Jodie Marsh is a TV presenter and model who's career has taken her around the world as a documentary maker, exploring topics as diverse as body building, bullying and most recently, hunting.
Jodie is passionate about animal welfare and speaks up regularly to bring awareness to the many issues surrounding the well-being of animals such as the benefits of animal adoption.
A true animal lover, Kim O'Meara caught up with the star to find out more about those who will always have heart, her animals.
Hi Jodie! Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us today and for bringing two of your dogs, Rosie and Ralph to our photoshoot!
Hi! You're very welcome, I love talking about my animals (laughs). I have six dogs altogether, four are rescue dogs and two I've had from puppies.
Wow, they must keep you busy! Tell us all about them.
The oldest is Louie, he's a Bulldog and I think he's around 11 years old. I've had him for nine years and when I got him the vet estimated he was around two. Louie is a grumpy old man. He's always everyone's favourite (laughs).
Photos by Vivienne Edge Photography for K9 Magazine
Ralph is a Rottweiler and is the second oldest, I've had him for a little over a year now. I was told he was two years old when I got him but I think he was younger than that, maybe more like 18 months or perhaps even younger, because he's filled out so much over the last year.
I know that could be down to his lifestyle now because he has more walks and exercise, but he's got so much bigger that I really think he must have been younger originally.
Regardless, he's literally the best dog ever, he's so clever. I've said before that he's the love of my life [he's also the dog Jodie honoured with a tattoo which she shared on her Youtube channel]. He's more than a dog, I do think he's human (laughs). He's my best mate.
Ralph is the best all round dog I think. He's a brilliant guard dog, he's so protective and he wouldn't let anyone in my house if he didn't know them but equally, he's the most loving, soft, dopey dog in the house.
All the other dogs love him. He's such a poser, he knows how handsome he is (laughs). My little Wendy, she flirts with him. I'm sure she fancies him (laughs).
Sometimes Louie and Marshall have a bit of a fight, nothing serious but they push each other's boundaries having an argument and Ralph always breaks it up. He will literally get in between them and stop them. He's amazing, he's like a human (laughs). He's the perfect dog.
I can tell from the way you're speaking that he has your heart. How did you come to own him?
I rescued Ralph. I think part of the reason he was given up for rehoming is because he was uncontrollable. When he came to me it was like he'd never had any training and had never ever been walked, so because they never exercised him he was really hyper because he never got to burn off any energy and I think they just couldn't cope with him.
Since I've had him he's a different dog. I've trained him not to chase cars and trained him to do all sorts of little tricks and things. Now he gets walked every day and runs for miles. He has such a good life, I think he knows he has it good now.
I know you're a massive adoption advocate, which we love as we also run dogsblog.com, which is the UK's largest dog adoption site. Some people say that a dog who's been rescued knows, do you think it's true?
I do, I definitely think they're more grateful. I mean I have four rescues and you don't always know what's gone on in their past, but I think you can see it in their eyes or through the little things that they do that they now know that they have a good life with lots of love, a warm bed, good food and a home that's theirs.
Sorry, I hijacked you there. You were in the middle of telling us about your dogs.
(Laughs) That's alright.
So next we have Marshall, he's a black Pug and he's about three and a half years old.
(Laughs) He is the biggest nightmare of all dogs. He's not my first Pug, I had a fawn coloured girl before. When I got Marshall I got him as a friend for my other Pug so I thought I'd go for the opposite of her - black instead of fawn and a boy instead of a girl – well, I didn't know at the time but apparently it's a known thing amongst Pug owners that black Pug boys are quite a handful.
I'm sure I've heard that.
Well, I didn't know this until I had a few owners tell me about it after I'd got him.
He is, well, he's completely untrainable (laughs). He will not do anything he's told. Ever. He lives in his own little world and does what he wants to do. He's highly amusing and makes us laugh, but yeah he's a handful. You constantly have to watch what he's up to.
I mean, to give you an example, I love him to bits but if I say 'let's go for a walk', everybody else will fly out the door and he'll go and sit under the table (laughs). He will basically just do the opposite to whatever you say. I mean, going for a walk is his favourite thing in the world, and yet he'll go and hide under the table just to be difficult (laughs).
The thing with Marshall is you can take him out in public and he's good as gold and people don't know what I'm talking about and they'll say 'oh but he's gorgeous, he's an angel' and I'm like, 'no, you don't know what he's like at home'. Everyone thinks he's hilarious.
I was judging at a dog show up in Norfolk recently and took him with me. He was acting like the most well behaved Pug so it's like he's on the wind up all of the time.
He's very funny but I definitely wouldn't have a boy Pug again. I've definitely been put off of them (laughs).
Photo Credit: Twitter.com/JodieMarsh (L-R Ralph, who's had his new bed stolen by Marshall the Pug and Louie the Bulldog)
At nearly four years old he's not going to change is he (laughs).
No, and the vet said 'oh when you castrate him he'll calm down a bit' but no, that's not happened. He's just a handful all of the time, but he's cute and no matter how naughty he's been when you look at his face you just can't even tell him off.
He probably knows it too. (Laughs) He's just too cute.
So after Marshall, we have Jeff and Wendy and they came to me in March this year. On my social media they've become little superstars, everybody loves them.
They love their names and everyone loves how cute and scruffy they are.
Photo Credit: Twitter.com/JodieMarsh (L-R - Jeff, Wendy, Rosie, Ralph (centre), Louie (far back), Marshall)
How did they come to find their place with you?
I rescued them from a traveller's site. They were living there and I don't know what happened but basically, the travellers left quickly. Anyway, there was a barn on this yard and someone went to view it to rent it I think and in the barn, they found six dogs who had been left without food or water.
The only reason they were alive is because they were drinking out of a muddy puddle so they had this dirty puddle of water, nothing else and were basically emaciated and covered in fleas and ticks.
So I got a phone call, four of the dogs had found homes and there were two dogs left without a home. I was told all about the situation and asked if I wanted them and I just said 'yes' without even seeing them or knowing anything else about them. As soon as I heard they'd been left to die I just said I'd take them and I set off to get them.
Jeff's a dwarf Jack Russell so he's got tiny, tiny little legs and he's very cute. He's the smallest Jack Russell I've ever seen.
Wendy is, well, she's so funny and just adorable.
We thought she was a Border Terrier but she's actually a cross but we don't know what with, so we think she's a Border Terrier cross something. My vet thinks she's crossed with a fox (laughs), which is funny because she does look a bit like one.
Because they came together, they really are best friends and do everything together. They don't like being apart, I mean all six dogs have a bond and stick together, but for Jeff and Wendy, they have a past together so they have a close bond.
They give so much love, I think in part because they had such a crap life before, like when Wendy looks at you, she just gazes at you with pure love in her eyes.
But again, they've been quite hard work to train, although they're perfect now.
Jeff and Wendy had been left to run riot in their previous life before they were then left for dead, so even just getting them to come back to you, you know, when you were on a walk was tough, so I had a professional dog trainer come and help me for a day. I mean I have six dogs and I'm on my own so I need them all to be well-behaved.
How old do you think they are?
We don't know how old they are exactly because the very first day I got them I took them straight to the vets because obviously they were covered in fleas and ticks and I wanted them to have a health check and all the rest of it. At the time the vet said he thought Jeff was about a year old and Wendy was about six months.
In the best way possible, it feels like they've been here forever but in fact, it's only been about eight months.
So they were really young to have gone through all they went through in their previous life, weren't they.
Definitely. But then Wendy went back to the vets recently to be spayed and I said to a different vet 'how old do you think she is?' just out of interest because we don't know for definite and I thought it would be interesting to get another opinion and he checked her all over, looked at her teeth and he said 'hmm, I think she's about six months' so I said 'right, well they thought she was about six months when I got her and that was six months ago now' so she's definitely about a year so he said 'oh well I don't know then' (laughs) and that was that.
So I still don't know how old they are. I know they're young and I think Wendy was maybe between four to six months when I got her because she's grown a lot since then, but obviously being half fox (laughs) or whatever she is, you can't tell anyway because we don't know how big she's meant to grow.
And then there's Rosie, who I've had from a puppy. My whole life I've always said I wanted a Rottweiler puppy. I actually wrote a Christmas list when I was five years old, which my mum kept, and it said 'Dear Father Christmas, please can I have a real baby Rottweiler' (laughs) so I'd always had this thing in my head that I wanted one from a puppy. I bought Rosie from a really good breeder and she's amazing. She's only 10 months old and she's the same size as Ralph but she's still a puppy.
Being young, she's still learning so she's very, very hyper with lots of energy and full of fun, but also lots of hard work (laughs).
She's very dopey, Rosie, and very loving, but I do think she'll make an amazing guard dog because already she's showing that Rottweiler trait of being very loyal and protective of their owner.
Like today when we went to the Mutts in Distress rescue kennels to shoot, Ralph didn't bat an eyelid at any of the other dogs, he was very blasé about it. But Rosie was trying to bark at them as if she was protecting me so I think she'll be a very good guard dog.
What's your secret to integrating new additions to the group?
To be honest, people ask me all the time because I'm always putting photos on social media and I have cats as well, but the truth is I don't really know.
Any new animal who has come into the home has been accepted immediately and they've all gone 'cool, we've got a new friend' and literally that's how they are.
People always say to me 'my pet wouldn't tolerate another animal' and they're always asking me how I do it, but all I put it down to every time is that they all know they're loved and this is a safe and happy place to be, and there must be some sort of vibe that I give off and the house gives off that this is a good place.
I learn and take advice from wherever I can and what works for me wouldn't necessarily work for someone else. A lot of my animals now and previously have been rescues and I've always noticed, particularly at a rescue I use a lot in Brentwood, that they have a courtyard area with about 20 dogs and separately a big run for around 21 cats and they'll let the 20 dogs or in the case of the cats, 21 cats, mix together.
Pictured above are Ben and Henry, two dogs Jodie met and spent time with while at Mutts in Distress. These well behaved boys are dedicated to each other and need a new home together >> click here for details
So in your experience, with that in mind do you think they always find their natural order?
Yes, definitely. There's always a leader of the pack and I think in my case, my animals have always worked that out without any problems.
For me, at the moment and for as long as he's here, Louie will be the boss. He's been here the longest and they don't mess with him, and second to him is Ralph.
I think Jeff and Marshall know they're small compared to him so they've naturally let him take second place.
I am amazed by it and you know, when you have people asking you 'how do you get them to be friends' it does make you think about it but I don't really know what to say, we just let them mix together.
When I brought Jeff and Wendy home for the first time, for example, I introduced them to the others out on the patio. Within 5 minutes they were running around together and by that night they were all tucked up sleeping together.
There's been no secret or magic to it and I honestly can't say any more than that because I really don't understand it myself (laughs) but every day they form new bonds with each other. My dogs amaze me.
You mentioned when you were young you always wanted a Rottweiler. Now being a Rottweiler owner, do you think they're a misunderstood breed?
Well, although I'd always wanted a Rottweiler before I had Ralph I was still scared of them. Stupidly because I know because I've had dogs all my life and know a lot about them, but because I'd never had a Rottweiler I was a little wary of them. I mean if I saw one at the park I'd steer my dogs away from it because you do have this misconception about them, in part I think because they're so big.
The very first day Ralph came home with me he was in the kitchen and I'll never forget, I had a couple of friends there that day and all three of us were scared of him (laughs).
It seems funny to say it now because of the bond we have, but it's true.
Being a rescue, he wasn't a baby, he was a big boy but we spent the night a little wary and when I think back to that first night, I think he was just really happy. He had his tongue out, he was wagging his tail and looking at all of us with that Rottweiler smile, you know the one which spreads right across their mouth, it's a really happy face.
Within a day I'd fallen in love with him because he was so affectionate and soppy, and just so loving. It was like instantly he knew he was in a better place and the love he gave me in those first few days, well, I've never felt such a bond with a dog so quickly.
Normally it takes a while to build a proper trusting bond doesn't it, but with Ralph it was just instant.
As I got to know him and realising the training work we needed to do to stop him chasing cars, for example, I was so impressed with just how clever he was. He picked everything up so quickly.
Does he have a party trick?
He can open my back door at home both ways, so he can open it to let himself out and he can also open it to let himself back in. The door only opens one way so he pulls the handle towards him to let himself back in and he's learnt it just by watching people.
I honestly think that rescuing Ralph was one of the best things I've ever done.
Aside from your friends who met him on day one, how did your friends and family react?
I remember friends and family being scared of him when I first got him as well and I'll never forget something my dad said. I hadn't consulted my mum and dad before getting him and when I'm away filming in America for my TV show it's my mum and dad who look after my animals and basically they move into my home to take care of them.
I'll always remember telling them saying 'oh by the way I've rescued a Rottweiler' and my dad said 'right, well, let me tell you now I will not be looking after your dogs when you go away. Do you think I'm going to come and live in that house with a bloody great big Rottweiler?' and he said 'I will not do it' and I was like 'okay' and reminded him he hadn't even met him yet, but he didn't care. He said 'I am not doing it'.
He had all of these preconceived ideas about the breed and he really had the hump about it.
Fast forward to now, Ralph is my dad's favourite dog, he adores him and he wants a Rottweiler of his own that's similar to Ralph so he can take him to work with him because he's so well behaved.
That's amazing, it sounds like Ralph has that special something about him to be able to change your dad's mind to that extent.
I often remind him of what he said (laughs).
In the early days, I think I was in awe of Ralph. He's always been so receptive and I fell in love with the breed thanks to him, so it spurred me on to want a baby one.
I adore Ralph with all my heart and he's the best dog ever, but I did want to see a Rottweiler puppy grow up and I think as an animal lover you get cravings for a puppy.
There is something special about seeing a dog's character evolve from a young age isn't there.
I'm like people who get broody and crave another baby, except for me, I crave another dog.
I'll rescue dogs for the rest of my life, but every so often you want a puppy and I love puppy breath (laughs). Rosie as a puppy was just heavenly.
Photo Credit: Facebook.com/jodiemarshofficial
She's not yet an adult so it might be an unfair comparison at this stage, but have you noticed differences in the breed between Rosie as a girl and Ralph as a boy?
There's not a massive difference, to be honest.
Ralph is older and really intelligent, he's definitely in charge and all of the dogs (except Louie) bow down to him. Rosie definitely looks up to him and in fact, she's now learnt to open the back door too just by watching him.
The only real difference between the two is that she's a bit more dopey than him, but that could be just because she's still young. I've noticed it's harder to train her compared to him, she doesn't really take anything in properly yet but you know, I think it's probably just a puppy thing because she gets distracted and excited by anything.
But she's is picking up protective instincts from Ralph, she's definitely learnt from him that when someone walks onto my drive that she has to be on alert.
I've had delivery drivers spot them together and they'll drop the parcel and run off and I'm standing there shouting 'it's fine, they won't hurt you, come back' because they're just barking to say don't come any closer, they've never hurt anyone but I think it's the sight of them both together that does it.
Did your love of dogs come from your family?
All of my family, my mum, dad and grandparents all love animals but I'm definitely the biggest animal lover, in that they all love them but they've never been as obsessed with them as I have.
From the minute I was able, all I wanted to do was be around animals.
I remember being two years old and we were on holiday in Portugal. I was playing outside a restaurant with my cousins and some other kids while my parents kept an eye on us and there was this stray dog which went past us and I was really pestering the dog because I wanted to stroke it and it bit me. It's mad because I still remember it now so clearly, but I knew at the time that it was my fault. Everyone else was going crazy but I wasn't upset or scared because I knew that I'd pestered the dog.
So I learnt from the experience and it didn't put me off animals because I knew it was my fault.
My dream is to open an animal sanctuary. Not yet because I'm still too busy with other projects but once I retire from showbiz that's the dream and I'll take in any animal that needs a home to give them a better life.
I can picture you doing that.
You've mentioned your TV work. With over 20 documentaries under your belt, how did you discover a love for investigative journalism?
Well, I'd done a few shows for the Discovery channel. I'd done one about tattoos and another about body building which focused on changing my body and competing.
After that, they kept offering me more shows and I said I wanted to get into doing documentaries as an investigative reporter because I wanted to bring focus to topics I could raise awareness about and shine a light on.
So from there, I followed up on my body building with one about steroids and after that one about prostitution and I filmed half of it in the UK and half of it in Amsterdam looking at what really goes on.
They were the highest rated shows on the channel so after that they asked me what else I wanted to do and that's how it's continued.
That's really interesting. How do you choose what topics to focus on?
Well, I'm now an executive producer so I don't just star in them I'm involved in the production and making of the shows.
Each time we've been looking to do a new show we'll sit down and have a conversation about it, so we've done everything from child sex trafficking to drugs. My latest shows were about hunting and prisons in America so I spent 72 hours behind bars in America meeting female inmates who were in jail for murder, for example. I'd really wanted to do a show about prisons for a while but they weren't keen on the idea but after I'd explained why I wanted to do it, we did.
We do fun documentaries too, so for example after the show about prostitution which was quite heavy and serious, we did one about women who use male escorts and it turned out to be overall fun with a few serious moments.
Now it's at that stage where I can film the topics I want to know more about or which I think more awareness needs to be raised about, or we'll focus on a subject that's current or topical.
The drugs documentary, for example, was topical and had a focus on legal highs because there's a lot of people who've done them thinking they're safe because you can buy them in a newsagents in Soho, for example, but if you break the compound down you'll find there's just one molecule different between it and crystal meth so the documentary raised awareness showing how dangerous they could be.
It sounds like each show is a journey almost in that you learn a lot as you go along. Which show has been the most eye-opening for you?
I think my most recent one about hunting was the one which changed my opinion the most about life.
I've been a vegetarian all of my life so I went into it thinking I'd hate the hunters and their way of life but by the end of it I was good friends with all of them and realised that their way is much more ethical than buying meat from the supermarket, for example.
I accepted a long time ago that I can't turn the whole world vegetarian so once you accept that people do eat meat then you have your eyes opened and think that if you are going to eat meat then hunting is the best way to do it because it's more humane, kinder and more ethical than how some animals are treated under other circumstances.
So that was one that really blew my mind because I went into it thinking they were all murderers and I came out of it having made best friends with them.
Another really eye opening one I did about child sex trafficking in Cambodia. That was terrible. The show was called 'Jodie Marsh On Virgins' and it was originally about that, so talking about virginity and what it means. That then led us to Cambodia where parents sell their children into the sex trade as virgins.
It was really hardcore and upsetting. It affected me a lot.
Although you've done a lot over the years, from modelling to your successes as a body builder, do you think what you do now will surprise people who might have preconceptions about you?
I'm not sure, I mean people who follow me on social media know who I am and what I do. I think my fans have either followed me the whole time and have grown up with me, so they've seen my journey anyway, or they know me more specifically from the documentaries I've made and have loved those.
Although I've done lots of different things in my career, I actually started in TV on 'Essex Wives'. If there is such a thing as a talent for being on TV then I've got that because I've done a lot of it over the years (laughs).
I like to think I keep it interesting, I'm always reinventing myself.
Do you think social media is good for reinventing yourself?
Well, what I think it is good for is showing the real you. Back in the early days when I was glamour modelling I used to get a lot of stick from people just because they had this preconception about the industry and didn't take it seriously, but what they didn't know was that there was a whole lot more to me than just that and actually I only did it because the money was so good. It allowed me to buy my own house and have a nice life.
Social media allows people to see the full picture. If you look on my Instagram you'll see what my life is actually like and it's basically full of my dogs and my cats (laughs) as well as my home life in general, so there will be things I've cooked, because I love to cook, or roses I've planted in the garden.
— Jodie Marsh (@JodieMarsh) October 9, 2016
Do you have a motto you live your life by? And if your dogs had mottos, what do you think they'd be?
Well, I don't have a motto as such but my attitude in general to anything is whatever you do, give it 100% and enjoy what you do.
(Laughs) And for the dogs, oh god, let me think about what theirs would be. I'm looking at them just now all sleeping.
I think Marshall's would be 'just eat the food' all he wants to do is eat.
(Laughs) Louie's would be 'sod everyone'. He comes across as such a grumpy old man. He's such an angel, but his personality is such that he doesn't care about anything. He does everything on his own terms. (Laughs) Right on cue as I've just said that he's rolled on his back with his legs in the air.
Ralph's would probably be about how handsome he is, something like 'as long as you look good, nothing else matters'. He knows he's handsome and he gets attention when he's being cute.
Rosie just thinks the whole world is her playground so I think hers would be 'I'm so happy to be alive'. She loves life.
Jeff and Wendy just want to be loved so I think theirs would be about that and something like 'peace to the world' because they'd want everyone to be kind to each other.
If you had to swap roles with one of your dogs for a day, who would you choose to swap with?
Oh god, that's a hard one. Well, I'd have to say either Louie or Ralph.
What would you love most about being either of the boys?
Well, thinking of Louie, because he's so old now he just does his own thing. His whole life just revolves around sleeping, eating and walking and he literally is his own boss. He has a really good life.
Ralph would also be good because he's second in command. He's so clever, I've always said I'd love to be inside his head the most to know what he's thinking, what bothers him or makes him happy.
I mean, I know you can obviously tell when they're happy and guess at things on their behalf but you never truly know what they're thinking do you, so I'd love to be inside of Ralph's head for a day.
For example, something recently happened which fascinated me. One night last week an ambulance was called to a neighbour's house. The house isn't really that close but it's also not that far away and the couple who live there generally keep themselves to themselves, so we don't know why the ambulance was there or what happened.
Anyway, the following morning I opened the back door to let all of the dogs out and Ralph took one sniff in the air outside and then just wouldn't go out.
He sat inside whimpering on his bed and every time I tried to get him outside he would sniff the air again with his nose pointing in the direction of the neighbour's house and he would then run back inside, head straight towards his bed and curl up on it.
This went on for two days so I would love to know what was going through his head and what he could smell. We were all then obviously concerned worried that someone had died and that was what he could smell. It was so strange there was just no explanation to it so yeah, I'd love to know what goes on inside his head.
Of all the dogs, I wish he could talk. He's definitely the most intelligent and I think he'd have some stories. Although I bet Jeff and Wendy would have some horror stories to tell as well.
And finally, if you could sum it up, what do you think is the best thing about being a dog owner?
Well, I don't have any children so my dogs are my children and I honestly think dogs are the best thing anyone can have in their lives.
I know people with children would argue that kids are the best thing but unless you have children, I would argue that dogs are the best thing.
Dogs enrich your life in so many ways. They're amazing company and you never feel alone. They bring you love, comfort and happiness on a daily basis and can get you out of the house for a walk, even when you don't want to go.
They are the best thing you could possibly have in terms of company, laughter and love. They're more loyal than any human you'll ever meet and I truly think that they're the world's best anti-depressant.
I really think if you have a dog that you can't possibly be sad all of the time because of what they bring to your life every single day.
My dogs are my family and I do feel like they're all my kids. They mean more to me than anyone and if I had to choose between dogs and people I'd choose a dog every time. Their love is unconditional.
Many thanks, Jodie!