We all know people who treat their pets like royalty. Perhaps we've overindulged our dogs, cats and other creatures ourselves. But the animal lovers in the Nat Geo Wild series "Spoiled Rotten Pets" take adoration to a whole new level.
In the first two episodes, which premiere on April 20, we meet pampered potbellied pigs, prize-winning ferrets, reptiles and a pup whose owner has turned her into a canine "fashionista." In the second two installments on April 27, the coddled creatures include Afghans, bearded dragon lizards, turtles, rats and a Pomeranian celebrating her "bark mitzvah" — complete with rabbi and lavish reception. Beth Stern, animal activist, author of "Oh My Dog," and TV host was eager to be part of this decidedly lighthearted look at pets and the people obsessed with them.
How did the show come about?
Stern: I was thrilled when I got the call from Nat Geo Wild to host a show where I was able to spend time with people who love their pets. A dream job for me!
How did you find the subjects?
They seemed to find us! Nat Geo put out a release that we were going to start production on a show called "Spoiled Rotten Pets," and the calls started coming in like crazy. I thought I was the biggest pet spoiler, but when I met the people featured in this show, I realized I don't even hold a candle to them!
You're not in all the segments. How'd you decide which to be in?
The producers decided for me. I have to say I was sad not to be in every one!
Do you have a favorite segment from the show?
I just loved working with Wilma and Pebbles, the two pigs. Pigs are so intelligent, funny and adorable. And the couple who adopted them were just fantastic people. They are so attached to "the girls" that they hadn't spent a night away from them in all the years they had them. I had the best time with the pigs. Now whenever I smell bacon I want to cry. Pigs are so smart!
Are there any animals you don't like?
No — although ferrets have a very unique odor — but they are super cute and cuddly.
What do you think of the owners? There's a fine line between spoiling and craziness — the rat lady, for example. Did you find her creepy?
I wasn't creeped out by anyone. I love how people have such love and devotion to their pets. I can relate, that's for sure, especially since I don't have any children. I put all of my maternal instincts into my pets. I personally don't think I'd ever adopt a rat, but you never know! How about the guy with over 100 reptiles in his basement?! I love how his wife is so accepting of his passion for reptiles.
What does your husband, Howard Stern, think of your pet obsession and the show?
He has seen some clips and it makes him happy to see me doing something I love so much. I'm lucky that he feels the way I do about all animals.
How many pets do you have at home, and what are they?
Our beloved bulldog, Bianca, passed away last summer. It was devastating. We currently have four rescue cats from North Shore Animal League America: Apple, Walter, Leon Bear and Charlie Boy. We adopted them as adults. We have become cat obsessed! I'm proud to be a crazy cat lady.
What do you do to spoil them? How far have you gone?
My cats are just happy to have a home. That's the beauty of rescuing an animal from a shelter. They just "know" that you saved them and they are so appreciative. But, Walter likes soft beds, so he has them all over the house. Apple loves toys so I buy her toys constantly. Leon Bear is 22 pounds and loves to sleep in bed with us. Of course, I let him sleep comfortably when I am often falling off the side of the bed. And, Charlie Boy is a picky eater and I open can after can after can of wet food until he likes one. I never let the uneaten cans go to waste. We have a feral colony living near us who I feed daily. I also spoil them with love and kisses.
How many episodes of "Spoiled Rotten Pets" are you doing?
We've taped six so far and we have so many people reaching out to us about featuring their spoiled pets, so I'm anxious to start taping more this summer. Let's hope people love the show as much as I enjoyed doing it, so we can continue finding the most spoiled!
What do you want viewers to take away?
I think people are going to spoil their pets even more after watching "Spoiled Rotten Pets!" And people will definitely relate to the bonds people have with their pets and realize it's normal and wonderful.
You're involved in North Shore Animal League. Why is it so important to you?
I've been the spokesperson for North Shore Animal League America for several years, the largest no-kill adoption/rescue organization in the world, over 20,000 adoptions a year. I love their mission and am honored to be a part of the organization. When you adopt from a shelter, you are saving a life.
Are you going to write another book?
When I wrote "Oh My Dog," I felt there was a need for a reference book for all things related to having a dog in your life. People ask me all the time if I'm going to write "Oh My Cat." I haven't had a moment where I was unable to find an answer I was looking for cat-related. For now, no cat book in the works. Maybe I'll have to write "How to Become a Crazy Cat Lady!"
Photo: NGC/Daniel Gibson