Paul O’Grady is back where he belongs, at Battersea Cats and Dogs Home, meeting the latest residents to trot through the front door. From assisting vets during surgical procedures, to hand-rearing puppies and helping to train a naughty beagle, Paul is determined to get his hands dirty like never before.
Paul meets the dogs who come into the home needing treatment, training and ultimately new homes. Every dog has its own story and each dog needs a new place they can call home.
There is nowhere quite like Battersea, which is tear jerking and uplifting in equal measure. And although Paul immerses himself in the positive work the charity do, he is also forced to confront the heart-breaking reality of stray dogs deserted on the streets of London and those left starving and mistreated.
In episode one Paul falls in love with two year old Frankie, a British Bulldog with a huge personality and a very expressive face, who has problem with his legs. Battersea vet Phil can’t work out what the problem is but suspects it might be neurological.
Next up is King, an English Mastiff, the largest dog breed in the world. He weighs in at 75 pounds and Battersea don’t even have a water bowl big enough for him. He looks intimidating but turns out to be gentle giant who loves to slobber and sleep.
King snores and has sores on his joints from sleeping on hard floors but there’s one big problem that must be resolved before he can be rehomed – he stinks! Poor King has a skin condition, which is similar to eczema in humans.
Paul meets him for the first time: “Hello fella, God he’s massive. What’s his surname, Kong? I’ve just got a bit of a whiff off him. He smells like a bus load of pensioners on a hot day to Margate. It’s making my eyes water.”
King’s pong can be reduced with a regular medicated wash and Paul is given the unenviable task of helping to bathe him and improve his aroma, in a bid to get him a home. It’s not going to be easy.
While the vet waits for the test results to come back, Paul spends some more time with Frankie and their bond begins to grow. Paul says: “You’re very handsome Frankie, has anyone ever told you that? You’ve got nothing that can’t be fixed I’m sure.”
Battersea takes in any dog that comes through the gate and a litter of newborn puppies, who have been rejected by their Mum, have just arrived. The 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 deal with.
In order to encourage a puppy to go to the toilet on their own, the mother usually licks them on the bottom to stimulate their bathroom break. Paul is tasked with using a substitute tongue to help the puppies and inevitably ends up with soaking trousers. Paul says: “I think this one’s got one coming, ‘cos he’s making that noise that old people on commodes make. Oh look he’s peeing for England all over me. I don’t pee like that, let alone you.”
But what will Frankie’s test results reveal? Will it be the news everyone is hoping for, or will it go the way that real life sometimes does at Battersea? And what lies in store for King pong?
Having spent time with both dogs, 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 kids of owners.
Paul O’Grady: For The Love Of Dogs episode one is new and exclusive to ITV, produced by Shiver. Thursday 9th May at 8.30pm.