Jess Impiazzi is a girl on a mission. She likes to spend her time with the people she loves, doing what she loves and after spending time in the Celebrity Big Brother house earlier this year, 2018 has been busier than ever for the actress.
We caught up with Jess after she had wrapped filming on a new horror movie called ‘The Seven’ to find out more about her two dogs.
Hi Jess, thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us. You have two dogs, Bella and Bruce, don’t you?
Hi! I do.
I know they’re both around the same age. Did you get them at the same time?
No, they are about six months apart. We got Bella, who is a Doberman cross, first. I think it’s a typical Doberman thing, but she suffers really badly with anxiety and has done since she was a puppy.
All Photography by Vivienne Edge Photography for K9Magazine
I have a Doberman cross too, Danny, and he also suffers from anxiety, so I understand what you mean.
Oh really. I tried taking her with me on photoshoots and things like that, but then she’d get anxiety there.
So, someone suggested that we get another dog, one which was similar in size and could bounce around with her, and which didn’t typically suffer from anxiety so we got Bruce, my Dalmatian and it was really the best thing we ever did.
With Bruce alongside her, her anxiety subsided.
How did you come to own Bella?
We got her from our vet. I don’t think it was planned but she had a litter of puppies.
I found out because I had bought my niece a Chihuahua for her 11th birthday as a surprise, with the permission of her mum of course (laughs). I wanted to make sure the puppy had all of its injections and everything first, and that’s how I met the vet.
I had the puppy for a week while I was doing all of that and it really made me want my own dog. I didn’t really want to give her away if I’m honest (laughs), so anyway, during one of our vet visits, she told me that she had a litter of puppies that had been born, by the sounds of it she had rescued the mum and then three months later, she had nine or ten puppies, one of which was Bella.
I know we’re doing a Wisdom Panel DNA test with you and Bella to discover what other breeds, aside from Doberman are in her genes. Have you got any suspicions?
Well, the vet thought there might be some German Shepherd too.
Based on her coat, I think she might be right but I’m excited to see what the results are! [We will update here when the results are in, we will also post them on our Facebook page here]
Bella pictured with her Wisdom Panel 3.0 DNA test
So, when you were looking for Bruce, what made you decide on a Dalmatian, size and bounciness aside?
Well, this again was fate really. I was getting my eyelashes done and talking to my beautician about Bella and the fact I was thinking of getting another dog.
She told me that her friend had some puppies. To be honest, I went round there and you know, I don’t really like the thought that someone would just have puppies in their house, but she was giving him to me, she wasn’t trying to make money, so I think they’d been dog owners and hadn’t really understood that they had to get dogs neutered, so an accident had happened.
Ah ok, I see what you mean. So, two conversations at the right time led you to Bruce and Bella.
Exactly. We’ve got the two most lovely dogs and fate brought them to us.
They definitely keep me on my toes. I was told Dalmatians can be hard work but he’s really, really not. He’s quite cuddly and sometimes he likes to go and sit on his own. When we go out with the ball, for example, he’s not interested really. He just likes to sniff everything. He doesn’t like to run, he just likes to sniff (laughs).
Bella pictured with her new Goughnut chew toy ball
Bella, however, will just sit by your side to get you to throw the ball. It’s like she’s electrically charged, she’s a live one (laughs).
After a really long walk when she’s worn out, she’ll sit by you for a cuddle, but before that, she’s all about the ball (laugh).
Did you have dogs growing up?
I did, we’ve always been quite a doggy family, to be honest.
My nan had a West Highland Terrier called Kelly. I used to love her so much, I was always at my nan and grandad’s house so that I could play with her (laughs).
She was so funny, she used to howl along to the EastEnders theme tune.
And when I was 12, Kelly had passed away by this point, I asked my nan if she would get another dog because I really, really wanted a dog. To which she said ‘Okay if you save up, you can get yourself a dog’, so I did.
I think to be honest my nan wanted to get another dog anyway (laugh), so that’s how we came to own Sammy. He came from a rescue and I think he was around three years old when we got him. Sadly, he’s gone now too.
Do you have any other family dogs now?
Yes, we also have a guide dog, Casey, in the family because my mum is blind.
Ah, ok. I know you’re an ambassador for the Guide Dogs for the Blind. How long have you had a guide dog in your family?
Well, my mum went blind around 11 years ago. Casey’s now seven years old, usually, a guide dog will come to you when they’re between 13-18 months old after training, so we’ve had her for around six years.
Bruce pictured with his new treats, Pet Munchies
When will Casey retire?
Usually, guide dogs retire around the age of 10. Normally the guide dog can stay with the family while the new guide dog comes along. In some cases, that’s not possible because some people’s circumstances or home might not be big enough to accommodate, for example.
I’ve met a lot of people through my mum and working with Guide Dogs and I would say most people do keep their guide dog.
In our case, thinking of Casey, she’s the apple of my mum’s eye and if my mum is out of the room, Casey watches her to see if she needs help or anything. They really have a special connection.
There is a really strong bond between a guide dog and a guide dog’s owner, so I think they prefer it if the guide dog can stay with their family. But if it’s not possible, then they will rehome the dog.
There’s a really long waiting list as well, where people can wait for a retired guide dog and sometimes even the puppy trainers want to rehome the guide dog because they will have built up a bond with the dog while training over the course or a year or so.
Bella and Bruce pictured on their new George Barclay dog bed
How do Casey, Bella and Bruce get on?
Really well. Casey’s obviously been bred to be quite docile and quiet, but when she wants to run around, she’ll run around with my dogs and we’ll go down to the seaside, so they can run around together.
But a lot of the time Casey just looks at them from her bed like ‘these peasant dogs’ because she’s a lot better trained than mine, if I’m honest (laughs).
You were on the last series of Celebrity Big Brother. How did it feel to star in the themed series of CBB, which wanted to celebrate women?
Yes, well, it came around quite last minute really. I found out three weeks before that I’d be going in. I don’t think I really realised how difficult it would be being in there because I’m a bit of a homebody and like being around my family and my dogs.
I’m very bubbly in the day but at night time I need my own space to recharge really and that’s something you really don’t have in there. I don’t think I thought about that beforehand and the house is actually a lot smaller than it looks.
I remember one day I was putting some socks on from my suitcase and Bruce’s hairs were stuck on them and I got really upset because I missed him, Bella and my family so much. I felt like I’d been away for such a long time.
Bruce pictured having a bath with PET HEAD
It was tough but I’m so lucky to have been able to take part in such an amazing experience and I met some amazing people, like Amanda Barrie, who has a dog called Coco.
I watch the show all the time and I think because it was themed around the ‘Year of the Woman’ there wasn’t screaming and shouting, because I’m not really like that and I’m not good at confrontation, so for me, it was the perfect series to enjoy the experience.
Because of the theme, there were lots of people in the show from all walks of life, which I think made it really quite interesting too.
Yes, exactly. I met people I might never have normally met, Amanda (Barrie) for example, she’s my idol and has had the career I dream of, and of course Ann Widdecombe, who I got on really well with and we still text each other now.
I met people who can add something to my life, people I can learn from. I was able to take something away from everyone I met, so it was a great experience.
And you’ve been busy since you came out of the show, haven’t you? Tell us about your new film, ‘The Seven’.
I have. ‘The Seven’ is a horror film which is about a ritual that took place back in the day and to reignite the ritual we accidentally all come together, that’s how the film starts.
I’m a bit of a horror film fanatic, to be honest, I read the script and I really wanted to be involved. It was full on filming, long days and hard work, but I loved every minute of it.
It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. I’ve trained at the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts and lost my way a bit when things went wrong at home, so to get the chance to get back into doing something like this, it was a dream really. I absolutely loved it. It’s been amazing and I had the best experience.
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Do you think CBB gave you the chance to hit the reset button after losing your way?
Yes, I really have a lot to thank Big Brother for. People got to see the real me and like I said, it gave me the opportunity to meet Amanda who has been in the industry for so long. She really believed in me and she gave me confidence, she told me ‘Don’t doubt yourself. You can do it, you’re really talented’.
Before I went in the house I was already enrolled at an acting school in Manchester, which I go to once a week, so I had already got back into it but I’ve never felt confident in myself and Amanda really helped me with that.
She kept saying to me ‘You’re not just MTV, you’ve got so much more to you’ so she really gave me a lot of confidence because I really believe that what you believe, you will become, whether it’s right or wrong.
So as well as people seeing the real me, I really learned a lot and Amanda still tries to help me now with my career.
Bella and Bruce pictured with their new GREEN Slow Feeder
As well as your acting and modelling work, I know you have a business, HD Female, which must keep you busy?
Yes, I am lucky to have a business partner who works really, really hard (laughs). He’s been run off his feet while I’ve been away.
The whole startup at the beginning was so much harder than I thought, but I think once you know you’re going to do something, you just do it, don’t you.
There’s lots going on behind the scenes but I’m so proud of where we are. The more we grow, the easier it will become and the more people we can employ!
Bella and Bruce pictured with their new Original Goughnut chew toy
It’s centred around leisurewear, protein powders and fat burners, isn’t it? That’s an exciting market to be in right now, I imagine?
It is. I think now more than ever people are health conscious. I know when I’m not working, I’m in the gym and trying to keep my mind active.
I guess with two lively dogs, getting exercise is probably quite easy, isn’t it?
Yes, true (laughs). If we’re not going on a long lead walk, we have a big field opposite to run around in.
If you were to swap roles with either Bella or Bruce for a day, who would you choose to swap roles with and why?
Well, I’d probably choose to swap with Bella. She’s so excited every day, I’d love to know what’s going in her head and it would be great to be that excited all the time (laughs).
Although thinking about it, I might already be the human equivalent of Bella. I do get excited quite a lot (laughs).
That all said, I’d love to be able to be chilled out like Bruce. The way he naps, I’ve never seen anything like it. I’d love to have his naps for a day (laughs).
What is it about Bruce’s naps that you’d like?
How often he has them (laughs).
Like I said, when I got him, everyone told me that Dalmatians were hard work, but he’s just so chilled out, he’s always napping. Everywhere we go, he falls asleep (laughs).
For this question, we normally ask our celebs to match up the following star’s personality to a breed of dog.
But we’re going to switch it around this time, so based on personalities alone, which famous people come to mind when you see these breeds of dog...
Dalmatian – Straight away my mind went to ‘101 Dalmatians’, the 1996 film so I’m going to say Jeff Daniels, who starred in it.
Westie – This is funny, I’m going to say the Queen. I know more people would say they’d associate a Corgi with the Queen, but I always associate the Westie with my nan and my nan looked just like the Queen, and she loved that.
Doberman – Vin Diesel. I think Doberman’s are always made to look like they're bad animals in films but actually, they’re lovely.
Jack Russell Terrier – Oh good one. Tom Cruise (laughs).
Reversing the logic, what breed of dog would you be and why?
I’d be a Dalmatian. Simply because of all the attention Bruce gets, all the people running over to fuss him, I think I’d like it (laughs).
Describe the last time you laughed out loud because of something you saw Bella, Bruce or another dog do.
During your photoshoot. First, Bruce headbutted me and then I was getting him to sit down and he doesn’t sit down normally, he sits down like a human with his legs out in front of him and then he falls back on me.
He will sit like it for ages and he does it when he meets new people too. I’ve never seen another dog do it before. He’s a strange, strange little man (laughs).
What is your current favourite…?
TV show – I don’t watch much TV, to be honest but probably because I’m trying to get a roll in it, ‘Hollyoaks’.
Album or Spotify Playlist – I’m listening to the soundtrack to ‘The Greatest Showman’ on repeat at the moment because I love that movie.
Film – (Laughs) No surprise, ‘The Greatest Showman’.
Place to be – Home.
When you’re away from home do you FaceTime a lot with your mum and your dogs?
I do, yeah. When I’m allowed my phone and it hasn’t been taken away because we’re filming anyway (laughs).
Who are your heroes (or idols)?
I’ve got quite a few. I love Oprah Winfrey, she’s such an inspiration and I’ve read a lot of her books. I admire Julia Roberts too, she’s had a career I really admire, and Amanda Barrie too.
What is one thing people have been surprised to learn about you?
I think sometimes people put you in a bracket when you’ve worked with people like MTV. I won’t have anything bad said about them, I still love them, but I think when people realise what I do at home, caring for my mum and the fact I had a full scholarship for theatre school and college, people can sometimes be a bit shocked.
I won’t complain about any of it because I’ve got to where I am now, but I think it’s the fact that I do have substance behind me.
Whenever anything happens to you in life, you can learn from the experiences, can't you? Becoming an ambassador for Guide Dogs, for example, and learning as much as I can from them is really important to me, not just for my mum but because I want to help as much as I can in return.
So I think the fact that all of this happened behind closed doors sometimes shocks people.
I see what you mean. What do you think is the most important life lesson we can learn from dogs?
When I got Bella and Bruce I became a less selfish person. They don’t care what you look like or where you come from, they love you for who you are, and I think if we were all a bit more like dogs in that sense, the world might be a better place because we’d all get on a bit better.
I truly believe that there are lots of life lessons we can learn from dogs, such as doing things we truly believe in and not because we expect anything in return.
Finish the following sentence, my dogs are…crazy, very loving and uplifting.
And finally, this is always a tough question so you might need some time to think about it, but if Bruce and Bella had the ability to speak and you could ask them one question each, what would you ask them?
I would love to ask Bella what goes her head so often and why she treads on my feet so often (laughs).
With Bruce, I think he thinks he’s a lot smaller than he is. I’m not sure he really believes he’s as big as he is, so I’d like to ask him what size he thinks he is (laughs).
Whenever anyone comes around to our house, if they sit on the floor by the sofa, he will climb up on them until he is literally on their shoulders and then he’ll just stare with his nose in your eye (laughs). I’d just like to know why he thinks that’s okay.
Many Thanks Jess![Originally published May 2018]