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Peter Purves, the legendary broadcaster, tells us about his favourite dogs and his favourite winter walks.

The first dog in our family was a Field Spaniel called Rusty. He was living in a pub in Derbyshire and my parents inherited him when they took over the pub. He was a lovely boy, although I didn’t see that much of him because I was away at boarding school.

Later, when I was working as an actor, it wasn’t an option to have a dog because I was moving around so much. But then I started as a presenter at Blue Peter and was given Petra, who was the first ever Blue Peter Dog. I’ve had dogs in my life ever since. Dogs are absolutely fundamental – they’re such a wonderful comfort to have around.

Right now, we have four dogs: two wire-haired dachshunds - Teddy who’s 13 and three-year old Bertie, and two Pekinese – ten-year old Lillie and Max, who’s 15 months old.

Full of character

Peter Purves with wirehaired dachshunds

In my view, wire-haired dachshunds have the nicest temperament of all the dachshund breeds. They’re lovely to live with. They’re the prettiest, too - I love their whiskers.

We’ve always had Pekinese. They’re extraordinary little creatures. They can be feisty, but I’m extremely fond of them. Max, the youngest one, dances for us. He stands up on his back legs, then he’ll sit in a begging position and hold it for two or three minutes.

For a while, we had three Pekinese and two Newfoundlands, which are such gentle dogs. The Pekes used to use them as pillows. Although the Newfies have webbed feet and are supposed to be water dogs, the youngest one would avoid the water whenever we went for a walk on the beach.

They were also notorious escape artists. At our old house, they’d find their way through a gap in the garden hedge whenever they could, and I’d discover them outside on the lane, with several cars patiently waiting for them to move out of the middle of the road.

Staying active in winter

Pekingese in the snow

At our current house, our garden is well fenced-in, so the Pekes and dachshunds can dash about and get some exercise.

But it’s always a pleasure to go for a walk with my dogs, whatever the weather. It helps us all stay active and healthy.

I particularly love going on a cold crisp walk in late autumn or early winter when the light is bright and the air is crystal clear.

Mind you, Pekes are funny in the snow. It sticks on their fur like ice and you can hardly recognise them!

Keeping going together

Whether you’re a dog or a human, it’s vital to keep going, which is where YuMOVE and iMOVE can help.

Before we started Teddy on YuMOVE at the age of 11, he was slowing right down. Now he’s quite spry for an old chap. YuMOVE has helped, no question. He’s a good age and we hope he’ll be around for a lot longer. If he decides to chase after something, he can run pretty fast, and I certainly can’t catch him!

Our older Peke, Lillie, takes YuMOVE as well. Her back’s not great and it’s helped her to be more mobile.

Meanwhile, I take iMOVE, which has been very good for me. I had a bad accident 20 years ago when I fell off a ladder and smashed both my heels. It’s known as a scaffolder’s injury. I’ve definitely got some benefit from iMOVE – it’s helped my ankles to stay more mobile. It’s great to find something that works.

Spectacular Suffolk

We’re lucky here in Suffolk because there are so many wonderful places to go for a walk with the dogs.

One of my favourites is Snape Marshes Nature Reserve, where you can see the most amazing birdlife, including marsh harriers and avocets.

We also go to Sizewell beach, where dogs are allowed all year round. There’s a shingle beach on one side or you can walk through the grass on the dunes.

Then, not far away, if you start at Dunwich beach, it’s a lovely stroll to the pretty village of Walberswick.

Christmas morning in the Lake District

Looking back, my most memorable winter walk is when we took Petra to Tarn Hows in the Lake District one Christmas morning many years ago. It was a glorious day, with snow and frost and bright sunshine. We took a picnic and some champagne, which made it even more amazing.

In the end, though, it’s dogs who make walks special and it’s dogs that help you stay young!

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