He moved house to give them a better quality of life and he’s turning work away to spend more time with them.

It sounds like something you would do for your children – but it’s Chris Packham’s dogs who get all his attention.

He is so besotted by them that he hates leaving them behind when he goes off to work.

Chris is best known for his knowledge of wild animals, presenting shows like Springwatch and Inside the Animal Mind.

But it’s actually domesticated creatures who have captured his heart.

Chris, who is appearing at the National Pet Show in Birmingham this weekend, reveals he is so attached to his pets that the premature death of one dog left him devastated.

He was heartbroken when his year-old black miniature poodle Fish was run over outside his house.

Eventually he recovered enough to acquire two more black poodles, brothers called Itchy and Scratchy who are now 11 years old.

As we speak, Chris is excited to be driving home to see “the boys”.

“I’ve been away from them for five days and I really miss them,” says the amiable 53-year-old.

“They are getting older and become increasingly distressed when I leave them for work.

“They are bright and very manipulative. Itchy especially really knows how to pull at my heart strings.

“If I do anything which might suggest I am getting ready for a trip, their tails go down and they start to mope, even though they like staying with the next-door neighbour.

“Itchy will sit in my suitcase and looks at me as if to say ‘take me with you’.

“If someone comes to pick me up, he will also leap into their car.

“You wouldn’t believe the looks on their faces when I walk out the door, it breaks my heart.

“Next year I have pretty solid work until June, but after that I am planning on taking it easier so I can be with them. I hate leaving them, I miss not waking up with them as they sleep on my bed. Taking them for a walk is the best part of my day.

“My previous dog was run over outside the house and he died in my arms. That had a profoundly traumatic effect on me.

“Getting Itchy and Scratchy pulled me out of a terrible place and now I do everything I can to enrich their lives.

“I even moved house to a place with a higher rent, for the dogs.

“Fish was killed in 2001 on quite a busy road, so I moved further out of town. But the lane still gets busy, with cars doing 60mph in a 40 zone.

“I built a fence but when they were outside I was always on edge, worrying they might run out. So I moved next door, which has a much longer driveway.

“I also fret about what will happen when one of Itchy and Scratchy dies, as they are inseparable. The two of us left will be a right mess.

“My partner Charlotte understands, as she has two pairs of tigers she has hand-reared. She inherited her father’s animal sanctuary which rescues big cats from circuses and so on.

“They are equally elderly and can’t be separated, so she worries about what will happen when one of them dies.

“I take Itchy and Scratchy with me to work whenever I can. When I give talks in theatres, they come and lie down on the stage on their favourite sheepskin rug.

“I would love to bring them to the pet show, but work commitments mean it’s just not possible.”

The National Pet Show is being held at Birmingham’s NEC for the first time. Chris will be in the MyPetonline Pet Health Centre over the two days of the show on Saturday and Sunday, meeting pet owners and signing copies of his latest book, 100 Things That Caught My Eye.

He will also be giving a talk in the Super Theatre on both days of the show.

His love of animals began at an early age – and he dived right in with the more exotic species rather than goldfish and hamsters.

“I started off with tadpoles and caterpillars, then I had a huge reptile collection of snakes, lizards and geckos.

“Then I kept kestrels and buzzards in a covered area in the garden, and every morning before school I took them out to fly them,” he explains.

Chris reveals he has one abiding memory of Birmingham as the place where he met the Bee Gees.

“It was one of my first TV appearances, on Alan Tichmarsh’s show at Pebble Mill,” he recalls.

“I had written a wildlife book but I was a bit of a punk rocker. I was sitting in the green room when all of the Bee Gees came in.

“They are the antithesis of my taste in music, but they were the nicest people ever. They could see I was really uncomfortable and I didn’t know what was going on so they came over to talk to me.”

Despite his love of the brothers Gibb, Chris says he doesn’t know enough Bee Gees song titles to slip them into his dialogue on the Springwatch and Autumnwatch shows.

He has previously delighted viewers by naming song titles by The Smiths, The Cure, Manic Street Preachers, David Bowie, Madness and The Clash in different series.

But he says: “I’ve run out of music ones really, as I have to do subjects I know a bit about.

“Because the programme is spontaneous and unscripted, I have to have the titles ready in my head.

“A lot of my music taste is too off the wall for Springwatch viewers – they are not going to get songs by the band Kitchens of Distinction!

“So last year I branched out a bit. I managed to name 32 of the most popular British sitcoms during a series of Springwatch, although The Rise and Fall of Reginald Perrin was beyond me.

“I did Oscar-winning films and managed to get Driving Miss Daisy in.

“I’ve also done war films and breeds of dog.”

It seems that dogs, especially his own, are never far from Chris’s thoughts.

* The National Pet Show runs at Birmingham’s NEC on Saturday and Sunday. For tickets, ring 0844 873 7332 or go to www.thenationalpetshow.com .