Talking Dogs with Nicky Campbell

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08 April 2021
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Nicky Campbell talks to Your Dog about the love he has for dogs and the comfort and happiness they can bring.

About Nicky Campbell

BAFTA-winning presenter Nicky Campbell has hosted Radio 5’s breakfast show since 2003, and ITV’s ‘Long Lost Family’ since 2011.

He recently launched the ‘One of the Family’ podcast, exploring how our lives and those of our dogs are intertwined, and featuring guests such as Ricky Gervais, Gabby Logan, Chris Packham, and Gary Lineker.

Nicky and Maxwell.

Q: In your new book (see below) you credit your special Labrador, Maxwell, with helping you come to terms with being adopted and your feelings of abandonment. How has he done this?

A: “Maxwell never needs an explanation for how I am feeling. He instinctively understands my moods and emotions in an unspoken and empathetic way. If I’m having a bad day or a sad moment, or just need some stillness, he will come over and put his head on my lap, or his paw on my leg, and I will feel instantly comforted. We share a special place in each other’s lives and he is always there for me. He makes me feel safe, and he allows me to be my real self and my best self.”

Q: Your first dog was a terrier-cross called Candy; would it be fair to say your love of animals stems from him?

A: “Most definitely. My father bought Candy home shortly after I was adopted, so we were raised together. We were the same age, the same height, and right from day one, we were on the same level. He was my brother-in-legs and as soon as I could crawl, I was crawling with him, as soon as I could talk, I was barking with him. For a while, I approached any visitor on all fours and sniffed them just like Candy, much to my parents’ embarrassment.
He made me endlessly happy — an unconditional friend, a wonderfully boisterous playmate. When, 11 years later, he had to be put to sleep, the despair that hit me was, and still is, like nothing else I’ve ever known.”

Q: How old is Maxwell and what three things do you love most about him?

“Maxwell is nearly 13. There are so many things I love about him but the top three are: his empathy and gentleness; the smell of his ears and the depth of his deep-brown eyes; and the fact that even at this ripe old age, he acts like a mischievous puppy whenever there is food around. Seeing the flash of his younger self as he successfully secures an extra treat, is intoxicating.”

A: How has owning a dog helped your life and routine during lockdown?

“During lockdown, it’s been very special for Tina and me, having our daughters here for such sustained periods of time. At the end of our working days, when we are all on the sofa, in front of the fire, chatting or watching TV, Maxwell and our two West Highland White Terriers, Misty and Maisy, are the epicentre of warmth, love, and cuddles. I love it too when I come back from the supermarket and they are all there to greet me, as if I have been away for weeks on some adventurous expedition.” 

Q: What do you think is the main lesson we can all learn from dogs?

A: “That the love and tenderness of a dog — and the love and tenderness of loving a dog — can sustain us through all the ups and downs of life.”

Nicky’s book ‘One of the Family — Why A Dog Called Maxwell Changed My Life’ is out now, published by Hodder & Stoughton (hardback, £20), and available from all good book shops and online.