A Place in the Sun Presenter Danni Menzies Chats Dogs & Daytime TV with K9 Magazine
Danni Menzies is one of the newest presenters to join Channel 4's long-running property TV show 'A Place in The Sun'.
With a pedigree in property development and hospitality through the family business, Danni's interests in all things fashion, music and motors have seen her take the lead hosting motor events, interviewing backstage for Radio 1 and modelling for fashion magazines around the world, but a move into property in one form or another was at some point surely inevitable.
And so as the new series of 'A Place in the Sun' gets underway, Kim O'Meara caught up with Danni to find out more about her partner in crime, her dog Kinky.
Hi Danni! Thanks so much for your time today. Tell us all about your dog, Kinky.
I got Kinky after I lost my last dog to leukaemia. She was an Afghan cross Collie and she died when she was 7. I was devastated and really wasn't sure about getting another dog to be honest.
I started looking through adverts for puppies and being, at that time, very naive, as to puppy farming and that whole industry, I learnt the hard way.
How it happened was I spoke with someone who 'happened to be in the area' with puppies and I was like 'wow that's a coincidence, maybe it's meant to be' so they stopped by. Looking back on it, it was so clear that they had come from a puppy farm but of course as a dog lover when you see them you can't help but fall, especially when you see they're in need and want to take them, can you?
Photography by Jonathan Daniel Pryce
There were a couple of puppies and they didn't look in great condition, but Kinky was by far in the worst condition. She was a scrawny little small thing who was just sitting in the corner and honestly, I thought she didn't look like she would make the night so I just took her and we went straight to the vets.
They told me she'd obviously been taken away from her parents far too young. She had loads of tummy issues to begin with and she was so small, literally, she was the size of my hand.
Before she had her jabs and could walk on the ground, she'd come out with me and sit in the pocket of my dungarees.
I was so scared to leave her on her own and my dad always said to me that if you keep them by your side for the first three months they'll never leave your side so I kept her with me wherever I went.
It's hard to walk away when you see a dog who needs help. By sharing your story I think others can learn from it because there are still a lot of people who don't know about puppy farming.
I'm now a lot wiser about it all, how to spot the signs of a puppy farmer and that you should never buy from them, however, I couldn't leave her. When I did start to learn what had happened and who Kinky had come from, I was quite upset about it all.
Kinky's an unusual name. Does it suit her personality?
Well, she came into herself quite quickly after I got her and she developed a habit for, erm, humping (laughs). She particularly took a fancy to two of my friends, one male and one female. Wherever we went if they were there she was straight on them.
Initially she was called Kingsley but then once she developed this habit, it quite quickly changed to Kinky. She's 3 ½ years old now and supposed to be a Jack Russell but I definitely think there's something mixed in with that. She's quite a character.
You grew up in the countryside of Kenmore in Scotland. It's a beautiful area, I holidayed there as a kid. Have you always owned dogs?
Oh yes, we've had dogs our whole lives. They're a big part of the family.
My mum and dad have a black Labrador and a mongrel, and all of my aunties and uncles seem to have a black Lab at the moment. We've always liked a rescue dog so we've picked up quite a few strays along the way as well.
There are normally around 20 or 30 dogs at our family gatherings.
From the photographs we've seen it looks like Kinky's been involved in some of your modelling work, how did that come about?
Yes, that's right. I live in London now and these photos were actually taken by a friend for a brand in Japan. They loved her. Actually, she's been booked on a few jobs herself off the back of it.
Before she was old enough to go to doggy daycare I just took her everywhere so when I was doing more commercials for modelling stuff I went for a casting to do a fun shoot for the lottery and they booked Kinky as well. It was really good fun.
I also had another occasion where I was doing a shoot for Vodafone and they were running over so long that I was worried about her being at home alone so they sent a car with a driver and my keys to collect her and bring her to the studio.
She was really good, she kept everyone's spirits up all night. It was really, really funny.
You've had a busy year this year filming for the new series of 'A Place in The Sun'.
I have, it's been really fun and I'm also booked to film next year so it's very exciting.
How did you come to join the show?
Well, to be honest I think it was a bit about timing and luck. I think a lot of people say that who've been trying to do it for a while and then get a break.
I've done plenty of other presenting things but hadn't really considered going down the property route because it wasn't something that I consciously thought about, even though it's been a part of my life all of my life. My mum and dad are in property development and when they were building their business, I was always involved but I'd never really looked at myself as having enough experience but actually when it came down to it I realised that I had a lot more experience than a lot of people from naturally living at home and absorbing all about the family business.
So, someone got in touch and said 'my agent is looking for someone who's got property experience, have you got any?' and I said I did, so a few interviews later I was told I'd got the job.
So yes, it was a bit of luck and a bit of timing. I was getting to the stage of thinking 'am I doing the right thing?' (laughs) and then it happened.
I'm a big believer that things always happen at the right time and you know, maybe I wouldn't have been quite ready for it or in a position to cope with things like travelling and being away from home, because as a dog owner you worry about them don't you, but now I have a good network of people around me who I trust and love and can help me when I have to go away.
Without that, I wouldn't have wanted to do it so I'm very lucky.
Given how close you are to her, I have a hunch you must keep in touch with her when you're away filming. Do you?
(Laughs) Both boyfriend and I do. Whoever is away will always call her.
Kinky doesn't really get the whole picture thing but she will listen to your voice so if you call her and put the phone to her ear she'll start running around the house like mad wagging her tail.
So yeah, we do call the dog (laughs).
Moving abroad is a big decision, sometimes life changing. What should dog owners consider before relocating with their pets?
It depends on the situation. For example, if you're moving abroad to retire, for example, I don't think there are too many worries.
If you're relocating for work, one of the most important things I'd say is to make sure you've made the right contacts locally so you know if you're at work you have someone you can rely on to take your dog out.
One thing I would always say regardless of the situation is if you have an older dog always drive rather than fly them because it can be quite stressful. Younger dogs might not mind flying so much, but driving does seem to be the way forward for a lot of people.
Have you filmed since Brexit was announced? If so, has it changed anything for those who have been looking to relocate overseas?
Well, I've filmed five shows and had two offers made on properties and one property sale. The latter was only just recently, so after the Brexit result was announced and it didn't impact on her thoughts at all. I mean, we spoke about it a little bit but she'd always wanted to do it so it didn't really have much of an effect on her decision.
Of course, although it's happened we haven't filed to leave yet so there's always that bit of doubt over what will happen.
Where is the most pet friendly place you've visited and if you were moving with Kinky, where would be your ideal place in the sun?
Well, the French just love dogs. It's so beautiful and dog friendly so I think France would probably be most people's number one choice.
Now we know a little more about Kinky we'd love to ask you some more fun questions to delve a little deeper...do you have a motto you live your life by? And if Kinky had motto what do you think it would be?
Kinky's super intelligent and obsessed with balls, so I think her motto would be 'balls, balls, balls'. She always looks at you like she's saying 'where's the ball, where's the ball?'.
For me, I'll always give everything a good go but one thing I've always taken from my mum is a bit of a Scottish one and it's 'what's for you won't go by you'.
Describe the last time Kinky made you laugh out loud.
(Laughs) Well, honestly she really does make me laugh every day but the last time I really wet myself laughing was when I looked after a friend's dog called Bam Bam.
Kinky always has a bowl of food down and she'll nibble throughout the day but never finishes it so throughout the day there's always food there she can just pick at it before she gets a bit of extra meat at night time.
Anyway, on the day I was looking after Bam Bam I put an extra bowl of food down but hadn't really thought it through.
I had to go out and when I got home Bam Bam was sitting at the side and Kinky was sprawled out on the sofa, on her back with her tummy bulging out and I discovered that she'd gone through and eaten every single bit of food from both of the bowls.
She never eats that much so she'd obviously gone through and thought 'it's mine' and eaten it all. Normally when I get home she'll come running towards me saying 'hi mum', but this time she didn't even move. She just lifted up her head, looked at me and then slowly flopped back down.
She really is funny, though. At night time when you turn the light off, you'll suddenly just feel her landing on the bed with a thump and she'll push the covers up with her nose, get under and crawl to the bottom to lie down.
Something else she does that always makes me laugh is when I lie with my head on my boyfriend's shoulder she'll come and mirror exactly what I'm going on the opposite side. So I always think she's sitting there thinking 'he's my boyfriend, get off mum'.
This is a question we're sure you'll never have been asked before (but you might have thought about, don't worry we won't judge you) so we have to know, if you were matching your fellow 'A Place in The Sun' presenters to breeds of dogs what can you most see them as...
Jasmine Harman (fellow dog lover and past K9 Magazine interviewee) – I think she'd be a Golden Retriever because they're always so friendly and she comes across so nice on TV.
Jonnie Irwin – I think he'd be a Welsh Terrier.
Sara Damergi (fellow dog owner) –I think she'd be a Cocker Spaniel. [That's a pretty good shout, she actually owns a Cockapoo!]
Ben Hillman – A Pug, I'm saying that partly because I want to wind him up (laughs).
Scarlette Douglas – I think she'd be a fluffy Poodle.
If you could sum it up, what do you think is the best thing about being a dog owner?
They're just your best friend, aren't they. Your dog is the only thing in the world who will love you more than they love themselves. That's pretty amazing in itself.
And finally, this is always a tough question but if Kinky had the ability to talk and answer one question and one question only, what would you ask her?
That's such a hard question. I mean I could ask her about Andy, my boyfriend, and whether she knows he's my boyfriend (laughs).
Actually I'd love to know if she has a grasp of time so I'd ask her 'when I'm gone do you know how long I'm gone for?' because they say dogs have very good natural body clock, like they know when it's tea time, and although I never leave her alone for very long, I always worry about whether she knows how long she's been left for so I'd probably ask her if she has a grasp of time.
Many thanks, Danni!