Paul joins the team at Battersea as they help more dogs with incredible stories, from a terrier saved from drowning in the River Thames, to a dog found riddled with pellets from a gun. Paul and the team are on hand to give them some much needed rest and rehabilitation in the hope of finding them a loving new home to call their own.
How does it feel to be back at Battersea?
It’s like I never left. I just walk in and carry on! They all know me. I’m part of the furniture here now. I’m always to be found crawling around a kennel or hosing down somewhere. I think it’s a feel-good show. A bit like Cinderella really. Everyone likes a happy ending. You see a dog come in in a terrible state and you see it improve as the result of the care and then hopefully go off to a new home and a happy future. People tell me how they have been in bits watching and it can be sad too. The thing is I’m just a punter so I think my emotions are their emotions. But I don’t want to be crying on camera. No-one wants to see that! Also, it’s not about me. It’s about the dogs.
Does the success of the show continue to surprise you?
What’s amazing now is how popular the show is overseas. Australia, Canada, China, Germany, even Dubai! Three little boys from Dubai ran up to me in London the other day and their mum said they love the show. It amazes me, all these years down the line, the response it gets. The National TV Award again this year – I mean it’s an old show now, we’ve been going for eight years! I was only supposed to do six days filming here back in 2012 but I‘ve never really left since. People always tell me they laugh at me rolling around on the floor with these dogs, but that’s the only way to be with them. I’m not going to stand at the gate all day talking to the
camera. I genuinely love these dogs. I really do.
Can you tell us about the rowdy little Staffie pups you meet in ep1?
The pups were crazy, climbing all over me, hanging off my shirt, chewing my shoe and sock off, biting on my leg – they just want to play. But the difference in them now they’ve grown – they are so well behaved. Staffies are such a great breed and so misrepresented. Thankfully the pups are always easy to rehome- it’s the older dogs I worry about. But the staff at
Battersea are amazing and do everything they can to find the right home.
Also the amazing story of Mongrel Sunny who was stolen as a pup and been missing for 13 years?
Sunny was lovely, he was chipped but he’d been missing for 13 years – he was just so sad. Such a character and yet so mournful. We don’t know where he’d been all that time.
Any other stories coming up that we should look out for?
There’s an amazing dog called Marty who needs something to keep him busy and occupied so I managed to get a him a walk-on part in Holby City. He was such a lovely dog. Also, a dog called Lady – found full of shotgun pellets. What kind of person does that? We also had a dog called Splash – rescued from the River Thames. He wasn’t tagged, he had no collar. He was a sweet little thing, a little terrier, full of life. We are supposed to be a nation of dog lovers! You think you’ve seen it all and then a dog comes in and it takes your breath away. Just please bring the dog in. Please, please don’t just leave it tied up somewhere. The staff at Battersea are not going to be judgemental, they just care about the welfare of the dog.
Did any other dogs steal your heart this series?
Samson, the Akita, he’s huge. He was found as a stray and there was something wrong with his nose and they thought it was cancer but it’s not, it’s his immune system so he’s on medication. Normally Akita’s are quite standoffish. But not Samson, he’s like a donkey, sat on my knee, while I’m trying to film a link. He’d come up and give me his paw. And his tail would
go and I’d think, ‘Oh God, we’ve bonded’. Also Linda, the Pyrenean mountain dog – a big white one. She was like a gentle giant and I was obsessed with her. She was like Snow White. She had a little bit of a bladder problem but she was on medication for that, bless her. I still
get so attached. I think I have just always got on with animals. As a kid I was a nightmare – rabbits, terrapins, mice, rats… animals everywhere. Thank god when the dogs get a home, so I can’t take them home. It’s a relief when we finish filming and I’ve got through the series without taking any more home. I’ve got four of my own plus all my other animals. They follow
me everywhere. And that’s enough!
Paul O’Grady For the Love of Dogs, is on
Wednesdays at 8pm on ITV (if you have missed an episode, you can catch up on ITVplayer)
Interview curtesy of the ITV Press Office, edited by Christina May