TV’s Paul O’Grady has spoken about the time he almost died after stroking a dog while visiting India.
Paul, 62, revealed how sick he became after contracting a near-fatal illness when he was playing with a wounded dog in Delhi.
The star, who is known for his For the Love of Dogs series, was warned to stay off of the streets and away from the strays but decided to play with and cuddle injured dogs that were lying helpless in the gutters.
‘Getting ill was my own fault,’ her told the Mirror.
‘They said to me, “Keep off the streets, it’s Delhi”. But I was lying in the gutter with these two gorgeous little puppies,’ he explained.
‘I’m feeding them by hand and flicking maggots out of a rat bite, and of course I must have touched my mouth or my face – you forget. When you work with animals, you’re not squeamish.’
Paul then revealed how he was severely ill later that day: ‘At five o’clock in the morning I’m still vomiting. Ten o’clock at night, I’m still at it. They called the doctor and he said you’re going in because you’re so dehydrated.
‘When I got in there, they said “your white blood cells are going berserk, you’re heading for renal failure”.’
The presenter was kept in hospital overnight and dosed up on saline and antibiotics: ‘I don’t remember going into hospital because my temperature was so high,’ he recalls. ‘I felt delirious. They wanted to keep me in for a couple more days, but I said “I’m off”.’
Despite being severely ill and dehydrated, the dog lover just wanted to carry on what he was doing: ‘I wanted to get back to work. I felt a bit doddery at first, especially being back to the heat and the pollution.
‘It is so dreadful you don’t realise you’re not breathing properly. It’s like a pea-souper, it’s green and it floats.’
Paul was in India to film part of his new series of For the Love of Dogs, which also saw him return to the country last November, where he and his crew faced the worry of tapeworm infestation and required blood tests. Fortunately none of them had it: ‘It’s easy to get tapeworms from dogs,’ he said. ‘But every time you go to the loo, to wonder if you’ve got a tapeworm for two weeks, it’s too much. Thank goodness none of us had it in the end.’
Then there was the concern of rabies, but even that didn’t appear to faze Paul: ‘I’m surprised I never got the bloody rabies.’
‘The puppy was given to one of the workers and it bit her, and of course she was hauled off. She had an arm like Popeye and couldn’t move her hand. Rabies is big over there.’
But despite the risks and illness that posed a real threat, Paul didn’t even inform his family about falling ill until he was home: ‘I didn’t even tell them about being ill while I was there,’ he said. ‘I told them afterwards. I’m a great believer in the British stiff upper lip.
‘I don’t want to be moaning, “Oh I’m not well, I’m on 19 tablets”.’
Catch the new series of For the Love of Dogs on 26 April, on ITV1.