The nation’s favourite dog lover Paul O’Grady reveals all about what to give your pooch at Christmas, sleeping on the big day, and being a grumpy Grinch…
What can you tell us about the Christmas Special this year?
There’s lots of new dogs at Battersea to meet and follow their progress. There is one called Misty – a lovely mongrel who was a recluse and couldn’t get out of her kennel because she missed her owner. None of our usual tricks worked – even chicken. So, in desperation, I had to talk to her in my best old lady voice to make her feel secure and encourage her out. I mean, the things you have to do…We’re also going out on the streets of London with the Street Vets team again. We’ll be giving them all Christmas dinner, too – one for them and one for the dogs.
Any top tips for what to feed dogs at Christmas?
Just please don’t give your dog a traditional Christmas dinner – make sure it’s a doggy version of Christmas dinner, so don’t give them gravy or anything like that. The veg are OK – carrots, sprouts, a piece of beef maybe or turkey but don’t be giving them gravy or Christmas pudding or anything like that because it’s completely the wrong diet for them and will make them sick. And definitely not chocolate – it can kill them.
What would you say to viewers considering getting a dog for Christmas?
I know I always say it but it’s just not the right environment to ease a new dog into, you’ve got all of the family there, the kids are there, your Auntie Enid from Hull is there, neighbours are there, lights, trees, decorations, presents. It’s too much. And the kids will overlook the dog on Christmas day because they’ll be more interested in their presents. Also, never buy a dog on the internet because it’ll cost you a fortune and could bring a load of heartache if it has been puppy farmed. They are often sick, and diseased, so you will spend thousands on vet bills and then watch your little boy or little girl break their heart because the puppy’s so poorly.
How will you be spending Christmas this year?
Sleeping in a dark room! I’m in panto this year at the London Palladium and it’s my only day off so I’m not lifting a finger. I’m actually really grumpy about Christmas and all the fuss. I’m a bit like The Grinch. I’m playing the panto villain in Goldilocks which is perfect, I can be as grumpy as I like! But Christmas at Battersea is different though and of course we’ll have all the usual Christmas nonsense – no doubt I’ll be wearing something really ridiculous and we’ll do everything we can to make sure the dogs spending Christmas in kennels get the love and attention they deserve.
Paul O’Grady: For The Love Of Dogs At Christmas, ITV, tonight, 6pm