A quick scroll through his social media proves he is friends with quite a few of the Bravolebrities.)

Also, he clearly knew he was in for it before the season began, judging from this cryptic post. 

The Woman Who Adopted Lucy: The woman who allegedly dropped Lucy Lucy off at the shelter after asking Dorit if she could take her has yet to be identified on the show or publicly since the season began airing. 

"When I alerted her to the fact that Lucy was in a shelter and asked if she could please give me the name of the woman who had taken Lucy, she asked to call me back – she wanted to be sure of the name," LVP wrote in her blog. "I don't believe she knew the name of the woman, but maybe her assistant did."

 According to Dorit on Twitter, she did in fact know the woman:

Lucy Lucy Apple Juicy: The dog at the center of it all, Lucy was originally adopted by the Kemsleys in February 2018 (renaming her Celine, BTW!) before they found a new home around six months later, around June or July.  While we've yet to get a full update on Lucy after her scene in the premiere, LVP offered an update in her blog.

"It's ironic and beggar's belief that not once has anyone enquired after the welfare of the puppy – the beloved puppy," she wrote. "How is she? Is she at the center? Well, she lived at the center and went home with one of our devoted employees for some time, and now she has found a loving home."

The Arguments

Teddi's Version of Events

In last night's episode, Teddi finally came clean about her role in the alleged hit put out on Dorit's character as orchestrated by LVP, explaining to Erika how she came to be roped into the plot.

Tommy Garcia/Bravo

Because there was "tension" between her and Dorit, Teddi said, "So I get the call from Vanderpump Dogs. They said, 'This thing happened with Dorit and the dog, can you believe it? It's crazy. Lisa wanted you to know.'"

This is where Teddi admitted to some initial wrongdoing: "I had a very dramatic response and I was kind of in it. Texting with them, being catty back, like, 'Alright, give me the deets,' not being the most above board human being."

Given her feelings toward Dorit at the time, Teddi claimed that LVP knew to feed her the information, and much like Lucy on PK's nose, "I bit." 

But here is where Teddi starts biting back, as she claimed that scene in Vanderpump Dogs did not go down the way it was supposed to. 

"Kyle and I get invited to Vanderpump Dogs. They wanted me to say it. I already know this going into Dogs… and I couldn't go through with it...telling everybody what Dorit did."

But in a blog Teddi posted to after last week's episode, she went onto claim LVP didn't stick to the script she had allegedly written herself.

"There were a lot of calls and texts as the Johns (Blizzard and Sessa) figured out the 'plan' with LVP and I waited for her instructions," Teddi wrote. "I knew things were not as they seemed that day at Vanderpump Dogs which explains my hesitation at bringing the dog up. Please rewatch John Sessa's reaction when LVP says 'stop.' That says it all. LVP was not playing to the scenario she had set forth."

Teddi then fully turned when she realized she was being set-up by LVP, becoming the Housewife's fall woman...except she wasn't going down without a fight. 

Lisa Vanderpump's Version of Events

After not blogging for quite some time, LVP returned to the Bravo blog game with a long, detailed post about the situation. 

Tommy Garcia/Bravo

"John Sessa was enraged. He came to our house, apoplectic, while Ken was emphatic that John would not disparage our friends and would never talk about this publicly in a negative way. John thought otherwise: he wanted accountability. John's anger superseded any compassion for the aftermath that might ensue. It was relentless," she wrote. "I recall stating emphatically in the heat of the argument, 'I don't care who says what, it's unimportant,' and that it was irrelevant who spoke about it and who said what. The important thing was to retrieve the puppy from the shelter ASAP."

It turned out to be important when Lisa and Ken discovered Blizzard had sent a "gossipy text" to Teddi. After learning this, LVP said she contacted Dorit to let her know the news was out. 

"I sent Dorit a text urging her to get in front this issue," she wrote. "I would have thought that would have included Dorit going down to the center and calming an already emotional young staff, reassuring them that her intentions, albeit careless, had no malintent."

While Teddi alleged the entire scene at Vanderpump Dogs was plotted ahead of time, LVP is saying she had no part in it.

"I did send John Sessa a text prior to arriving at the center to let it go and to not bring up the subject of Lucy as I knew they were fired up," she claimed, adding they were going to the center for grooming and Instagram opps for the ladies' dogs. 

After being accused of lying and setting the scene up, LVP doubled down.

"I rarely comment on the endless nastiness and accusations from castmates; however, anybody who lies and asserts that I was responsible for the filming schedule at Vanderpump Dogs needs to retract that."

Tommy Garcia/Bravo

Dorit's Version of Events

While John Sessa said the center only discovered the Kemsleys no longer had Lucy when the received the call from the shelter, Dorit said she told Lisa she had found a new home for the dog before giving her to the still-unidentified woman. 

"When the opportunity arose for Lucy to go to a beautiful home (which is ultimately the goal for rescue pets) rather than having to go back to the center and wait for someone to adopt her, we took it. It was never about hiding that from Lisa V as I told her immediately," she wrote in her blog. 

She continued to question her friend's handling of the entire situation, writing, "This brings me to the second part of what she said: 'You should've given the dog back to me.' Why didn't she tell me that she wanted me to bring Lucy back to the center and that it was a violation to re-home a dog when I spoke to her?" 

As for how Lucy ended up in the shelter, Dorit explained, "The woman who we sent Lucy home with had a family emergency and could no longer care for Lucy. She was assured that Lucy was going to another safe, loving home, but much to our dismay, apparently ended up in a shelter."

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LVP acknowledged talking to Dorit before she gave Lucy to the new owner in her own blog, writing, "I had spoken to Dorit a few days prior, and she explained to me that a woman had come to her house and fallen in love with Lucy, and that the little dog was apparently going to a new home 'for a much better life.' I said that it was impossible for us to ever give them another dog, to which she agreed. I wasn't angry with her, but I couldn't understand why she didn't return Lucy. I knew at some point a home check was necessary and a transfer of ownership would need to happen. But with Dorit being a close friend, she reassured me that the puppy was going to an excellent home so I didn't feel it was a matter of urgency. There was no mention of biting."

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John Blizzard's Take

In Tuesday's episode, we finally got to hear from the event planner at the eye of the storm himself, as LVP beckoned John Blizzard to Villa Rosa for a reckoning sitdown. 

After once again explaining that John Sessa and Ken were "going head to head" on how to handle the situation after they got the call from the shelter, LVP said she likely said something about not caring who knew about Dorit and the dog (which she wrote in her blog.) 

"Obviously, John has said something to you, to the effect of, ‘Lisa says it doesn't matter. Tell whoever!'" she theorized. "But then you implicate me."

Blizzard basically confirmed this account saying, "[Sessa] said, 'Lisa said it doesn't matter, tell whoever,'" Blizzard recalled.  "I put words in your mouth that were not true and I will own that and I'm sorry for that. I'm not proud of it."

As for why he was revealing his private text conversations with Teddi, whom he said he was friends with, Blizzard said, "She shouldn't have of brought up my texts!"

But Teddi took to Twitter to with some receipts about Blizzard saying LVP had no part in this:

Examining the Case Evidence

Exhibit A: Teddi's Texts

On the show, Teddi was the first to pull out the digital receipts, showing a cropped photo of a text convo she had with John Blizzard, which she said proved LVP had told him to tell her about Lucy.

After the episode aired, Teddi posted the uncropped version on her blog, including this exchange where Blizzard seemingly confirmed that LVP told him to tell Teddi.

But on Twitter, Blizzard addressed his all-caps response.

In another screengrab Teddi posted in her blog, Blizzard said he was getting "mixed messages," with Lisa pushing him to tell Teddi while Ken, friends with PK for decades, was telling him not to say anything. 

Teddi has since claimed to have even more text threads proving her point. 

Exhibit B: Blizzard's Text Messages

After Teddi exposed her text exchange with Blizzard, Ken went right to the source and demanded the employee print out the conversation, which include Teddi telling him, "Have the dog there and I can say it looks like dorit's dog." She then goes on to say, "Either way. It will come out." 

Later on, when LVP is showing Teddi and Kyle the conversation, we also see the original exchange that started everything. 

Blizzard: You need to call me today
Teddi: Everything ok
Blizzard: Whenever you're free
Blizzard: Girl you're going to die
I just can't text
I just CANT
Teddi: I am in total shock. That is insane!! I feel sad for her kids and that poor dog.
Blizzard:I KNOW
Teddi: Narcissistic behavior at its finest. 

Lisa or Ken helpfully wrote in the middle of the page that Blizzard and Teddi spoke on the phone during this, which Blizzard likely telling her all about the Lucy Lucy situation. 

While the messages seem to mostly confirm LVP's take, there are some interesting messages that don't exactly gel with her story (or Blizzard's):

"He's just like before you tell Teddi and Kyle...I'm just going to try and control the situation...because PL has been his best friend for like 40 years," was Blizzard's message to Teddi about Ken having hesitations about moving forward. 

Exhibit C: Sessa Speaks

While the director has remained pretty quiet on the controversy on social media, he did give one interview to the radio show On The Rocks, where he said he has the receipts to prove LVP didn't orchestrate the scene at Vanderpump Dogs. 

"Contrary to what Teddi has said in her blogs and everything that she's doing right now, she's saying that Lisa had planned that all of this would go down at the rescue center on the first day of filming. But that's not true, [according to] the timeline. And I have emails. If you want receipts, Lisa Rinna, I can give you some receipts."


He also confirmed that Lisa did ask him to "shut down" any talks of the Dorit situation, which he ignored.

"I even have the text message from Lisa—and again, no one know this—Lisa said, 'Shut this down,' at 9:45, and we were filming at 10. And honestly, I'm not going to because how am I supposed to be an executive director, doctor of international business for a foundation that is international—we're in six countries—and I'm supposed to say, 'Oh, when something bad happens and it involves a celebrity, we just push that under the rug.' It doesn't work that way."

In her blog post after last night's episode, however, Teddi actually used this defense from Sessa against LVP, writing, "In a recent interview, John Sessa says LVP texted him to 'shut this down' 15 minutes before filming. Shut what down? If there wasn't a plan, what would need to be shut down?"

Exhibit D: The First Dog

While not really evidentiary, the fact hat this was the second dog Dorit and PK had adopted from VD proves they did know the appropriate way to handle the return of a pet.


Back in February, PK actually posted a video of Lucy Lucy, whom the family renamed Celine, and explained in the comments what happened to the first dog when a follower asked what happened to Madison. 

"Maddy had to go back to LVP ,she bit Jagger and Phoenix on the same day ( nothing bad ) and needed a bit More training ,she came from a broken home and was 3 so a little fixed in her ways , she's found a new fab home ,, and Celine works better for us with the kids x"

In his interview with the radio show, Sessa went into detail about this situation. 

"This is the second dog that Dorit had returned to us, or rather, given up," he explained. "She adopted a 3-to-4-year-old beautiful Yorkshire Terrier. So Dorit adopted the dog. She loved the dog, Madison. And a week later, two weeks later, she says, 'I'm sorry, it's just not gonna work out with the family. The dog is biting my family.' Similar to what she said the second time around. I'm not sure what happened. I did see there was a photo with bite marks on PK's nose. So the first dog, we take back."

When it came to Lucy, John said they did not give the Kemsleys a "rescue dog," rather "a dog that I have hand-reared that's never had any issues."

So when he received a message from "a kill shelter in Orange County" saying they had one of VD's dogs and it was dropped off by a "reality celebrity," John said he was "spitting blood." 


Exhibit D: The Spinoff Rumors

After successfully launching Vanderpump Rules using RHOBH (and Scheana Marie's affair with Brandi Glanville's ex-husband Eddie Cibrian), whispers of another potential spinoff from LVP centering on Vanderpump Dogs had been slowly spreading before Lisa Rinna decided to douse them in gasoline and light 'em up just to watch it (potentially) burn. 

"I'm a hustler. I make no bones about that. I think you get paid for what you do," Rinna began a lengthy post on Instagram Stories. "So my feeling is if we indeed are servicing a spin off we should be paid for it.

"If you are going [sic] to use our services without telling us-that we are playing out a storyline to launch a pilot for a new show and you don't compensate us extra for that," she continued. "Yeah I'm a hustler I get paid for what I do."

And she ended her message with a warning: "So if this indeed becomes another show my lawyer will be calling."

She isn't the first cast member to voice their issues about another spinoff potentially being in the works from LVP.

"Wouldn't that be convenient? Really," Teddi told Us Weekly. "I wonder why they based a whole drama about a dog!"

And when the accountability coach stopped by E!'s Daily Pop on Tuesday, she said she ultimately doesn't care if a spinoff about the shelter becomes a reality. "As long as the truth prevails, that's all I care about," Teddi said.

Curiously enough, in the text conversations between Teddi and Blizzard  shown on-screen during the episodes, at one point he wrote, "This season of Vanderpump Dogs..." (He included the cry/laugh emoji and the dog emoji, for the record.)

Exhibit E: LVP's History of Past Possible Manipulations

A cast member since RHOBH began in 2010, Lisa Vanderpump has weathered her fair share of controversies and arguments over the years, usually always coming out on top and leading the pack. 

 "Well, it's been the same seasons two, four, and six," Lisa acknowledged to E! News before the start of the season. "So it's kind of the fourth time." 

But she's never really faced an entire cast of woman banding together against her before like she is with Puppgate, with Lisa Rinna leading the charge to end LVP allegedly controlling the drama and creating storylines behind-the-scenes. 


She was first accused of this in season two, when Adrienne Maloof claimed LVP was selling stories about her to tabloids. 

At the reunion, Lisa fiercely denied the accusations, saying, "Never sold a story. Have I talked to Radar Online? Yes! Sold a story? You think they've given me a check? No on my children's life. On my life!"

The following season, Adrienne left RHOBH.

During her recent sitdown with us, E! News' Melanie Bromley confirmed that, revealing, "Season two—you and I had been friends for a very long time—you were accused in season two of giving stories to me and you were not giving stories to me." 

In season four, her former BFF-turned-nemesis Brandi Glanville accused LVP, who had taken the new cast member under her wing, of convincing her to bring tabloids that claimed Kyle Richards and husband Mauricio were having issues in their marriage on a cast trip. She then went on to claim it was Lisa who convinced her to reveal Adrienne's surrogacy secret the previous season on-camera.

Vanderpump denied the accusations, but it kicked off an epic feud between the two women, with Brandi eventually leaving the show. 

"I've been under your spell for two years," she told LVP in their finale fight. "Truth is, I'm stronger on my own. I don't ever want to be on the other side of your anger. With this fight, I finally feel free. I love you, but I'm not part of your game anymore."


During a 2014 appearance on Watch What Happens Live, Brandi claimed she agreed to sit down with Scheana, the then-SUR waitress who was once her ex-husband's mistress, to help boost ratings for Pump Rules and help out her former friend.

"I sat down with Scheana for her multiple times to help her show, and I said, 'I will do whatever you would like,' and I got tired of it," the model-turned-author claimed, implying Vanderpump set her up for TV. "I think that I fed that b---h."

And in the wake of Puppgate, Brandi has said she is "so happy" to see LVP finally being held accountable for her alleged puppeteering on her Unfiltered podcast, claiming she was fired because of her former friend. 

"Lisa Vanderpump is a manipulative person and when I was on the show I did a lot of her dirty work for her," Brandi said. "I finally realized it and I started calling her on her s--t and I had no backup, zero, and that got me no job."

Brandi, who will make an appearance on the show later this season, added, " I love that Rinna is calling her out, this is a setup, this is what she does. It only took 9 years, 9 seasons, for this to be recognized."

In season six, most of the drama came from the fallout of Lisa Rinna wondering if Yolanda Hadid's Lyme disease was actually Munchausen syndrome. It was confusing. It was tedious. It was hard to follow. And it was allegedly orchestrated by LVP, according to Rinna at the reunion. 

"Lisa V does have a habit of producing the show but the cameras would of caught her saying There's our story line #RHOBH," she tweeted back in 2016.

Ultimately, it was Yolanda's last outing as a Housewife, with Rinna left to deal with the fallout the following season. And it's clear she's still been holding a bit of a grudge about feeling used as a pawn by LVP, becoming Teddi's ultimate defender this season.

"Similar to what Teddi is facing today, three years ago I had the exact same feelings and an uphill battle to face. To be honest, it's incredibly frustrating to watch it play out in front of me, and I can see exactly how this setup will go," Rinna wrote in her blog. "I have painfully lived it already, and I don't want to see Teddi used as a pawn. If I feel like I can help shed light on what is happening, you better believe I will do just that."

Tommy Garcia/Bravo

The "Aftermath"

It's hard to assess the fallout just yet as we're pretty much still in the thick of it, with more information coming out as the episodes finally air.

But fans knew something big was happening when it was reported in November 2018 that LVP would likely be leaving the show after season nine. 

"Lisa will appear in the majority of episodes this season," a production source told E! News at the time. "She has not been filming at every event, but fans can expect to see her throughout."

Translation: LVP will likely stop appearing in scenes with the other women at a certain point this season. (She notably did not attend Camille Grammer's wedding or a group trip to France.) 

"Lisa has only filmed on a few occasions during the beginning of filming this season, and has been absent the remainder of the time," a source told E! News. "She has been refusing to film and...her interactions with the ladies have been solely negative. Lisa has still not returned to filming and as of now has no plan to. It's too far gone, and Lisa agrees that she shouldn't return at this point."

Another source simply added, "The rest of the cast is over her." 

As for her future on RHOBH, Lisa ominously told us, "I don't know yet. They haven't picked it up. I don't know who the cast is, I don't know what I'm doing. At some point I'm going to have to walk away,I just don't know whether it's now or not." 


LVP made a surprise appearance at the season nine premiere party in February, though she didn't post for any photos with or talk to any of her cast members.

"It's my 330th episode of reality television, I've never missed anything until now and that's the way it should continue," she told E! News of showing up.

"No, it doesn't surprise me at all," Teddi later said to us of Lisa's unexpected attendance, "Because I think that's all the point! [Laughs.]" Dorit felt the same way, saying, "Lisa likes to be unpredictable. She hasn't been around or shown up for many things and [this event] was a good opportunity for her to show up and surprise everyone."

As for how bad the divide currently is between LVP and the rest of the women, Dorit revealed it's been "a good few months" since they last spoke.

The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on Bravo. 

(E! and Bravo are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)