Naturalist, nature photographer, author, television presenter and conservationist Chris Packham explains why he’s forever Poodle...
Chris Packham was brought up in Hampshire, and, after graduating in zoology from the University of Southampton, he trained as a wildlife cameraman before becoming a presenter on programmes such as ‘The Really Wild Show’ and ‘Springwatch’.
In 2013, Chris was made an honorary Doctor of Science by his alma mater, and, in the 2019 New Year Honours, he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to nature conservation. This spring Chris is hosting dog-friendly event Dogstival, which takes place on May 18 and 19, at Pylewell Park in the New Forest.
Q. Tell us about your first dog.
“Maximillian de Barstardos, Emperor of Midanbury — a black Miniature Poodle with an enormously inflated sense of his own importance! His personality ruled the Packham family from 1980 to 1994, and his legend lives on.”
Q. Tell us about your current dog.
“Scratchy, 15¾, black Miniature Poodle, brother of Itchy, who died on December 13, 2016. He is the epicentre of my universe, the most important organism on earth, my best friend and greatest love.”
Q. Who has been/is the canine love of your life?
“They all have! Max, Fish (who followed Max), Itchy and Scratchy, all black male Mins, all the best dogs in the world. Ever!”
Q. If you were a dog, which breed would you be?
“A Poodle… are there other breeds?”
Q. Which breed do you like but would never own?
“I like ‘wolfy’ and ‘foxy’ breeds but don’t have the space for bigger dogs, or the disposition to deal with hair everywhere! So, as much as I like heterochromic Huskies, and Basenjis, and the weirdness of Chinese Crested Dogs, I’m forever Poodle, for the simple joy that my dogs bring me every time I’m with them. I called Itchy and Scratchy my ‘joy grenades’ — every time I was with them we exploded with joy.”
Q. Can you tell us when your love of dogs began?
“With Max; before that I was strictly into wild animals. I didn’t have dogs at home as a child, I had foxes, badgers, and kestrels. I was a bit of a snob about ‘domestics’!”
Q. What is the best advice you’ve ever received about owning a dog?
“From a police dog handler — never shout at your dog when he is running away; you are just reinforcing the fact that he is not listening to you.”
Q. Tell us a funny story about your dog(s).
“That would be a volume of some magnitude. They always make me laugh — Poodles are a very challenging (naughty) breed!”
Q. What is the most indulgent thing you’ve ever bought for your dog(s)?
“Umm — not much. They have never been spoiled in material terms; ice creams maybe. They used to like sharing a King Cone with me so I’d buy three so we could have one each.”
Q. Dog(s) allowed in/on the bed: yes or no?
“On and in! It’s essential; falling asleep and waking up with them is perfect, and lying listening to them breathing/snoring is bliss.”
Q. Where is your favourite place for a perfect dog-friendly holiday?
“Somewhere with a wide-open, dog-friendly, sandy beach with no one else on it. Somewhere in the Western Isles of Scotland.”
Q. Name a dog-related product you couldn’t live without.
“It’s more the ones they couldn’t live without, so that is Dentastix, then Rodeo, and now Scratchy is obsessed with Adventuros! Not that he gets too many; they are his special treats when we watch movies together.”