Those of you familiar with the Real Housewives reality series filmed around the world will have seen the UK's very own Cheshire housewives hit screens last year bringing us friendships, fights, dilemmas and heartbreak while giving us an insight into the lives of the rich and famous on our doorsteps.
Two of the ladies who formed a friendship during season one were Ampika Pickston and Magali Gorré. These two ladies bonded while sharing an opinion (or two) and we saw their friendship grow.
Ampika, the owner of Opium, a luxury hair and beauty salon, let us in on her life as a mum of one, while Magali let her Dutch spirit shine through as a mum to three boys and life as a WAG (her husband is Dean Gorré, ex-professional footballer).
K9 Magazine's Kim O'Meara caught up with Ampika and Magali as season two airs on itvBe this Autumn, to meet two big loves of their lives - their dogs.
Tell us about your dogs - we'd like to know everything about them!
Ampika: Bella's a 15 month old Staffy and I knew her before adopting her through the volunteering work I do at an animal rescue. Last year my big beautiful Rottweiler, Barney, died. He was 11 years old and I was distraught crying every day because he was such a big part of our family. I was debating adopting but I wasn't sure if I was quite ready for another family member.
At the time Bella was six months old and she'd been abused so she'd had a bad start to life, and I wanted to give her a chance with us. She's very cheeky and playful in her personality.
Magali: Lulu is two years old and a big part of our family.
I've always loved dogs and because we're part of the football world, this is the longest we've stayed in a country actually, we decided the time was right. I started to research what type of dog would be most suitable for our family and environment.
I wanted another baby, but I didn't want another baby, I wanted something better than a baby. Someone who could be a part of our family and we could care for, who would stay little (laughs).
Two of my three boys have grown up now, and I wanted my youngest son, Aidan, who is eight, to have someone he could be the older brother to who could be his soul mate. Someone he could be a friend to as well as learn responsibility and those type of life lessons you can only get from caring for someone, or something, else.
So I started researching dog breeds and it came back with breeds like a Jack Russell Terrier, but I didn't want a dog who could be that energetic, or hyper, but yet we needed a dog who wasn't too cute for my husband to walk, so I started looking at other breeds suggested and we came across the Cockapoo!
Photography by Kayte Evans, Popcorn Paws Dog Photography
After seeing them and learning more about their personalities, we decided we wanted a blonde one. We're all dark haired so we decided we wanted a blonde haired dog. We decided we wanted a boy as well (laughs).
So we found a breeder and went to visit some puppies knowing we were going to look at the blonde boy.
When we got there my son and I were looking at the little boy, he wasn't very interested and a bit chilled, but there was a black girl who was gorgeous and very sweet who was excited to see us. My husband decided she was the best one for us, and I have to say, he was right.
She fit in my hand when we brought her home and her breeder told me she wouldn't be bigger than an A4 piece of paper. (Laughs) She is, but she's just the sweetest girl.
Lulu has the grace of a Poodle, doesn't shed her hairs and she has the happiness of a Cocker Spaniel.
So she's very much part of the family, Magali. That's great!
Ampika, tell us about Bella's breed, had you heard much about Staffordshire Bull Terriers before you adopted her?
Ampika: I'd heard a lot about them and knew in the Victorian era they were called 'the nanny dog', but they get a lot of bad press and are often associated with dog fighting which gives them a bad name, un-necessarily might I add.
Has she changed much since you brought her home?
Ampika: Yes, she really has. She's much more confident now, she hated the car and hadn't really been outside much so didn't really like being in big open spaces. Now though she loves having space and confidence just oozes from her.
I've always only every had big dogs like Rottweilers and Dobermans before Bella and I'd always only ever had male dogs and you do notice the difference between boys and girls.
Last year we went to an animal yard, my son and I, with Barney and this bull reared up to go for my son but Barney jumped up and scared the bull off, whereas Bella's less demonstrative and thinks no one is a threat, she's really submissive and is a delight to take out for a walk.
Have you always owned or been around animals?
Ampika: Yes, always and I think it's great for kids to grow up around animals and learn to treat animals with respect and make the world a better place. I also think it teaches responsibility and commitment.
I knew from growing up with dogs that it was something I wanted to pass on to my son as well. My home wouldn't be complete without animals.
Magali: I had a dog at home for a while, but it bit someone so we had to rehome sadly. My husband had a Chow Chow and a cross-breed.
I've always loved dogs though. When I lived on my own I had two Burmese cats. Actually, I was told they were more like dogs than cats (laughs).
Ampika, in season one it came to light you volunteered at a local animal rescue, The Society for Abandoned Animals (also known as The Peggy Henderson Animal Sanctuary) when you took fellow cast member and animal lover, Lauren, with you to visit one day.
There were more than 200,000 dogs abandoned in the UK last year. As we approach National Dog Adoption Month, what would you say to encourage someone to consider adopting a dog or volunteering at their local animal rescue?
Ampika: If you're thinking about volunteering I'd say be consistent and passionate about what you're doing. It's such a rewarding thing to go and way to spend your time but if you're very busy and can't be consistent you won't reap the benefits. You have to build time into your life and it becomes like a hobby. It's such a rewarding thing to do helping dogs and learning how fantastic they can be given the chance.
Equally if you're thinking about adopting a dog, there are a lot of questions to answer, for example making sure the dog won't be left on their own for more than three hours and really thinking about whether you have the space and time for someone else. But if you do, you know your new dog will love you to death, be loyal and bring so much happiness.
Magali, you moved to the UK some years ago from Holland when your husband moved here to play for Huddersfield Town from Ajax. How does dog ownership, or the life of a dog, differ do you think in Holland compared to the UK?
Magali: Dogs are definitely a part of the family in Holland.
I love the active life you can have with a dog, walking them outdoors, and the relationship you have with them. Your new dog will love you to death, be loyal and bring so much happiness.
We're meeting you both today because your beautiful dogs, Bella and Little Lulu, have each just won a modelling contact with Urban Paws! Are you excited to see your dogs take centre stage and will we see more of them during season two of the show?
Ampika: Aside from our photoshoot, you definitely see more of Bella, the animal rescue I work at hold an annual dog day and competition where people can enter a small, big and large, weird and wonderful - basically any type of dog into the competition to win prizes. Lauren and I were panellists and Magali entered Lulu.
Magali: Yes! Little Lulu is firmly a part of the family Gorré.
Get ready to anthropomorphise with our next set of questions – we hope you have fun :)
Ampika, if you had to swap roles with Bella for a day, what would you love most about being her and in reverse, how do you think she would cope being you for a day?
Ampika: Well I think our favourite part of the day is the same. Whatever type of day we've had we all (myself, my son and Bella) climb into bed at night time for a love session which is all about cuddles. Bella slides under the blanket and we each have our own pillow.
And we'll ask you the same Magali, if you had to swap roles with Lulu for a day, what would you love most about being her and in reverse, how do you think she would cope being you for a day?
Magali: Oh wow, I think I would enjoy being her. She knows she's loved and has a special place in our family, she gets good food, she gets pampered at the grooming salon once a month and I think she'd enjoy being in my shoes for a day.
Being on the show she'll be an international superstar won't she so there's never a dull moment here. I sometimes think she'd think 'if I could write a book I could tell some stories...' (laughs).
How many nicknames do your dogs have and for the more unusual ones let us know the reason behind them? (i.e. one of my dogs is called Christopher, he has a limp at the moment so his nickname has developed from Chris, to Limp Bizkit to Fred – if you have any particularly funny or unusual nicknamed developed from a trait or funny habit, we'd love to hear about them)
Ampika: Bella has three names, including two nicknames. Her first nickname is Bells, which is just an abbreviation, but it's because she's sort of like a bell. If you come to our house, you know where she is because she loves to be around you constantly asking for fuss.
Her second nickname is Bella-Boo because we always play peek-a-boo like 'we're here' (laughs).
Magali: Lulu doesn't have that many nicknames honestly, she has Little Lulu and Little Princess because she's such a sweet natured girl.
I did nearly name her Pandora but couldn't picture myself shouting that to call her, can you imagine?
What three words best sum up your dog's personality?
Ampika: I'd say cheeky, energetic and loveable.
Magali: She's a sweet little thing.
She likes everybody although doesn't automatically trust people. She loves to be at home, if we go out for a walk I know she'll be close by because she's not very adventurous so she won't run off.
Someone once said to me 'if you ever decide you can't keep her, can I have her' and I took that as the biggest compliment because I thought that summed up what we see in her, in that she's a really lovely, kind girl.
For this question, we ask our celebs to match up the following people’s personality to a breed of dog, for example, Winston Churchill = Bulldog or J.Lo = Afghan Hound, Frank Bruno = Boxer etc. If the following celebrities and dog lovers were breeds of dogs, based on their personalities alone, what type of breed do you think your fellow global dog loving Real Housewives castmates would be and why...
Magali: I think she would be a lovely blonde Afghan because they're elegant.
Joanna Krupa from the RHOM –
Magali: I think she would be a long haired Chihuahua because she's beautiful but she can bite.
Lisa Vanderpump from the RHOBH –
Ampika: I'd say she'd be a Standard Poodle because she's very elegant, poised, cute and pristine.
Magali: I think she'd have to be a small Pomeranian.
Kenya Moore from the RHOA –
Magali: I actually think she'd have to be a Yorkshire Terrier, like Velvet.
Ladies, here are our quick fire questions, are you ready?
Tell us something no one else knows about you.
Ampika: If I could have a house full of dogs or a new substitute husband, I'd go for the house full of dogs.
Magali: Actually, I don't think people really know this but I was once a gymnast so I think people would be surprised that I'm good at that.
Which do you prefer and why?
Big dogs or little dogs –
Ampika: Big dogs – got to be!
Magali: I love both, it depends on what size of home and garden you have as to what type of dog is best suited because you have to choose the best dog for you, your family and environment.
Pedigree dogs or cross-breeds –
Ampika: I'd say cross-breeds because there's just too much emphasis on breed, style or dogs as accessories. At the end of the day, that's all well and great, but there are a lot of dogs in rescues who need attention and would make a fabulous pet without the stature or price tag.
Magali: I don't mind. I love all dogs.
Days off or days at work –
Ampika: Days off definitely!
Magali: I really like the best of both. I think if you can work and you're busy, but it doesn't feel like hard work, then you're really very lucky. I love what I do and know how lucky I am.
What is your current or all time favourite…?
TV show –
Ampika: I love Oprah on TLC, in particular 'Super Soul Sunday' which is followed by 'Oprah's Masterclass'.
Magali: I love the Real Housewives, it's my guilty pleasure. I'm thrilled I was asked to be a part of the show when it came to the UK, I know how lucky I am, and I get to play myself and be paid (laughs).
Ampika: I absolutely love Elvis Presley, in particular 'Memories' is one of my all time favourites.
(Great song, here it is for you Ampika)
Magali: I have such varied taste when it comes to music. I think Beyonce is very uplifting and I like Drake as well. I also really like the song which says 'wave after wave', do you know the one?
(We do Magali, here it is just for you)
Ampika: I love 'The Notebook'.
Magali: I always love watching 'Gladiator' and 'The Color Purple'. I also think 'The Last Samurai' is very pretty.
Describe the last time you laughed out loud because of something you saw your dog or another dog do.
Ampika: A few days ago my gardener was here with his gorgeous blue Staffy and Bella is obsessed with him, she absolutely idolises him. She follows him around constantly, and it doesn't matter what he's doing, she just loves licking him and being wherever he is. We say he's her boyfriend (laughs).
Magali: Whenever I put anything in the bath she just looks at it like she can't wait to jump in yet when she's had a bath and her coat is all wet and sticking to her, she just looks so ugly, sad, yet still obviously pretty, at the same time. (Laughs) I can't wait to get her out and dry her quickly.
If you could sum it up, what do you think is the best thing about being a dog owner?
Ampika: In Bella's case, being a rescue dog, it's giving her a loving new life and chance to find her place. It's giving a dog a chance to be part of a loving warm home.
Magali: I think you know what it is, it's that they're so loyal to you. Normally you would say that role would fall to a man but with dogs it doesn't matter what time you come home, they're always happy to see you. They protect you, make you laugh, will comfort you if you're feeling upset.
There's that English saying that if you feel sad, have a cup of tea because it's good for you. I actually think if you feel sad, have a cup of tea with someone you love, like your dog. They're everyone's friend if you treat them right.
Finish the following sentence, my dog is...
Ampika: ...absolutely gorgeous!
Magali:...the most innocent dog on earth. Not only pretty but kind and loyal.
And finally, this is always a tough question and often requires a fair degree of thinking time but….if your dog had the ability to speak and answer one question and one question only, what would you ask her and what do you think that she would say?
Ampika: I'd ask her how much she loves my son and I, and I think she'd say 'to the moon and back'.
Magali: I would ask her if she is happy with her life and I think she'd say 'yes please, but can I have different food or more perfume' or something like that (laughs).
I think really I'd love to ask her a question to know if she's happy and knows she's loved and has an important place in our family because everyone loves her.
Many Thanks Ampika & Magali!