Paul O’Grady is back at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home for another series of For the Love of Dogs. Paul is determined to get his hands dirty like never before – from assisting vets during surgical procedures, to hand-rearing puppies and helping to train a naughty beagle.
In this first instalment, Paul falls in love with two year old British Bulldog Frankie who has a huge personality and a very expressive face but has a problem with his legs. Phil the vet can’t work out what the problem is but suspects it may be neurological. Phil explains, “we’ve got some good friends at the vet college so we’re going to refer him up there for tests that we can’t do here in the home and get a better idea of what’s wrong with him.”
As the vets wait for the results to come back, Paul’s bond with Frankie begins to grow as he tells him, “you’re very handsome Frankie, has anyone ever told you that? You’ve got nothing that can’t be fixed I’m sure.” Frankie’s test result have Paul in tears has head vet Shaun breaks the bad news, “he’s actually got quite an unusual condition, a cyst on his spine, there are very few cases out there, it’s quite rare.”
With a potentially inoperable condition, Frankie’s chances of being rehomed fall sharply and Paul is devastated for his newest friend. Paul says, “I’m absolutely shell-shocked to be honest, I had no idea it could be this serious.” Thankfully there is some good news as Sean reveals, “we do have a potential new home, a lovely lady who came here to get another dog but has fallen in love with him, she lives down in Somerset has a lot of space and has other dogs as well.”
Paul also meets English Mastiff King, as he weighs in at 75 pounds Battersea don’t even have a water bowl big enough for him. King looks intimidating but turns out to be a gentle giant who loves to slobber and sleep. King snores and has sores on his joints from sleeping on hard floors but there’s a massive problem to be resolved before he can be rehomed – he stinks! Poor old King has a skin condition, which is similar to eczema in humans. Paul spots King’s odour straight away, “I’ve just got a massive whiff off him, it’s making my eyes water.”
King’s odour can be reduced with a regular medicated wash and Paul is given the unenviable task of helping to bath him and improve his aroma, in a bid to get him a home. But Paul’s task isn’t going to be an easy one. Thankfully after his medicated bath he’s smelling a lot fresher which is good news as a family arrive to take a look at him. Paul has one last trick to make King appeal to his new owners, “it’s a lavender bag, old ladies put them in their knicker drawers but it makes handsome fellas like King smell nice.”
Battersea will take in any dog that comes through the gate and a litter of newborn puppies, who have been rejected by their mother, have just arrived. These puppies need feeding every two hours, day and night, and some of the Battersea staff will be playing mum for the next few weeks.
But feeding isn’t the only maternal duty they have to carry out. In order to encourage a puppy to go to the toilet on its own, the mother usually licks them on the bottom to stimulate their bathroom break. Paul is tasked with using a substitute to help the puppies and predictably ends up with soaking trousers. Paul says, “I think he’s got one coming, because he’s making that noise old people on commodes make. Oh look he’s peeing all over me, I don’t pee like that, let alone you.”
Having spent time with King and Frankie, Paul desperately hopes they can both find loving homes, despite the problems they face. The magic of Battersea is in matching all kinds of dogs with all kinds of owners.
Paul O’Grady: For the Love of Dogs returns tonight on ITV at 8:30 pm
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