Soaps’ biggest pet star since Schmeichel, Ozzy, Maria Connor’s black Labrador, has filmed his last scenes and is due to leave Coronation Street this week in one of 2016’s saddest soap storylines.
The loss of Ozzy, who has been charming his way into the hearts of viewers over the past nine years, will be felt by his co-stars.
Samia Ghadie, who plays Maria said: “I’ve been recording one of the saddest scenes I’ve ever done in my 17 years at Corrie. We say a sad goodbye to a well-loved member of the cast.
“When I first read the scripts I was in tears so getting to film them has just sent me off. You may need your tissues when they air.”
However, the emotional effects will also be felt by the nation too and the loss of a pet is not to be underestimated. In a report* by Pets at Home, 40% of Brits said they would ask their boss for a day off work to grieve over the death of a pet.
Leading international psychologist, Wendy Dignan, who practices in Harley Street and Wilmslow explained: “We emotionally engage with dogs on TV as we know that they are more authentic than a person playing a part – especially a dog on screen which appears frequently and over a long period of time.
“People are emotional stakeholders of the soaps they immerse themselves in, so the loss of a dog on a TV show will feel surprisingly very real.
“Part of the unique attachment we form to pets – dogs in particular – is because we feel that they have ‘no agenda’. A dog’s love is given unconditionally and endlessly. Research shows that we view the bond with a dog as more authentic or truthful than those we form with humans. When people watch shows with dogs, we don’t have the same filter we do with humans who are merely acting, as we perceive dogs to be more ‘honest’.”
Dr. Maeve Moorcroft, Veterinary Advisor for Pets at Home, said: “Owners who experience the loss of a pet should take time to grieve and not rush into replacing their pet straight away. Allowing yourself to go through the grieving process is really important and if that means asking for a day off to grieve and make necessary arrangements such as burial or cremation then so be it.”
On a more positive note, the passing of a pet can actually prepare children for loss of people close to them in later life. A third of parents (33%) questioned in the study** said that their child’s experience of a pet passing away had helped them come to terms with the death of a family member or friend.
*Pet Report of 3,000 people in the UK commissioned by Pets at Home and carried out by ONEPoll 2011
**Pet Report of 4,321 people in the UK commissioned by Pets at Home in 2015