THERE’S a reason we call them man’s best friend.
Total loyalty, limitless love and an infectious joy – no wonder we love our dogs.
Ben Fogle adores his labrador Storm[/caption]
One in four of us has one, with labradors being the most popular.
Now Netflix is streaming a six-part documentary called Dogs on our furry friends, as a celebration of the bond between them and us.
Each episode features a different story from around the world, from a refugee battling to get his pet out of war-torn Syria to an Italian fisherman who relies on his labrador at work.
Here, our favourite writers and celebrities movingly celebrate their own dogs . . .
Lorraine Kelly and her Border terrier Angus[/caption]
OUR Border terrier Angus was a year old last month but it feels as though he has been part of the family for ever. He is a real character – cheeky, funny and clever but also loyal and brave.
He can be very naughty and, this summer when we drove to Spain with him in the back of the car, he chewed up his passport and we had to get him an emergency one to get him back into the UK.
It’s impossible to be cross, though, as he looks at you with that cute face, head cocked, and you melt like a chocolate button in the sun.
Angus learned to swim wearing a life jacket, and now loves the water. He needs lots of exercise and my husband Steve and I take him for long walks, which is also really good for us.
Lorraine says Angus needs a lot of exercise but he loves swimming[/caption]
His favourite toy is a grubby, squeaky plastic piggy and he will play with you for hours at a game of “fetch” – although being a terrier he hates letting go of his piggy so it’s all a bit one-sided, to be honest.
He has a more extensive wardrobe than me and “tolerates” being dressed up. He was a cute bumblebee at Halloween and has a collection of coats that keep him warm and stylish.
He’s a brilliant dog and I can’t imagine life without him. I love coming home to an ecstatic welcome and it does not matter whether I have been away for just two minutes or two weeks – the enthusiasm level is the same.
It’s good to have another heartbeat in the house and you can never be bored or lonely when Angus is around.
Ben Fogle says Storm is ‘the light of our family’[/caption]
OUR relationships with fellow humans are full of complications – but those with dogs are simple and unfailing.
My childhood dogs, Liberty and Lexington, were golden retrievers. They were my security blankets and confidants. I would whisper my angst into their ears and felt better.
But Inca was my first true dog love. A black labrador, she was my luxury when marooned on a windswept island for a year, for TV.
She kept me sane. She was also responsible for me meeting my wife – as we walked our dogs in London’s Hyde Park.
Ben says Storm will steal food and chews the kids’ toys but they always forgive her[/caption]
When Inca died, I needed medication to stop panic attacks. It was like losing my shadow.
Then came Storm another black lab, and the light of our family. The children love her more than us.
She is funny and naughty. She steals food and chews the kids’ toys but they always forgive her.
When she wakes them in the morning, they smile as she leaps into their beds. In return, we show her our love.
Chris Packham says poodle Scratchy is ‘the thing I love most in the world’[/caption]
MY relationship with Scratchy is the purest of friendships. He’s the thing I love most in the world. People can be confounded by that. They ask: “You love a dog more than your partner?”
But I’ve always been able to form stronger relationships with animals. Humans are more tricky for me.
It’s probably linked to my autism. Dogs provide security in a world that can be very difficult.
Scratchy is a poodle, as was his twin brother Itchy, who passed away in 2016. Poodles are little anarchists, which as an old punk appeals to me.
I used to call Itchy and Scratchy my “joy grenades” – every time I’d take them out on a walk I’d pull the pin out and they’d explode with delight.
There is no question that I’m at my happiest when with Scratchy. I feel more secure, more complete.
He’s 15-and-a-half now and I constantly fret about him. I realise our time together is precious. I want to make the most of every day.
It was two years ago that we lost Itchy, and Scratchy still looks for his brother.
I made a vile mistake once that showed how keenly he misses him. He and I had been out for our morning stroll – it was a soggy day and his coat was soaked. When it was time for our afternoon walk it was still wet, so I grabbed Itchy’s coat from the side and placed it on Scratchy.
I instantly regretted it – he was horrified. His tail went down, he wouldn’t move. He just stood in the kitchen with his head bowed, looking blankly at the ground.
I immediately took the coat off and put it on the floor. He walked around it in a circle, then sat down, staring at his brother’s old coat. I was so overwhelmed with sadness, that I cried.
When our time is up, my hope is our ashes will be scattered in the woods. I like the idea of our carbon molecules turning into something beautiful like a tree.
Tony Parsons’ day begins and ends bby walking his King Charles spaniel Stan[/caption]
MY day begins and ends walking my dog – a rakishly handsome cavalier King Charles spaniel called Stan Before I have exchanged a word with my wife or daughter, Stan and I have slipped out for our morning walk.
We are out whatever the weather – tramping across the heath, chilling in dog-friendly cafes, mooching off-lead in graveyards or just wandering the streets, meeting other dogs. Stan makes me laugh, keeps me fit and gets me talking to strangers. I work from home and he likes to sleep in a corner of my office.
I spend more hours with him than around any human. He is more like a best friend than a pet. If you want a pet, get a goldfish.
When I go out in the evening, I can’t do it without guilt that I am leaving Stan. But when I get home, he reacts with tail-wagging delight. Dogs don’t sulk.
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BEFORE I got my dog, Bua, I had no intention of getting one. I did not plan it. I was hungover and, if I’m honest, fancied cuddling a pup.
But three years later, I am rarely without my foot-high, labradoodle-shaped shadow. It was love at first sight. I have never regretted that daft decision, which I cannot advocate.
Even when she went through that stage of getting my pants out of the laundry and placing them at the feet of visitors to my house. Even when my boyfriend’s earplugs vanished and showed up later in the park after an unceremonious squat (her, not me).
Even when I watched her vomit, then eat her sick.
Emily says it was ‘love at first sight’ when she met Bua[/caption]
Every day, I am grateful. I am self- employed and that can be lonely. I also suffer from anxiety and would lock myself away. Bua gave me a reason to leave the house.
Nothing makes me as happy as her bounding toward me without a care in the world.
I will never be able to thank her enough.
Bua has been the best ever hangover.