Tuesday 26 September 2017

Roz Purcell: 'We were advised to get a dog when my sister was diagnosed with cancer'

How dogs can have a positive impact on the happiness of their owners

Roz Purcell and Miniature Jack Russell Wilko, 5 months
Roz Purcell and Miniature Jack Russell Wilko, 5 months
Roz and Wilko Purcell
Kelly Osbourne
Roz Purcell and her puppy Wilko photographed at Loft53 for Pedigree. Picture: Marc O'Sullivan
Cara Delevignen and Leo
Katy Perry
Kathyrn Thomas with her dogs
Roz and Wilko Purcell

Denise Smith

You've scoffed at the emergence of five-star doggy hotels that cater all things to all canines, you've admonished friends who dress their pooches in tutus and headbands for a simple romp in the park, but dog aficionado or not, there's no denying the magic a four-legged friend can bring to your life.

RTÉ newsreader Una O'Hagan and her husband, bestselling author Colm Keane, can attest to that.

In 2007, their only son lost his battle with cancer and life as they knew it, ended.

Sean (20) died on Christmas day, just two and a half years after his diagnosis. But before his death, the big-hearted animal lover insisted that his parents buy a dog with the €35 he left to them in his will.

Una admits: "He was worried we'd be lonely."

The couple never purchased a dog, but they did become adoptive parents when they moved to Waterford two years ago and were introduced to a neighbour's dog who is now officially part of the family.

"We may not own a dog at present, but a Labrador definitely owns us. He turned up one morning at our gate, shortly after eight o'clock, barking loudly and looking to be taken for a walk. He has done the same thing every day since, and we have become the best of friends," explain Una and Colm.

"His name is Frankie - a gold-coloured Labrador, aged 11, somewhat overweight and with the most affable personality you could imagine.

"Somewhere along the way, about two years ago, we gave him a first taste of San Pellegrino sparkling water. He now drinks four bottles a day - the first at the gate in the morning, the rest during our walks. He is a costly dog.

"Frankie really is one big ball of love and affection, and a joy to be with. He knows no malice, holds no grudges and never lets us down. He is loyal, considerate and kind. He really is a wonder dog."

Inspired by Sean's dying wish that they should welcome a dog into the family fold, Colm and Una have now collaborated on their first book Animal Crackers: Irish Pet Stories.

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Roz Purcell and her puppy Wilko photographed at Loft53 for Pedigree. Picture: Marc O'Sullivan

Littered with adorable stories and anecdotes about ordinary Irish people and their most beloved furry characters, it's a tear-jerker and a genuine must-read for all animal lovers who couldn't imagine their life without their fluffy BFFs.

Colm and Una, of course, are not the only people who believe in the therapeutic powers of having a pet pooch.

Dogs are well known to promote healing and research has shown that dog owners are less likely to suffer from depression than those without them. Just a few minutes of bonding with a dog can lower blood pressure, slow the heart rate and reduce shallow breathing.

But health benefits aside, anyone who has a pet knows just how much they contribute to your life: they comfort you when you're upset, love unconditionally and supply endless laughs - there's a reason why we're a pet-loving nation.

So until you get your hands on the book, here are some celebrities swooning over their adorable pooches - it's heart-melting stuff.

Roz and Wilko Purcell

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Roz and Wilko Purcell
 

If anyone is going to upstage Rozanna Purcell, it's her adorable miniature Jack Russell, Wilko. He may be a natural-born model but the bestselling author insists there's a lot more to this pup than his aww-dorable good looks.

"When my sister Rachel was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia earlier this year, one of the things she was advised to do was to keep her stress levels down, and it was suggested to us that we get a dog. We chose to rescue a pup because there are so many dogs out there that need really good homes.

"Wilko is such good company, so full of energy and always so happy which is contagious. It's the ultimate distraction and de-stresser."

Kathryn and Peter and Poppy Thomas

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Kathyrn Thomas with her dogs
 

Proud 'mum' to puggles Peter and Poppy, fitness fanatic and all-round energiser bunny Kathyrn Thomas admits it's her doggy duo that keep her sane.

"My friends are all having kids, and sharing pictures of them, while I'm posting pictures of the dogs. I love meeting dog people so I can show them years of dog photos and they won't mind.

"Peter and Poppy are special because they've always just been there, they know my mood and pick up on it when I'm stressed."

Cara and Leo Delevingne

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Cara Delevignen and Leo
 

It's safe to say that Leo is just as photogenic as his mum - the 23-year-old supermodel is inseparable from her four-legged friend who she describes as her ultimate stressbuster and best friend - he's even a regular at fashion week. The pup enjoyed a front row seat at Chanel's Haute Couture spring/summer 2016 show in Paris and was obviously the best dressed there.

Katy and Butters Perry

Katy Perry definitely adores her little pup. She's so besotted with her pooch Butters that she even has a pair of custom-made, pink pyjamas with prints of his little face all over them. If that's not true love, what is?

Kelly and Nancy Osbourne

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Kelly Osbourne
 

She may be pocket-sized, but Kelly Osbourne's new dog is anything but forgettable. In fact, Nancy the miniature Pomeranian is so adorable the star can't resist taking the pup everywhere

"She is like having a real [baby]," Osbourne wrote on Instagram on May 1.

"I have not slept a full night since we got her, she has to eat every three hours!"

Zendaya and Noon Coleman

When Zendaya's dog Midnight passed away last year, she thanked him "for being one of the most loyal men in her life".

Anyone who has ever lost a childhood pet could relate to the star's heartbreak. Luckily for this little pup, she was able to make room for another furry friend in her life.

"I thought I could never love another pet again… until this angel was given to me on Christmas Eve… he's literally a mini Midnight… he peed on my bed three times last night and I didn't care, I mean look at that face. What a beautiful gift… right when I needed it the most. I'm so thankful for my little man, welcome to the world Noon."

Animal Crackers: Irish Pet Stories, €14.99, is available at Easons and all good book stores

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