Interviews

Adam and Katy Rickitt: ‘If You Don’t Have a Dog You Are Missing out on the Biggest Joy in the World’

Adam and Katy Rickitt are best known for their work on TV. Over the years Adam has built up loyal fans from his roles on ‘Coronation Street’ and ‘Hollyoaks’ in the UK and Katy’s firmly established herself as one of our favourite reporters on ITV’s breakfast show, ‘Good Morning Britain’.

We caught up with the couple in between filming to learn all about their two dogs, Rufus and Tallulah and find who rules the roost.

Hi Katy and Adam, thanks for chatting with us today.

I know you have two rescue dogs, Rufus a 12-year-old Australian Cattle Dog and Tallulah, a three-year-old Bulldog. From your social media, it’s clear to see how big a part of your lives they are.

Did you grow up with dogs?

Adam: I was born and raised in a family of animals. At one point we had four dogs, a horse, three cats and a budgie so we were quite an animal orientated family. Katy’s family had a budgie. [laughs]

Katy: We were never allowed dogs. When I met Adam, he already had Rufus so I got two bundles of love for the price of one.

How long ago did you meet?

Adam: Eight years ago.

How did you come to own Rufus, Adam?

Adam: Well, what happened was in about 2006 I moved to New Zealand for what was meant to be a few months, but I ended up living there for five years working on a TV show [Shortland Street].

It was the strangest thing in the world. I went to this foreign country, which is absolutely beautiful, but there was nothing there that looked like anything I was used to and it was bizarre being in a place where there was nothing or no one that I loved around. Everything was just so new.

Growing up one of my favourite films was ‘Mad Max’ and Mad Max had an Australian Cattle Dog so I was always saying as a kid ‘can we have one?’ and you just didn’t get them in England which only made me want one more, to be honest.

So basically when I moved to New Zealand I decided that I did need to get a dog. I needed my best friend back. Then I found out that the cousin of one of our make up artists, well, the cousin’s neighbouring farmer, had a litter of Australian Cattle Dogs and he was going to drown them all because he wanted their mum out working rather than weaning the puppies so through the make up artist, I got her cousin’s number and then got the farmer’s number and I told him I would pick the puppies up and rescue them.

It was about an eight-hour drive in total to pick the six two-week-old puppies up. I brought them home and raised them while working a full-time job. I knew I wanted a boy so I knew I was always going to keep Rufus, I found homes for the others and he’s been with me ever since.

When I decided to come back to the UK I had heard some horror stories about dogs being kenneled for 36 hours straight and not being the same dog again so I had to think about whether it was the right thing to do, whether it was fair to him. But in reality, I was never not going to bring him back with me. I’d have been giving up the best part of myself, my best friend.

His ticket cost four times what mine did and I’m so grateful that when I went to pick him up from the airport he came out, did a massive wee and then just looked at me like “shall we play ball?”.

Was it a conscious decision to adopt or more the circumstances of Rufus and his siblings?

Adam: It wasn't a conscious decision at the time to get a rescue dog, it was purely because I heard these dogs were in need that I ended up rescuing but you know, I am so glad I am. I genuinely think when it comes to pet adoption if you're somebody who wants a pedigree pet, you desperately want this one pedigree dog, for goodness sake, get in touch with an animal rescue because there are lots of pedigree dogs in rescue, given up by their owners for all sorts of reasons.

The one thing I would say about rescue dogs is that they know when they've been given a second chance in life and they are so grateful. Dogs are just the most loving, loyal, and just incredible creatures.

How did Tallulah come into your lives?

Adam: We got Tallulah in 2016 when we moved to Cheshire from Warwickshire, didn’t we?

Katy: We did. We’d talked a bit about getting a friend for Rufus, especially with him getting a bit older, we thought getting a younger dog might keep him sprightly. And then I went on a story with the Dogs Trust for GMB [Good Morning Britain] about puppies coming into the country illegally to be sold. When DEFRA stop the puppies at the border, the Dogs Trust take them into quarantine before finding homes for them. What tends to happen is that these puppies come over at around seven-weeks-old, when they should be at least 15-weeks-old, so they are basically ripped away from their mum, and a lot of them die from parvovirus and undernourishment.

Anyway, while we were filming we saw these Bulldog puppies in quarantine and we couldn’t touch them so I said to Adam “can we go back and see how those Bulldogs are getting on?” and that was basically how we got Tallulah.

I think we were never going to go and not come back with a puppy if we’re honest because we even took Rufus along with us to see how he got on with them. [laughs]

Adam: We both really fell for Tallulah and Rufus also responded to her better than any of the others, they basically ran away and Tallulah at the age of, what ten or 12-weeks at the time did that thing that dogs do when they semi jump in front of something to coax them into chasing them, so we just knew they were the perfect match.

Does she keep him on his toes?

Adam: Even though Rufus is 12 now, you wouldn’t know it. His dad apparently lived until he was 24 so as a breed, they are very hardy.

We kind of got Tallulah thinking she’d be something of a draft excluder, like she wouldn’t do much but we were wrong.

Katy: Oh my God, I always say she was supposed to be my cuddle with a gin and tonic but I tell you what, she has brought so much more. She’s just the most loving dog. She follows me around the house, she watches me put my make up on, she’s completely bonkers one minute and then she’ll flop down the next.

Adam: We do walk them both maybe an hour and a half every day so she’s very active, they both are. Although walks always take longer on Sundays because she insists on stopping to talk to everyone she sees.

Katy: She is very active. She’s not really a typical Bulldog, not like we see here. Because she came from a foreign country her skull is a lot smaller and her legs are longer.

Adam: We’ve been really lucky in that it’s actually a really nice marriage of the two of them. We always say he’s like the 18-year-old rugby playing son who will tackle anyone who comes near her because he’s very protective of his sister.

 

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It’s really nice to see the dynamic between dogs, I think you always see it evolve over time too.

Katy: When we first brought Tallulah home she had been spayed and had her nostrils done so Rufus was terrified of her because she was wearing a cone of shame so he spent the first week hiding from her which was awful.

My only pull back from getting another dog was really worrying about how Rufus would get on with another dog in his home because I didn’t want to put him out in any way shape or form at the end of the day.

Tallulah has gastric reflux issues from the operation where she just suddenly makes this noise and Rufus was sat on the sofa, looking like the most beautiful sort of regal dog, and so when the cone came off, Tallulah went in to have a drink of water, she slopped it everywhere and she ambled into the room, water dripping off her jowls, and she just stopped in the doorway and started making this nose because of the gastric reflux and hacked up so loudly that we just looked at Rufus and his face was like "what the hell is that?" looking in her direction. [laughs]

Adam: I have a video of the first time they properly played. It was honestly the nicest thing, I came down one morning and they were just doing it and it broke my heart because I was just like "oh my babies are playing". It was wonderful.

Katy: Rufus can sometimes act indifferent to things he loves and vice versa to things he doesn’t so we were so relieved.

I injured my neck in a car accident a few months ago so I couldn’t walk them at the same time together because they both pull on the lead so I walked them separately and jesus, I would never do that again. She refused to move and he just kept looking around for her.

We've just hosted the UK’s first-ever National Dog Adoption Day so chatting with you as an adoption advocate is well-timed! Adam, you worked in animal rescue for a little while after Corrie, tell us a bit about that.

Adam: The closest thing to my heart is animal charity because you know, I think the work that they do is just absolutely phenomenal.

I worked with the RSPCA to help them raise funds for a new £7.5 million pound facility in Birmingham and it was a real eye opener. It was the first time I met a dog fighting dog, its ears were cropped and it had probably been pumped full of steroids. It was 30 kilograms of pure muscle, it looked savage but it was the loveliest dog. I spoke to the nurses at the old hospital and they explained that they had a lot of Staffies in the area and they saw a lot of dogs come in as a result of dog fighting in the area.

I think you just do see it with rescue dogs in that they are incredibly lucky to get one wish, you know, they just want love because when you show them the love that any dog should have, then suddenly they open up. It’s such a beautiful thing.

I always say that these are probably questions you won’t have been asked before - and probably won’t be again - so we can have some fun.

If you were to swap roles with one of your dogs for a day, who would you each choose to swap with and why?

Katy: This one’s really easy for me. It has to be Tallulah because she has just got the most positive outlook on life. Tallulah’s life is simple. She just wants love, cuddles, attention and to be warm and I wish life was just that simple. I look at her every day and I just want to be Tallulah. All positivity, no anxiety. She’s just happy.

Adam: How would Tallulah cope being you? [laughs]

Katy: I think she’d take it back to basics.

What about you Adam?

Adam: I’d be Rufus. We’re quite similar, we both like to be busy. If you put his food down but invited him to go for a walk at the same time, he’d go for a walk. He likes to be active.

He also has a low bullshit barometer and I’d like that, to be honest. He genuinely doesn’t take any crap. It would be helpful to have him handle contract negotiations. [laughs]

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Do you consider yourself pet parents? I know some people hate the phrase, some people love it.

Adam: Yes, they are our fur babies.

Katy: Yep, we’re pet parents. Our dogs are our kids.

Adam: I feel so much sympathy for people who don’t have a dog or can’t have one because, or even don’t like dogs, because they are missing out on the biggest joy in the world.

Dogs are the best part of every single human being without any of the negativity. They’re loving, loyal and amazing company.

Katy: We haven’t been out on New Year’s Eve for years because Rufus doesn’t like fireworks. They are our lives.

As pet parents what do you think you do that embarrasses them, but you’ll keep doing it anyway?

Adam: I think Rufus and Tallulah are probably in a permanent state of embarrassment [laughs], Rufus really hates it when we sing. He really doesn’t like singing.

We ask all of our celebrities this question, it’s all in the name of fun.

Based on personalities alone, which breeds of dog come to mind when you think of these celebrities and why?

Katy: [Laughs, oh this is going to be difficult]

Piers Morgan –

Katy: I think he’d be a Jack Russell, he’s just talking, talking, talking all day.

Sarah Jayne Dunn –

Adam: [Laughs] Oh wow, one with a long flowing coat. I think an Afghan Hound, they’re beautiful and have such lovely hair.

Nick Pickard –

Adam: It’s got to be a Cocker Spaniel, totally.

Charlotte Hawkins –

Katy: She’s really soft and lovely so I would say a Labradoodle.

And what about you, what breeds of dog would you be and why?

Adam: I can answer this for me and Katy because we talk about it all the time [laughs], Katy likes to say she would be a Bulldog like Tallulah but I think she’d be a Shih Tzu, she’d want to do her hair and look all pretty.

And I think I’d be an Australian Cattle Dog because I think part of the reason I’m drawn to the breed is because I do see a lot of myself in their traits. They are absolutely crazy, incredibly loyal and hardworking.

 

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What do you think is the most important life lesson we can learn from dogs?

Adam: They have a very good barometer of what is genuinely important and what's important in life is being loved. You know, that's the most important thing in the world. To know you’re loved and to give love.

Dogs do live comparatively simple lives, but I believe that you can walk a dog and you can feed him well, but he would be miserable every single day of his life if he wasn’t loved and not able to give love. So, I think that’s the best thing we can learn: life boils down to love.

That's a good way to sum it up.

Finish the following sentence, my dogs are...

Adam: The best part of us.

And finally, this is always a tough question so you might need some time to think about it, but if you could ask Rufus and Tallulah one question and one question only, what would you ask and what do you think they’d say?

Adam: I’d ask Rufus if he can do the Russian dance, you know the one where you scratch their bum and they dance, I’d love him to do it every morning when I wake up. It’s literally the best way to start the day, it always makes me laugh.

Katy: I would ask Tallulah if she loves cuddles from us more than anyone else and I’d hope she’d say “of course”, rather than “I love cuddles from everyone!”.

If I could ask Rufus a question too I’d ask him “what are you barking at and how do I stop it?”. I’d hope he’d say “I’m sorry mummy, I genuinely thought you liked it.”

Adam: He does bark a lot, he especially doesn’t like it when people sing so he really doesn’t like carol singers.

Katy: Or the postman. When we moved here our neighbours told us he barked every day at 9.30am when the postman delivered.

Many thanks, Adam and Katy!

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