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Puppy love Lucy Kennedy shares highs and lows of raising rescue dog in new show Lucy's Puppy Problems

"When we first adopted Riley, I was like a new mother ... even her poo was cute"

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Lucy and Riley playing catch in the sunshine

Lucy and Riley playing catch in the sunshine

Lucy and Riley playing catch in the sunshine

Celeb mum Lucy Kennedy may be happily the other side of 'nappy phase', but now she's taken on an even bigger toilet training challenge after welcoming rescue puppy Riley into her life.

Snuggled up on the sofa for our snaps, the TV presenter is clearly smitten with her new golden-haired bundle of joy.

But the mum of three admits it's not all ball chasing and belly rubs since the adorable 'Springador' bounded into the family's home in January.

"For at least the first two weeks, it was like having a newborn," says Lucy of adopting the now seven month-old springer spaniel Labrador mix in the thick of lockdown.

"But at least with a newborn you kind of get to recognise their cries, whereas with a puppy, there was no way of me knowing.

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Lucy Kennedy relaxes with her dog Riley

Lucy Kennedy relaxes with her dog Riley

Lucy Kennedy relaxes with her dog Riley

"She would be asleep downstairs in the crate and I was in bed awake, listening out for any noises - she would fart, I'd be downstairs checking the crate, like ridiculous, just like a mother of a newborn. I was pathetic, actually, looking back."

In a break from chewing the furniture, Riley this week makes her television debut in a new documentary presented by her famous mum on Virgin Media One called Lucy's Puppy Problems.

And one such problem will also be very familiar to new parents out there.

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Lucy with her three children Holly, Jack and Jess

Lucy with her three children Holly, Jack and Jess

Lucy with her three children Holly, Jack and Jess

"Riley has a boy's name and she's very big so people say, 'He is beautiful', so I had to get her the brightest pink collar and I'm trying to teach her to be a lady," jokes Lucy.

"We had been thinking about adopting a dog for probably about a year and a half when Milo's Mission Rescue [in Wicklow] put up a picture of this black pregnant Labrador on Facebook.

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"While we were on the waiting list, I said [to Virgin Media], 'Look, I can go through this journey with other people', because there is a perception out there - that I would have had years ago as well - that a rescue dog is a damaged dog.

"I think it's important to show people that rescuing is a really good thing to do and you will be surprised who you would find in a rescue."

The one-off show, which airs this Wednesday night, looks at the good, the bad and the pugly of the upswing in pet ownership over the past year and a bit as families across the country spent more time than ever before stuck at home and going for "walkies."

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Lucy with Riley

Lucy with Riley

Lucy with Riley

Luckily, the Living with Lucy star reveals her two-legged babies Jack (11), Holly (nine) and Jess (four) are just as barking as her over the family's newest arrival.

"Pure and utter unconditional love," she reports. "They absolutely adore her.

"All my pals said to me, 'It will be you that will do everything', but it hasn't been the case. They're way more hands on than I was expecting, whether it's picking up her poos or bringing her for a walk. It's a beautiful bond.

"It is a massive, massive commitment," she confesses. "Like, she was a puppy for two weeks, I'm not exaggerating.

"We brought home this small little bundle who slept all day and even her poos were cute, and two weeks later, I looked in the crate, and there was a tiger: 'Oh my God, where's the puppy?'"

The feelgood documentary can scarcely be described as a 'return' to the small screen for the hard-working Dubliner, who famously got her big break as Podge and Rodge's latex-clad wingwoman on RTÉ in 2006.

Between a new season of Lodging with Lucy, Covid-proofed by relocating to a country house in Meath, and re-runs of the evergreen Living with Lucy on Virgin Media, the 45-year-old has hardly been off the google-box during lockdowns one, two and three.

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Lucy with Podge & Rodge

Lucy with Podge & Rodge

Lucy with Podge & Rodge

"I'm so happy that it's still as successful as it was when it was first aired eight years ago on RTÉ," says the host, who has famously bunked in with everyone from Katie Hopkins to Paul McGrath over five seasons.

"People just love it, my God, and I love doing it.

"I did love Lodging with Lucy, it was very relaxed. [But a return to] Living with Lucy is looking very possible. We all love looking into people's homes and if it's safe to travel, I will travel.

"Dream guests?" she politely repeats, as if she hasn't been asked a zillion times before. "I would like to live with Katie Price - and she was signed up for the last one. I think she is an interesting person.

"Anne Doyle, I'd like to live with her, maybe Mary Lou [McDonald]. In the world of sport, I'd love to live with Katie Taylor. I love getting a really good mix and also putting myself out of my comfort zone.

"I'd love Michael D Higgins - I could bring Riley for a play date with Misneach!"

Flat-out Lucy can now be heard alongside Colm Hayes on Classic Hits in the mornings after the double act moved to the station from Radio Nova.

The Ireland's Got Talent presenter has also just penned her third children's book in the Friendship Fairies series.

So how does she feel about Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle stealing her thunder by recently writing a book for littles called The Bench?

"Yeah, like, what a copycat!" laughs Lucy, who's been married to her own Prince Charming, businessman Richard Governey, since 2008. "It's a lovely thing to do, writing a children's book. I love it.

"I deffo couldn't write an adult book. But I have a series of children's books in my head. I suppose I'm in that zone with all my small friends around me the whole time that I can see things through children's eyes, so I'm in the perfect place to write children's books at this stage of my life.

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Lucy with hubby Richard Governey

Lucy with hubby Richard Governey

Lucy with hubby Richard Governey

"And I force my children to read my books," she adds. "I'm like, 'Read it!' and then they're in their beds reading it, and I'll nip in now and again and say, 'Any funny bits? Anything make you laugh?' They are my worst critics - they're so honest."

If she somehow can find the time, fashion-lover Lucy says she's dying to get an appointment at Penneys, but is more reluctantly in line for a vaccine.

"Look, I don't fancy the idea of any needle if I'm honest," she says. "I feel very nervous going to the dentist.

"Am I getting it done? Yes, when it comes to my age group, I am going to get it done."

Presenter, author, and now documentarian, Lucy's thriving career certainly doesn't need a shot in the arm.

One title she won't be adding to her CV any time soon, however, is "teacher" after the struggle of home-schooling.

"It's been such a bonkers year," says Lucy. "But the kids are great, they're very versatile, thank God, and happy.

"The only thing I do slightly worry about, like a lot of parents I suppose after the last year, is I was their teacher. Now, I repeated my Leaving Cert and didn't do much better. I do kind of think, 'God, I hope they'll be OK'.

"I know they're still small. [In five or six years], that's when we'll all go as parents, 'Oh dear, I wish I'd given that home-schooling a little bit more time!'"

⬤ Lucy's Puppy Problems airs on Virgin Media One this Wednesday at 9pm

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