Broadcaster, journalist and author Clare Balding will be a familiar face to any Crufts fans, having presented its TV coverage since 2004. Clare has just launched her own doggie podcast – Dogcast – where she will explore the world of dogs with her15-year-old Tibetan Terrier, Archie.
Dogs Today interviewed her for our June issue…
What made you choose a Tibetan Terrier?
My wife, Alice, is allergic to dog hair, so we needed a breed that didn’t shed. Tibetan Terriers are medium-sized and sturdy; they can walk long distances if required, but are also happy with shorter walks. They’re loyal, protective, affectio, when inthe mood, and they can be very funny.
Who have been the other special dogs in your life?
The first face I remember registering was Candy the Boxer. I think I thought she was my mother. I grew up with Boxers and Lurchers. I wrote a book called My Animals and Other Family with every chapter about a different dog or horse.
What’s the naughtiest or most embarrassing thing a dog of yours has ever done?
When he was a puppy, Archie explored a friend’s house and brought down many items from her bathroom to play with. I was mortified, but luckily, she thought it was very funny. He’s unwrapped Christmas presents to eat the contents, unzipped bags and opened delivery boxes. You’d think he had been starved his whole life.
Does Archie have any party tricks?
He will offer a paw if there are biscuits around. He quite likes to dance, but he does so with no particular routine, just random jumping.
Which famous person would you say Archie most closely resembles and why?
Daniel Day Lewis. He can be many different characters – sometimes loving and needy, sometimes offhand and disinterested, sometimes downright unfriendly – but he’s our dog and we love him.
Does Archie ever go to work with you?
He’s done Ramblings on BBC Radio 4 a few times, but now he’s so old, the walks are a bit too much for him. Last time, I had to bribe him up Cleeve Hill in Cheltenham with a pocket full of food.
Have you had any memorable holidays with Archie?
We’ve taken him to a couple of really nice dog-friendly hotels – Lucknam Park near Bath and Whatley Manornear Malmesbury. He was very comfortable (perhaps too comfortable) in both and they did a brilliant job ofmaking it special.
Tell us about your new Dogcast…
It’s a podcast all about dogs, featuring great stories about how dogs have changed people’s lives. We hear from experts as well as dog lovers and share tips on behaviour, training, nutrition, exercise and managing age (particularly relevant for Archie), as well as exploring the characteristics of many different pedigree breeds and crossbreeds.
You’ve presented the Crufts coverage for a number of years. What are the highlights of the show for you?
I love learning about the different breeds and the jobs they were originally bred for. I also really enjoy the huge range of activities that show off various canine strengths. From agility to flyball, obedience, heelwork to music and police work, dogs take centre stage in every way. There’s nothing like it on TV or as a live event, and I cherish it for its uniqueness as well as embracing the improvements that are made.
What’s the best thing about being a dog owner?
Apart from having a family member to love andcare for, a dog gives you focus, structure and a reasonto go out every day, as well as a local friend network that is based on the dogs your dog likes.