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For The Love Of Dogs
In a new seven-part series, Paul O’Grady goes behind the scenes at Battersea Dogs and Cats’ Home, which has been taking in abandoned animals for 150 years. He tells TV Choice why it was such an extraordinary experience…
How did you get involved with the series?
I’ve always wanted to do a show with animals because I get on so well with them. When I heard it was Battersea, I said yes instantly. Hand on heart, this is one of the nicest jobs I’ve had. Battersea is a magical place. It’s such an enriching place to work. The staff are lovely and work like Trojans, and, my God, they care. I’ve got to know them all and now they can’t get rid of me!
You were rather taken with a Boxer dog called Carmine…
He was like the love of my life. He’s such a lovely soul that dog. In every episode there’s bits of nonsense I do where I’m trying to steal Carmine. We were like Disney villains skulking across the yard. I really did want him. But because he’d had a hip replacement and needed a lot of love and one-to-one care, I didn’t think it would be fair if I had to go away on business and not bond with him properly. So reluctantly – very reluctantly – I let him go to another home.
Have you always had pets yourself?
Ever since I was a kid. I had a grass snake and a ferret. Though my mother hated her and called her a rat. I always wanted a dog. But when I got older, living in a flat and working in pubs and clubs all over the country for years, I couldn’t have one. I had cats, goldfish, canaries… anything I could have in a small flat.
But now you’re living on a farm in Kent…
….and I’ve filled it with animals. Sheep, pigs, even owls. And, of course, dogs; Louis, Olga, Bullseye and young Eddie, whom I got from Battersea. I couldn’t imagine life without dogs.
Of course, everyone remembers your beloved dog Buster, who appeared with you on your chat show, but sadly died three years ago.
I couldn’t believe how many letters I got from famous dog lovers who’d met him. Roger Moore, Martin Clunes, Stockard Channing, Lauren Bacall – they all sent little notes and cards saying how sorry they were. He was such a special animal.