Clare Balding tells Graham Norton about her new book Isle of Dogs

Virgin Radio

14 Oct 2023, 14:58

Clare Balding joined The Graham Norton Radio Show with Waitrose to talk about her brand-new book and the dogs that inspired it.

Sports journalist Clare Balding has swapped being behind the cameras for travelling around the country and meeting lots of dogs, in preparation for her latest book.

The 52-year-old joined The Graham Norton Radio Show with Waitrose this morning (14th October) to discuss her brand-new book, Isle of Dogs.

When asked about some of the most impressive dogs she met, Balding recalled her visit to a charity called Dogs For Good: "They breed their own dogs, they're all retriever labrador crosses, and they train them to do specific things.

"So they can either help somebody who needs physical assistance, they can put stuff in the washing machine, they can help them get dressed, they can open doors, they can push lift buttons, pick up things if you drop them, but also give an individual confidence."

The presenter continued: "I went to see puppy training and the first thing they do is this sort of socialisation and these are little fat puppies that just run around [and] are thrilled to see each other because lots of them are brothers and sisters, so you can imagine they're giddy.

"And there was one called Schuey, named after Michael Schumacher, who was just so cool.

"He was the coolest puppy in the room, just sat there going, ‘Yeah, I know, I'm special.’

"He was very impressive," she added. "He could do a multitude of things. I think, basically, he could take your finals for you."

Talking about the assistance dogs she met, the author explained: "When the harness goes on, they know they're in work mode. And when the harness comes off, they relax.

"Did you see that lovely programme Martin Clunes did that was on the other night about Laura, the guide dog who was retiring?

“He [adopted her] and as soon as her harness [came] off, she [knew] that [was] it. The harness never needs to go back on again, and therefore [she's] not in work mode.

"I'm not like that,” she joked. “Are you like that?

"The discipline of writing. I wish I had a harness [to help with that]. Maybe that's what I should do, put on a little hat or something.

"[At school], I used to wear a thinking hat," Balding revealed. “I was into bucket hats way before they were fashionable.

"I'd put this bucket hat on and that would help me. I had a theory that [it] would keep all the thoughts in my brain."

The TV presenter also told Norton that writing Isle of Dogs helped her deal with the loss of her terrier, Archie, in lockdown.

Reflecting on that time in her life, Balding said: “I spoke to you and actually you said something that really moved me which is, that decision that you make to take your dog to the vet is the last really kind act you do for them.

"So I keep repeating that to everyone, I say Graham Norton told me [this]."

Isle of Dogs by Clare Balding is available to buy in bookstores now.

Listen to The Graham Norton Radio Show every Saturday AND Sunday from 9.30am on Virgin Radio or catch up on-demand here.