Louise Minchin on why pets have become part of the family

The popular BBC TV presenter who lives near Chester is delighted to be adding to her growing family...

Our life has changed in so many ways since our move to Cheshire and perhaps the most dramatic has been our growing menagerie of animals. It first started when we lived in London, and adopted a cat called Lala, who had been so badly bullied by another cat in her previous home, that she had pulled out all of her own fur. She was very happy with us and quickly grew back her glossy dark coat and spent her days lazing about, sitting in the sunshine and preening herself.

Soon after Lala’s arrival, my daughter Mia started asking if we could have a puppy. I really didn’t think in a busy city it would be a good idea, but after an endless onslaught of requests I eventually promised her that she could have a dog when she was 11. She was only four at the time, and I thought, after a couple of months she would forget. She didn’t, not for one day. Over the years, I lost count of the number of times she would remind me of that promise. So, when our move coincided with her eleventh birthday, Waffle, a bounding golden Labrador puppy arrived. She was followed by two rabbits, a couple of hamsters and about twenty very small fish.

That seemed to be quite enough to be going on with, until I happened to be at a pony rescue centre, Horse Sense, near Neston, and I caught sight of Muffin. He was the cutest, cuddliest mini-Shetland pony that I had ever seen. He was galloping around the field shaking his shaggy black mane, and was absolutely adorable and with lots of attitude. So what did I do? Asked if he might need a new home? He did, and so did his fellow mini-Shetland friend Hollie.

The adoption process took a while, as the charity had to make sure we could look after and care for them. By the time they arrived, in a flurry of tiny hooves, we were totally over-excited. Within two hours of being in their new home, they managed to escape by working out how to open the gate and were found by our neighbours safe and well, happily eating grass under their washing line. Since then, the gates have been reinforced, and they have proved to be real characters and a fantastic addition to the family. They treat me with a heady mixture of total trust and disdain which ensures I am utterly besotted with them and look forward to seeing them every day. My husband is hoping no more adoptions are planned.

I’m looking forward to...

This year I am going to try and qualify for Team GB in my age-group in triathlon again, and am looking forward to racing.

I’m not looking forward to...

Those freezing training runs in the rain and cold which I will have to do to have any hope of making the team.

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