Emma Samms: Time for your close-up, boys

Emma Samms with Chester and Willis

Emma Samms with Chester and Willis - Credit: Emma Samms

‘I can only presume that Chester resents having to share the spotlight with anyone else. I’ve worked with actors like that.’

I take quite a few photos of my dogs. Whereas my children complain if I ask them to pose for me, or worse, alongside me, my dogs have no say in the matter. I feel that this is an entirely fair arrangement considering that I take my dogs on walks, pay for their food and veterinary bills and occasionally have to clean up unspeakably unpleasant things when they are unwell. The least they can do is give me a nice picture to post on Twitter and Instagram once in a while.

The two dogs currently costing me a fortune and continuously compromising my social life are Chester, a large Labradoodle and Willis, a small terrier of unknown origin. Perhaps fortunately, they are not as clever as my last dog Sophie, a Border Collie, so they have accepted their photographic responsibilities with little negotiation beyond a handful of dog treats.

Chester seems to understand the concept of having his photograph taken more than Willis. He will stay in one spot and even look at me in a coquettish manner when I call his name. Willis, however, seems to be under the impression that his best angle is his backside and if I call his name, he just runs over and stands next to me.

Sophie, my border collie was in a different category altogether. A true supermodel of dogs, she could be instructed to “Sit there and look over there, no, just a little bit higher.. fabulous darling!”. Her higher degree of intellect meant that she would have an opinion about certain photo shoots and I most definitely have a few images of her rolling her eyes.

Attempting to get a photo of myself with my dogs brings further challenges. Willis looks at me and therefore (of course) presents his bottom to the camera and Chester acts up. Since he’s so good when he’s alone in a picture, I can only presume that he resents having to share the spotlight with anyone else. I’ve worked with actors like that.

Sophie, my above-mentioned border collie was not only a supermodel but a nanny to my kids, a guard dog and a friend. She was so well behaved that I didn’t even own a lead. The only blot on her copybook was an incident at a friend’s house, when I realised that she had been out in their garden for some time and I went to investigate. To my horror, I found her in the garage, snapping at my friend’s guinea pig through the bars of its cage. I screamed at her to stop, which she did, and I asked her why on earth she would do that? The look she gave me could be clearly translated as “Er.. because I’m a dog?”

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The poor guinea pig was physically uninjured, other than losing most of its hair, which was now scattered around its cage. Sophie and I departed in shame. Any enquiries I made in the future about my friend’s beloved pet and its recovery were made rather awkward by the fact that the guinea pig’s name was Fluffy.

Despite all the trials and tribulations of having pets, I couldn’t imagine living in a household without them. When I was growing up, my family had a dog and a cat. Actually it felt more like having two dogs as Clyde our large black cat (and before you ask, yes, the dog was called Bonnie) would accompany us on walks and generally behaved far more like a dog than a cat.

We also had some goldfish, the first of which came to us in a highly unusual manner. One rainy, autumn afternoon, my four year old brother came running in from the garden to announce that there was “a dolphin in the garden!” This piqued our interest, as you can imagine, and we rushed out to see what he was talking about. It was, in fact, a goldfish. Flapping around in a small puddle of water. Now, we didn’t have a goldfish pond, but our neighbours did. And we did have a cat. Putting two and two together, my mother decided that going out to buy a fish tank was an easier option than returning the slightly worse-for-wear goldfish to the neighbours.

Happily the goldfish survived its ordeal, committing my family to many years of daily feeding and monthly tank cleaning, but providing us with a gentle companion and a story to tell.

But that’s what it’s all about with pets. You put in the effort and you reap the rewards.

Follow Emma Samms on Twitter @EmmaSamms1 and Instagram @emma.samms.