On Tuesday morning my phone rang and it was a random London phone number. I don’t answer these because they’re usually telemarketing calls and they drive me mad so I did my normal and let it ring off only to receive a voicemail notification afterwards.
When I listened to it I was in shock! It was a producer from ITV’s This Morning asking me to ring them back, which I obviously did Instantly.
I was on the show last June when we were raising funds for Bella’s veterinary treatment and they still had my details.
She asked me if I still had all of my dogs and if I would be willing to appear on the show the next day.
There was a new song being released specifically for dogs that had been scientifically developed to make them feel happy and they wanted to play it to my pack and see how they responded. I was to have a camera man come to my house to film them just like I did before.
I was over the moon to be asked but I’m also aware of the backlash you get after being on TV. There’s always people that are looking for something to judge. So after I’d walked my clients dogs, I came home and started cleaning and tidying my house so that it looked the best it could on camera the next day.
Half way through I received another call informing me that because of Covid regs the camera man couldn’t enter my house this time and asking if there was a window they could film through. Now I’m a person that can’t think straight and solve problems instantly, I have to step back and assess the situation before coming up with a solution so I know I probably didn’t sound too sure on the phone but I confirmed that there were windows in the room we were planning to use.
At this point all I could think was that last time the camera man came and allowed my dogs the time to meet him and get used to him before we went live so they all settled well. This time there would be a strange man outside the window that they didn’t know, who would then be poking a camera through the open window. I was terrified that they wouldn’t settle enough and would be constantly barking at them.
This window also has a low windowsill on the inside that the dogs usually get onto and sit on so they could easily jump out of that window and would then be running around the farm. My anxiety really started to kick in and everything inside me just wanted to ring back and cancel, but it was now nearly 5pm the night before and I knew that if I did that then I’d really be messing things up for the producers and with everything they did for Bella last year I just couldn’t do that.
I was so worried but I knew that my dogs would feed off of my emotional state so I needed to calm myself down and stop stressing about all of the things that could happen. I sat down with them and did some deep breathing exercises and decided that the best thing to do was to communicate with each dog and explain what was happening. I enlisted the help of my animal communicator friends with this, I posted all of their pictures on our group and asked for them to send calming energy and to help me in preparing my dogs. True to form they were all there instantly with their help and support and they will never know how grateful I am to each and every one of them.
One by one I started to send my dogs images of a man standing outside our front room window and explain what was happening and asked them to do this for me, without barking and without escaping. Some didn’t really care about what was happening, a couple weren’t sure that they could promise me those things and Poppy (the one I was most worried about escaping) told me she wouldn’t escape and even if she did get out she wouldn’t go anywhere, she’d always come back. I went to bed that night feeling a lot happier about what we were facing the next day.
Wednesday morning I got up early and went through my normal morning routine of letting the dogs out and feeding the ducks, then I set about rearranging the front room ready for the TV crew to arrive. I moved the sofa’s away from the window and took the curtains down. I hoovered again because you wouldn’t believe how much dog hair appears hourly in this house! Then I made myself a cup of tea and allowed the calmer half of the pack to sit with me in the front room while I sat down and calmed my nerves again.
Around 9.30 I received a call, it was the sound man trying to find us, we didn’t have a sound man last time so now I knew there would be two men outside the window instead of one. I discussed all of my concerns with him and he was absolutely amazing at putting my mind at rest. He looked at the situation and we came up with a way of having the window open and keeping the dogs in. I then came in and sent this new image of 2 men outside to the dogs, they really didn’t care at this point.
Once the cameraman turned up I let all of the other dogs in and allowed them to get used to them being outside. They barked a bit when Kev entered the house or when the sound man opened the window to talk to me but mostly they were calm and happy and just laid around the room. I couldn’t be happier and spent time just sitting, cuddling them and concentrating on keeping my nerves and anxiety under control so as not to feed anything to them that might trigger a behavioural response that I didn’t want.
Finally the time came to go live and just as we received the 30 second warning, Bella got up and took her position right in front of the camera and this is where she stayed the while way through. It was as if she thought it was The Bella Show. All of the other dogs were perfect, there was no barking at the sound or camera men, the only dog that was at the window was Chelsea and that was only because he was desperate to say hello to these two men. I just kept seeing the sound man stroking him and pushing him down if he got too close to climbing out. Poppy stayed on the sofa at the back of the room and didn’t go anywhere near the window. I was so proud of all of them.
Then the time came to play the track. I was really excited about hearing it because I have seen effect that relaxation music and meditations can have on dogs so for me it was amazing to think that there would now be an uplifting song that we could play to dogs to make them happier.
The track was played and my dogs did nothing. A couple that were sitting up laid down and one pricked his ears up and turned his head the first time a ball squeaked but that was it! I don’t mind admitting I was a bit disappointed at the time, but as I’ve said above I’m not very good at thinking in the moment. I’ve since had time to actually sit and think about it.
This song was meant to make the dogs FEEL happier not LOOK happier. Just like us, they don’t necessarily have to be jumping around and wagging their tails to be happy. I know my dogs are happy with their lives, they tell me daily. Who’s to say that this song didn’t increase their serotonin levels and make them a bit happier?
I have since asked them and have had it confirmed that they’re happiest when they’re laying around on the sofa’s spending time with me. The general census from them was that the song was ok but just being trusted enough to be included in this moment with me was enough to make them happy anyway.
We always look for external influences to make our dogs lives better. The expensive toys, the treats, the countryside walks or even the songs developed for them, but all our dogs really need to be happy is us.
Here’s the link if you’d like to watch the replay of the show 👇🏻
For my bit go to 3.06