’Springwatch’ presenter Chris Packham reveals he has been overwhelmed with like-minded messages from people, since revealing his unusual plans for making sure he is united forever with his dogs.
Last month, Chris explained in an interview with the Times that his affection for his two poodles, brothers Itchy and Scratchy, dwarfed anything he feels for fellow humans, even including his girlfriend Charlotte (who runs a zoo, so is presumably more understanding than most).
Chris went further, revealing that he was so upset by the death of Itchy that, since Itchy died in 2016, his owner has kept his body in a freezer alongside his cottage in the New Forest. He plans to do the same for Scratchy when the time comes, and then, eventually, to have his own ashes mixed with theirs and scattered on forestland nearby.
“I am a pragmatist, a scientist, but beyond that I have a sense of the romantic. I want us scattered in the environment we have shared and loved together so that we can fuse in some other life,” he told the newspaper.
Chris wrote in his recent memoir how the affection of his dogs had previously saved his mental health when he suffered from depression, and even prevented him from doing himself any harm.
“The boys loved me so I couldn’t do it. They kept me alive. I owe them my life. I always will,” he said.
Although this may sound quite an unusual level of enthusiasm for his canine pals, Chris tells HuffPostUK that the level of sympathy and agreement for his feelings has brought out an unusual side to him.
“I have a small box of all the messages I received, which I’ve kept,” he says.
“I’m not normally a nostalgic or sentimental person at all, but they’ve come from all over the country, I even got one from France.
“I’ve replied to all of them. I sent them all postcards with beetles on, thanking them for writing in, not sympathizing but empathizing, because they felt the same way about their animals and they wanted to share that, and I suppose to offer some reassurance.”
Although he was touched by the response, he wasn’t entirely surprised.
“There are 8 million dogs in the country, and I like to think as many as possible are genuinely loved,” he explains. “A good number are, and a fair number of people think in a similar way as I do, and that’s what I saw. The combination of all the social media, plus the people who took the trouble to write, I got a lot of positive feedback.”
Chris returns with his fellow ‘Springwatch’ presenters for more nature-watching, when the programme moves to a new location of the Natural Trust estate of Sherborne, in the Cotswolds. Chris is looking forward to sharing his bottomless well of knowledge about our country’s wildlife with viewers.
“The joy of it is I have lots of information I don’t have the chance to impart,” he says.
“If I can get 20% across of what I think is relevant out there, then that’s great. It’s incredibly important. I can’t sit down and commentate on a badger emerging from its set and having a scratch, because so many people have done that before, I have to contribute something new. Otherwise I’d stop doing it.”
Chris balances his presenting duties with his ongoing mission to convince the country’s human inhabitants to protect our environment.
“We’re winning, but I’m very frustrated about the pace of progress,” he tells us.
“We have so many answers and ways of rectifying the problems. So when it comes to something like climate change, we know what’s going on, we don’t have all of the answers but we have enough to take sensible action and we’re not doing it. It’s the same for local issues such as hedgerows.
“The methodology is public pressure and lobbying and you only get those if people care, and the reason I think we’re making such progress is social media.
“The traffic we get just on our Springwatch Guides is enormous, we score very highly. Outside of that, the instantaneous communicability and shared ideas is enormously empowering. The key to our future lies in that communicability.
“Our job in ‘Springwatch’ is to get people to like it, love it, care about it. Outside ‘Springwatch’, our job is to galvanize that affection and turn it into lobbying. Our job on this programme is to make people care.”
‘Springwatch’ will return on Monday 29 May, and run to Thursday 15 June on BBC Two.