Wednesday, 11 July 2012, 8:00PM – 9:00PM
“She was so small I realised she was the size of a spoon, so I put her in a spoon and took a picture…I had never seen a dog that small.”
Beth Di Caprio
With over 22 million pets between us, Britain is undoubtedly a nation of animal lovers. And for many, it seems the smaller the pet the better. As Super Tiny Animals returns for a second series, the cute factor is off the scale and seeing is believing!
In this two-part documentary series we take a look at some of the world’s most popular miniature pets and meet the people who love and pamper them. From tiny terriers to tea-cup cats and dinky horses, these miniature animals are guaranteed to melt even the steeliest of hearts.
Dressing up our little darlings is nothing new, but animal accessories are now enjoying record profits and in 2012 it’s estimated we’ll spend £30 million on them, in the UK alone. For some the lines between the patter of tiny feet and the patter of tiny paws are starting to blur. Twenty-seven-year-old Lynsey from Kent lives with her ‘baby’ Rocky, a tiny chihuahua, who gets star treatment as he is pushed round town in his very own buggy.
Rocky has been named Britain’s Best Dressed Dog and Lynsey admits: “I was recently asked how much I’ve spent on Rocky so I tallied it up and it was just below the £3000 mark. Yes, I know that’s crazy but Rocky’s worth every penny.”
Lynsey’s affections for Rocky run so deep that she even shares her bed with him: “I know some people are like, ‘Urgh, you let a dog sleep in your bed’ but look at him, he’s not a normal dog.”
Across the pond, in New York, a growing social scene centred on super tiny pets has emerged and at its heart are the Doggie Moms. Erika, Ashley, Karen, Grace and Leslie are taking New York City by storm with their new reality show about the hectic social lives they enjoy with their super tiny pets, who prove that small dogs have become the new way to network in the Big Apple. Their devotion includes reading bedtime stories to their pooches but what else makes a Doggie Mom?
Karen says: “A Doggie Mom is somebody who treats their dog just like a child.”
Leslie explains: “When I’m talking about her with other people, I mistakenly call her my daughter. I think that’s ok.”
Last year, Louie the micro pig hit the headlines as Britain’s first performing pig. His owner and trainer, Sue Williams is co-director of a dog display team and two years ago she came up with the idea of training her miniature pig to see if her methods could work with animals who aren’t pre-programmed to please their owners. Louie soon became one of the display team.
Sue says: “When I go to the shows and the pigs come out, normally I get a double take. Once the pig starts to do things, people really start to realise the importance of this training and how successful you can be if you do it in the right way. They think, ‘If the pig comes running when she calls it, then my dog should come running when I call it too.’”
Some super tiny animals don’t just perform for fun. Over in Jacksonville, Florida we meet six-year-old miniature horse, Princess Confetti, who acts as a ‘guide horse’ for her owner Cheryl, one of only four working guide horses in the world. Cheryl says: “Confetti is trained to do almost everything a guide dog is trained to do. It’s very important for Confetti to be small in stature as she has to navigate me through doorways and crowded places, so small is best.”
Cheryl originally chose her because guide horses live longer than guide dogs. But she didn’t realise how Confetti would help her deal with her disability, by helping other people deal with it too. She explains: “It’s a very rewarding experience because people see the horse and they don’t see my disability. And it’s a very freeing experience. I actually forget she’s a horse until somebody says, ‘Look at the pony’. She is part of our family.”
Other miniature animals keen to have their moment in the spotlight include Ratatouille the snowboarding opossum and Truffles, the long-jumping guinea pig who broke the world record with an impressive 20.5cm leap.
Committed to her love of all things tiny, is 19-year-old Kayleigh who lives in a suburban semi in Oxford with her parents and a super tiny zoo of approximately 100 pets, many of which are rescue animals, including the unusual baby sugar gliders, native to Australia and one of the smallest marsupials in the world. Kayleigh says “Not many people can hug a meerkat whenever they want to or have a sugar glider flying around the room, so I am very lucky.”
Not to be outdone by their tiny counterparts, we meet some of the largest animals at the other end of the super tiny scale including Darius, the largest bunny in the world and his owner Annette Edwards, who also holds the claim to fame as the oldest page 3 model. Darius measures a massive 4 foot 4 inches and regularly travels from his home in the Cotswolds to make public appearances. Annette says “As pets, giant rabbits are a bit special. They’re cuddly, really nice animals”.
We also follow the heart-warming story of mini miracle Beyonce, the world’s smallest puppy born at a rescue centre in North Carolina in March 2012, weighing just one ounce. Beyonce was never expected to survive but against all the odds she was born with a heartbeat and nursed to health by Beth Di Caprio at the centre. Pictures taken of Beyonce made her an overnight internet sensation and were used in a campaign to help rehome other dogs. Beth explains: “We get many stories about people who have been inspired to go out and rescue a dog…a pretty incredible legacy that she’s created already.”