Chris Packham is a true believer in one of humanity’s closest connections to the animal world – the friendship between a man and his dogs.
So when his pet poodle Itchy died from prostate cancer before Christmas, the TV star and Itchy’s brother, Scratchy, were plunged into grief over the loss of their furry friend.
And Chris was scared that Scratchy would suffer a similar fate.
During an exclusive chat with Yahoo Celebrity UK, the nature expert admitted they had a “really miserable start to the year” missing Itchy and feeling depressed, but a recent biopsy has shown that Scratchy is cancer-free and Chris says he and his pooch have “turned a corner”.
He said: “I literally just received a text actually from my partner, before I came to speak to you, to say that a biopsy taken last week is clear and it’s nothing nasty. He’s 14 and a half and he’s full of beans. I mean psychologically he was quite chronically depressed and so were the pair of us.
“You know, the pair of us had a really miserable start to our year and we’re still thinking of him. I still think of him every day.”
“We had a terrible time, the pair of us actually. He (Scratchy) picked up, and I took him to my home in France and he went right down again, and so did I. But over the last couple of months he really perked up actually, he’s been more cheerful.
“He’s (Scratchy) turned a corner.”
Chris – who is in a relationship with Isle of Wight Zoo owner Charlotte Corney – often resides in France but during their vist after Itchy’s death, their grief really hit them hard.
He added: “Scratchy and I know each other well, we’ve been together 14 and a half years. He sleeps on my bed, he eats from my plate, you know, we share, he’s in my car, he’s just on the passenger seat. We have a very very strong bond. He is the centre of my universe, and that’s it.
He added: “He was excited about going (to France), he was excited about arriving, and as soon as he went in and his brother wasn’t there… Who knows what goes on in their minds? But when he thought that his brother was going to be there, within a few hours he got very depressed, he lay on the bed, he wouldn’t go walking, he went off on his own and lost weight, I got really fed up too, and we came home. We haven’t been back actually.”
Chris has been keeping himself busy with work, recently filming a hunter-gatherer tribe in Sumatra and reuniting with his Really Wild Show co-host Michaela Strachan to support a campaign to raise awareness of the plight of the Kiwi bird.
He previously said he has kept Itchy’s body in a freezer in a barn in the garden of his cottage in the New Forest and will eventually have him cremated.
Considering the future, the 56-year-old environmentalist says he will search for new poodle companions one day, but not while Scratchy is alive because the canine is too possessive over him.
He added: “I can’t get another dog with Scratchy because he’s so possessive. When I’m with him, he’s not further than a metre away from me. He’s stuck to me like glue. And if I go walking from one side of the room to the other, he follows. So, you know, after I lose Scratchy, which is obviously inevitable at some point, then I’ll get another pair of black miniature poodles because they keep me happy.”
Chris has teamed up with New Zealand brand Old Mout Cider and his longtime friend Michaela Strachan to launch a new one-off, wildlife show, entitled, The Kiwi Wild Show, to help save the endangered bird.