CHRISTOPHER STEVENS on TV: Meet Rocky, the Newfoundland cross cuddlier than a giant panda

The Dog House


Amazing Hotels: Life Beyond The Lobby


There ought to be a phrase for it, a springtime when the parks are suddenly full of puppies. A ‘dogsplosion’, perhaps, or ‘wooffull to the brim’.

Bandy legged Labrador pups, curly poodle crosses demanding to be carried, Jack Russells that think they are lions though they’re no bigger than kittens, shaggy little Schnauzers pleading to be chased and over-excited Staffies barking themselves hoarse — wherever you look, it’s a canine kindergarten this year.

But with families desperate for an excuse to get outside in lockdown, the price of pups has increased fourfold within a year. Many breeders are asking £3,000 and more for a pet.

Websites offering pets for sale are unregulated. That encourages people who are amateur and unqualified at best, or even callous and cruel, to breed puppies for a quick profit. The consequences, as The Dog House (C4) showed, can be distressing.

Gemma and her pet pooch Bear were featured in The Dog House

Gemma and her pet pooch Bear were featured in The Dog House

Gemma and her pet pooch Bear were featured in The Dog House

Kevin the French bulldog was just six weeks old, too young to be parted from his mother. But he was the runt of the litter, struggling to feed, and the breeder had simply taken him to a vet’s surgery — then dumped the pup rather than pay the bill.

How anyone can treat a little animal so heartlessly is bewildering. However, as long as no licence is required to breed dogs, let alone keep them, this wretched crime will continue.

Thankfully, Kevin landed on all four paws. Once the staff at the Wood Green shelter had persuaded him to start eating, he was paired with newlyweds Ryan and Katie. They were so desperate for a puppy to love that they’d sit on their sofa with a cushion between them, patting and scratching it.

Ryan’s recent chemotherapy for a brain tumour meant the couple might not be able to conceive a baby. Kevin was the perfect size and temperament to soothe that pain: he just wanted to be adored.

When our puppies can give us so much, it’s a betrayal that we do not do more to protect them from greedy and unscrupulous people.

Big spectacles of the week:

Gangs Of London star Joe Cole is to play spy Harry Palmer in an ITV remake of The Ipcress File — the role made famous by Michael Caine. We know Joe can play action heroes . . . but can he break eggs one-handed like Sir Mike in the classic movie?



The Dog House lacks the campaigning edge to drive that point home. It needs the sort of voice that Paul O’Grady supplies on ITV’s For The Love Of Dogs, to speak out and criticise the law.

But an hour spent watching families meet their new pets cannot fail to lift the mood. Maggie, a widow who wanted ‘another beating heart’ to ease the loneliness in her home, chose an affectionate greyhound.

Adolescent brothers Danny and Alfie were hoping for something big to cuddle: they got a Newfoundland cross called Rocky. The only thing bigger and cuddlier than that is a giant panda.

Chef Monica Galetti also had her arms full of something big and cuddly, as she wrestled a stuffed giraffe into a lift at the Shangri-La hotel in London’s Shard, on Amazing Hotels: Life Beyond The Lobby (BBC2).

Monica was helping to stage a ‘safari experience’ for guests who wanted to visit Africa but couldn’t because of travel restrictions. This was barely a substitute for a trip to Hamleys toy store, never mind a fortnight in the Serengeti.

Manager Kurt warned Monica to watch out for high-altitude cleaners. Since every room in the hotel has one glass wall, even the sauna, the blokes who wash the windows must see some startling sights, 35 floors up.

Kurt carried his own dog, a tiny Yorkshire terrier in a tweed jacket, everywhere he went.

Like the Newfoundland, this spoiled pup was also called Rocky . . . 20 times smaller but just as cuddly.



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