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    • 17 Dec, 2020

    Catching up with Sir Tony Robinson

    We are really fortunate to count Sir Tony as a Mayhew supporter and were delighted to have the opportunity to talk to him about his love of animals and his interest in our TheraPaws® programme.

    Actor, presenter and award-winning author Sir Tony Robinson famously played Baldrick in the classic television comedy Blackadder and presented Channel 4’s long-running archaeology series Time Team.

    What inspired your love for animals?

    We had pets when I was a kid, but it was only when I was approaching my middle years that I began to realise how extraordinarily wonderful animals are and that we shame ourselves if we don’t honour them. When my wife and I had our first dog, Winnie, a rescue Yorkie cross, it was love at first sight – even though she smelled pretty terrible for the first few days!

    Why do you think TheraPaws (our dog-assisted therapy programme) is so important?

    I was really pleased when Mayhew published research showing the impact of the TheraPaws programme in care homes. When my mum had dementia and was in a care home, I watched with awe as the old people’s faces were transformed every time an animal came into a room.

    I think now, in times of Covid-19, carers might think about how they could incorporate pets into the lives of the elderly to prevent their isolation from being so total.

    Do you think animal welfare is improving?

    I think we could do a lot better than we do now. One silver lining to the coronavirus pandemic is that a lot of people are realising how important good animal husbandry is to protect ourselves from future pandemics. That could be a great place to start looking at animal life in a fresh way.

    While presenting Time Team, did you uncover any evidence of the human–animal bond in archaeological records?

    Zooarchaeology is a fascinating area of study which is only just being recognised. There are examples worldwide of prehistoric humans being buried with animals. This used to be called ‘ritual’, but I’m sure love comes into it too, and my children’s book Pets explores this in some detail.

    Finally, it’s coming up to Christmas, so we have to ask – what are you wishing for this year?

    Our latest dog is a wonderful seven-year-old Westie called Holly Berry. She can’t see very well and often bumps into small trees if she’s not concentrating. My dream Christmas present would be for her to suddenly get her sight back when we’re taking her for a walk on Christmas day.

     

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