Growing up in the Pittsburgh area, TV host Beth Stern was accustomed to pets.
"My parents' firstborn was a rescued collie mix," she said. "We had guinea pigs, cats, baby chicks we got for Easter. We always had animals in our lives."
Now that she's 40 and married to radio host Howard Stern, the former Beth Ostrosky is as into pets as ever. The couple have four cats — "We've been averaging adopting an adult cat a year for the past four years" — and Beth Stern doted on her English bulldog, Bianca, who died last summer. The Sterns got the dog's name tattooed on their bodies.
"Our lives revolved around her," Beth Stern said. "We didn't go away for the last few years because she was at home and getting old. We put her comfort before ours. We hate air conditioning, but dogs need it, so we'd drive around with the air conditioning at full blast, and we'd be freezing and the dog was perfectly comfortable."
So Stern may know a thing or two about Spoiled Rotten Pets, a new TV series she hosts. New episodes air at 9 p.m. Saturdays on Nat Geo Wild, with numerous reairings.
In one show, Stern visits a family that owns two pet pigs that have their own playhouse but often live inside the couple's New Hope, Pa., home.
"How big are the poops?" Stern asks before going hunting in the yard. "I have to tell Howard how big the poops are before I adopt one."
She also visits a "reptile guy" who houses turtles, snakes and 100 more animals in his New Jersey home's basement. And there's also a meeting of Pup Scouts in Manhattan, including one dog whose owner has bought her pet more than 200 dresses, 100 toys and seven beds.
"She gets the better food, and I eat peanut-butter sandwiches," the owner says. "That's what moms do: You put your children first."
Stern, who previously wrote the book Oh My Dog and starred in programs on HGTV (Mom Caves), ABC (True Beauty) and G4 (Filter), serves as spokeswoman for the North Shore Animal League America. She said the people on Spoiled Rotten Pets aren't that different from her.
"I don't have human children, but I have pets," she said. "It's fascinating to see how far people go to spoil their pets. ... It's beautiful and heartwarming. Some of it is really silly, but I think it's fantastic."
Stern became a pescatarian in 2011 after releasing a rescued seagull on Thanksgiving morning, only to come home to a turkey on the dining-room table.
"Howard and I looked at each other and looked at that turkey, and that was the moment," she said. "There was a bird on our table and we'd just saved a bird. All I could see was my seagull in the middle of the table. I have not craved chicken or turkey since."