Nancy O'Dell has a real gift for keeping life interesting -- and she's not going to forget a minute of it. The "Entertainment Tonight" co-host keeps plenty busy with the show, but at the end of the day, she's passionate about telling the stories of her family in her scrapbook albums. She's even written two books along with her friends at Creative Memories about the importance of not just taking photos but celebrating those photos and the stories behind them. In fact, her latest book, "Secret Ingredients: Step-by-Step 'Recipes' for Creating Meaningful Gifts" is packed with ideas for gifts that let the people you love know just how you feel. One thing we didn't know about Nancy is that she's a huge animal fan! Recently, Nancy sat down with Wendy and Lucky to talk about just that.
Wendy Diamond: Have you always been a pet fan?
Nancy O'Dell: Oh my gosh, yes! When I was in the first grade, I had this kitty I absolutely adored. Of course, as it turned out, my sister, Karen, developed an allergy to cats. When my parents told me my precious kitty had to go, I went into negotiator mode and suggested we give Karen away instead. To my cat-loving, first-grade brain, that made perfect sense.
WD: How did your sister manage to escape your plot?
NOD: My mom broke out the scrapbooks. She sat me down and showed me pictures of me with pet cats going all the way back to when I was a toddler. She validated that and told me how proud she was that I had always been so loving to them and she reinforced how important it is to be kind to animals. But then she pointed out all kinds of pictures of my sister and me. She made me see how Karen had been there by my side since my very first day and how she would always be there for me. So my kitty went off to a good home and I got to keep my sister.
WD: Happy ending!
NOD: Pretty much -- though I do still feel the need to remind my sister that I would never trade her for a cat.
WD: What about today? What pets are a part of your life today?
NOD: My biggest puppy pal today is my in-laws' rescue Yorkie, Butkus.
WD: Butkus, as in Dick Butkus, the great Chicago Bears linebacker?
NOD: That's our Butkus! My in-laws lived in Chicago.
WD: So, as a person who knows all about celebrities, I'll ask you: If Butkus was a celebrity, who would he be?
NOD: Hmm. Well, I suppose there's a little Dick Butkus in there -- he's got some attitude and determination. But our Butkus is way more protective than he is aggressive. He just follows Papa Z (my father-in-law) around everywhere, making sure everything's all right. No one messes with Papa Z while Butkus is around. So in that way, he's kind of like Taylor Lautner's character, Jacob, in the Twilight series. Butkus is our own tiny little werewolf!
WD: Clearly, from your work with Creative Memories, photos are important to you. Does Butkus get into the act?
NOD: Absolutely! My scrapbook albums are about capturing and saving the everyday joys of my whole family. In fact, in lots of ways, it's every bit as important to get the pets we love into an album or something that's going to keep them with us forever. There's not a pet owner out there who hasn't felt the loss of a treasured friend. An album lets us hold onto the good times. I've seen some incredible, touching, adorable books put together for pets -- because clearly they deserve it. These are unconditional, lifelong friends.
WD: My perception has always been that scrapbooking takes more time than I have to give.
NOD: Really it can take as long as you want it to. Some people truly love the process and they enjoy creating amazing, decorative tributes. But how long would it take you to gather up some of Lucky's press clippings and tape them into a scrapbook? Or, if you have a stack of snapshots, my line with Creative Memories includes simple slip-in albums -- you can just slide in some photos, add a few note cards that tell the stories behind those photos and you're done. You can seriously be done in minutes with something you'll keep for a lifetime.
WD: Tell us about your co-host, Mark Steines. Is Mark a dog or a cat person?
NOD: Oh I think Mark's definitely a dog person.
WD: Now, if Mark was a dog, what breed would he be?
NOD: Ooh, good question. Mark would be a golden retriever. Handsome, charming, adorable. That's Mark. He's very much a gentleman and a good friend. That's a golden retriever, right?
WD: Nancy, with all the Hollywood romance you cover, I have to wonder, do you believe in puppy love for people?
NOD: Oh yes! It's out there. You have that moment where you look at a puppy and it's just so cute and you want to squeeze it and love it. It's out there and it's powerful.
WD: What kind of advice do you have for people in search of puppy love?
NOD: Well I guess from my perspective, puppy love is more of an emotional crush or a platonic affection. So my best advice would probably be to be the big dog. If you want something real and lasting, slow down and look more for grown-up love.
WD: In your line, you get to meet a lot of celebrities. Who's your favorite dog you've ever had on the show?
NOD: That's a tough one. I think my favorite dogs we've ever had on the show were the "Beverly Hills Chihuahuas." So adorable. My favorite dog that we've NEVER had on the show I think would be Benji. Loved that movie when I was a kid and would have given anything to meet that dog. Didn't you love him?
WD: Oh I haven't seen that movie in years! Loved that dog. That's a true classic.
Photos used with permission.
The delightful Nancy O'Dell is a great friend of Lucky's and a great friend of Animal Fair. You can catch her nightly on "Entertainment Tonight." Check out all the Creative Memories products in the Nancy O'Dell Collection and her new book "Secret Ingredients" for great gift-giving ideas just in time for the holidays.
Follow Wendy Diamond on Twitter: www.twitter.com/wendydiamond