Matt Newbury wonders what it is with gay celebs and their pets
I like to imagine that there’s an exclusive park somewhere in London where the abundance of famous gay dog owners all go to walk their canine companions and share the latest celebrity gossip. There’s Graham Norton with Bailey and Madonna (yes, really…), Alan Carr with Bev and Joyce, Clare Balding with Archie, Paul O’Grady with Buster, Olga, Louie and Bullseye, John Barrowman with Penny, Lewis, Tiger, Charlie, Captain Jack and Harris and Simon Cowell with Pudsey (for legal reasons we should point out the last one was a joke. Ed).
Gay celebrities really seem to like doggies and probably for exactly the same reasons that the rest of us do. Unlike some other creatures we may come across on the gay scene, a dog is reliable, loyal and loving and doesn’t finish every sentence with a punch line or try to slip in an innuendo at the first opportunity. And a dog is for life and not just till daybreak.
As most of us have no plans to have children, a dog can be the perfect surrogate – not just a best friend, but a family member. And that brings with it some welcome responsibility – you can’t go out clubbing till 8am leaving your four-legged friend at home, well not unless you want him to chew up your porn collection and pee on your cushions.
Dogs also need to be walked, which means exercise and fresh air and potentially meeting some interesting people – yes a cute dog can be a great icebreaker and a perfect pulling device. Sue Perkins met her girlfriend while walking her dog in a park, while a surprising number of married and apparently “straight” men also seem to like taking a stroll with their hounds around Hampstead Heath and Clapham Common.
Pets must also be a particularly attractive proposal for celebrities who probably need to question the motives of everyone who crosses their path. A dog definitely isn’t after your money and seems completely content with a nice stroke and an occasional bone. But then again, aren’t we all…
Mind you some dogs are shamelessly happy to use their famous owners as a springboard to their own celebrity – Fanny the Wonder Dog brazenly took advantage of Julian Clary to paw his way to the middle (even releasing a book), while the late Buster walked all over Paul O’Grady in his quest to get a personalised range of nodding dogs to the market place.
Of course the real advantage of belonging to a celebrity is the opportunity to be spoilt rotten. David Walliams (who is so camp he might as well be gay) recently took his border terrier Bert out for a meal at Scott’s, one of London’s swankiest restaurants. The pampered pooch sat at its own chair and woofed down a £35 rib-eye steak – cooked medium-rare and washed down with a bowl of bottled mineral water. He declined a doggie bag, but was later spotted with a Hermes bag stuffed full of toys.
Other celebrities take things to a whole other level. Forget a guest list taking in the likes of Liz Hurley, Donatella Versace, Claudia Schiffer and queen of the fag hags, Cilla Black, the guest of honour at the civil-partnership ceremony of Elton and David was their dog Arthur. When they were told that pets were forbidden from the celebrations at chosen venue, Windsor Guildhall, they responded by making their canine companion “best man” – a critical part of the proceedings that could not be banned from attending.
Celebrity dogs are also fairly good at getting into gay venues, with the likes of Geri Halliwell and Frankie from the Saturdays taking their dogs to G-A-Y. In other news, lots of gay men have also been spotted wearing dog collars to The Hoist accompanied by their master. While we wouldn’t necessarily recommend taking your canine companion clubbing, more and more gay bars now welcome dogs so you can enjoy some hooch with your pooch.
Rather than buying really expensive and well-bred dogs, nearly all of the gay dog owners mentioned in this piece have picked up their dogs from a rescue home. Perhaps they feel an empathy with the waifs and strays, the mistreated and abandoned, all just wanting a bit of attention. Mind you, these acts of charity don’t do your profile any harm either.
Dog homes have certainly woken up to the fact that not only are gay people statistically more likely to own a pet, they are also rather good at it. Battersea Dogs Home now hosts an annual dog show in association with Pride London, with categories including “Dandies Dog”, “Prettiest Bitch”, “Super Staffie”, “Best Rescue Dog” and “Looky-likey”. The event is a fundraiser for the popular dog’s home and the best overall prize-winning pooch gets pride of place on a float in the main pride parade.
Some gay celebrities don’t just own a dog but a veritable menagerie of wildlife. Paul O’Grady who is just about to be welcomed back onto our screens with a series called For the Love of Dogs about life at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, has a farm-sized collection of animals at home. As well as his dogs he has a flock of sheep, goats, chickens, horses, an owl and even a pig called Blanche who he takes on walks around Romney Marshes.
Pam St Clement has hung up her earrings as Pat Butcher to join This Morning as the show’s new animal expert. As well as being a dog lover and supporting PDSA, Hearing Dogs for Deaf People and the Pets as Therapy Campaign, she is also a keen horse rider and patron of Veteran Horse Welfare.
Of course the best thing about pets is that they don’t judge you. Homosexuality can be found in over 1500 animal special, but homophobia is only found in one. That said, even animals can sometimes come up against bigoted attitudes. A seeing-eye dog and its trainer were bared from a Thai restaurant in Australia after staff misheard and though his “guide dog” was a “gay dog”.’ Needless to say they ended up paying a heft fine.
If you do end up with a gay dog (Geri Halliwell says her dogs are gay, while Pudsey from Britain’s Got Talent has also apparently got a boyfriend), we know just the place to send them away for a naughty weekend. The owners of the Gay Dog Boarding Kennels and Cattery in Hampshire have been looking after pets for over 50 years.
And thanks to webcams, your pervy pets can even peruse before going “dogging” and cruise on the kennel’s website at gaydog.co.uk. Okay so in reality the cams are probably in place so you can check up on your pets while you are away on holiday, but for a horny dog pooch porn is definitely not to be sniffed at.