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Jase, Toni & Sam get festive with their four-legged friends

The Coast Breakfast team introduce the animals keeping them sane this silly season.
Jae Frew

When Toni Street suggests a Christmas photo shoot with her Coast radio co-stars and their pets, it’s an offer Woman’s Day can’t refuse. How could it possibly go wrong having two excitable puppies, a wary older cat and dozens of delicate festive decorations all together in the same room?!

Things get off to a shaky start just five minutes after Jason Reeves and his dog Ted arrive at Toni’s Auckland home, which she’s transformed into a holiday wonderland with multiple trees, barrels of baubles, tinsel, fairy lights, Santa statues, sleighs, stockings and snow globes.

“Believe it or not, this is pared-back for me – it’s is just a third of the stuff stored in the garage,” laughs Toni, just as Jason enters the kitchen, apologising profusely and carrying a soggy reindeer doll. Turns out Ted has already tried watering the Christmas tree. “He’s never done this before, the bugger!” Jase says.

“I don’t blame the dog,” jokes Toni, whose 12-week-old puppy Bear is on his best behaviour throughout our shoot. “I blame Jase – Ted’s got a weird dad!”

But Sam Wallace isn’t in a laughing mood when he arrives without his cat Dances. “I just don’t think this is going to work,” he insists, only slightly placated when Toni pulls out a platter of her Christmas baking, including chocolate bark, strawberries and Nutella truffles. “Oh, stop being a diva,” she chides.

“And the award for least empathy goes to Streety!” Sam replies, to which his colleague hits back, “I’ve got empathy for the cat – just not its owner!”

Eventually Sam is talked into driving 1km down the road to his house to collect Dances, who isn’t overly fond of the red and green ribbon we put around his neck. But we get our pictures without a hitch – not a scratch, bark or hiss in the few minutes it takes to nail the glorious main image you see on this page.

“That was a goddamn miracle!” declares Sam as his co-star’s Christmas playlist blasts out the speakers. But Toni isn’t so surprised. “I always had faith, Sam,” she grins.

Turn the page to learn more about the Coast stars’ cuddly creatures and how their families will be spending the festive season…

Too doggone cute! Toni’s besotted with the newest addition to the family

Toni & Bear: ‘He’s the best present ever!’

It’s not quite Christmas, but Toni Street and hubby Matt France’s three children – Juliette, eight, Mackenzie, five, and Lachlan, two – have already got their greatest gift, a curly-haired Cavoodle they’ve named Bear.

“We weren’t planning on getting a dog,” confesses the bubbly blonde, 37. “My husband was quite strict on the rule that we had to wait until Lachie was three or four, so we only had one newborn in the house, but the girls were desperate for pets, especially Juliette, who we call our little Bindi Irwin.

“She picks up all the creepy-crawlies and she’s obsessed with all sorts of animals, but she’s never had a pet and she was getting desperate, like, ‘Please can we just get a fish?’ We were going to get her a bunny, but then Matt decided we’d go the whole hog and get a dog!”

Toni describes her new fur baby as “really cuddly and calm but very needy”, adding, “When I leave the house, he looks at me a squeaks, like he’s saying, ‘Please don’t leave me!’ I talk back to him like he’s human, saying, ‘I’m only going to be away for half an hour, Bear-Bear!’ It’s like he’s been with us forever.”

While Bear has nibbled on the branch of one of Toni’s Christmas trees, he hasn’t attacked any baubles and he was very well-behaved when the family posed for a photo in their holiday pyjamas. She smiles, “He had his PJs on too and he stared directly at the camera – he knows how to pose. I think he’s into Christmas because he knows how much his mum loves it!”

Toni’s obsession with the festive season comes from her mum Wendy, “who always made a big deal about it when we were young”. She adds, “It was just the best time of the year and I love sharing that magic with my kids. I like to celebrate early because otherwise you get a bit disappointed if you pin all your hopes on one day. I want it to be a journey from halfway through November to the end of the year. And this year, of all years, why wouldn’t you celebrate? You’ve got to embrace the good times!”

This Christmas, Toni’s family will be spending two weeks on her parents’ farm in Taranaki, where she’ll catch up with her longtime girlfriends, including Lachie’s surrogate mum Sophie, and squeeze in some F45 gym sessions in preparation for anchoring three months of America’s Cup coverage for TVNZ.

“I don’t want to blow out over the Christmas season!” she laughs, adding that her family always eats waffles for breakfast on December 25 and that she’ll be contributing a Baileys trifle for lunch on the big day. “I’ve hosted the last two Christmases at my place, so it’ll be nice to have a load off and let Mum do the bulk of the cooking this time!”

Jason and Ted

Jase & Ted: ‘My pup is paw-fect!’

When it came to finding a family dog last May, Jason Reeves had his heart set on “a big black lab”, but he somehow fell in love with a West Highland white terrier and miniature schnauzer cross named Ted.

“They call it a Wauzer, which is a bit of an embarrassing name, but he’s got the perfect temperament,” says Jase, who has two sons, Max, seven, and Olly, five, with wife Louise. “The kids are awesome with him. They treat him like their little brother, although he thinks he’s their parent – when they get in trouble, he starts yapping at them!”

The “snuggly little guy”, who’s not quite two, has several Christmas costumes and has his own gifts under the tree. Jase says, “Ted loves ripping them open and running around with the paper like a mad dog.”

Who’s a good boy? Ted needs a few bribes before her’ll wear the reindeer ears!

This year, Jase’s sons were so keen to start the decorating early, they covered the indoor plants with tinsels and baubles until their dad finally caved and bought a tree. But they’ll spend the festive season in Hawke’s Bay with the radio star’s family.

“My mum goes all-out,” says Jase. “There’s a tree indoors and out, and she paints the windows with snow. It’s full-on festivities! I’m looking forward to seeing all the people we haven’t seen in a while, thanks to this crazy year.

“I’ll be cooking the lamb for the big day this year. I’m normally on dishes, which is safer for everybody, but I think my barbecue skills have improved enough that I can be trusted with the meat!”

Sam and Dances

Sam & Dances: ‘We’re both so grateful’

Sam Wallace’s cat Dances was originally a stray who he and fiancée Sarah Bowman found living under their house. The star recalls, “He was very shy and sheepish, slowly approaching us and then running away. It reminded me of the wolf in that Kevin Costner film Dances With Wolves, which is how he got his name.”

The moggy’s been in the family for seven years now, dropping slightly down the rankings when son Brando arrived two years ago. “But he’s still massively loved,” says Sam. “He was such an unhealthy cat when we first met him, but we started feeding him and took him to the vet, and it was clear he knew we were helping him. He’s shown us a lot of gratitude ever since and has the loveliest nature. There’s never been a single scratch.”

Dances enjoys his annual Christmas present of a toy rat stuffed with catnip and is grateful for the odd piece of ham thrown his way, although he’ll drop further down the pecking order when Sam and Sarah’s identical twin girls arrive in January.

Dances cuddles with Sam

“Christmas will be different from here on in!” Sam laughs. “I’m really excited about having three kids under three, but I don’t want to think about it too much as it’s a bit overwhelming. It’s a lot of responsibility to feed a family and make sure you make great decisions for them. It’s not something I want to muck up!

“It’s going to be a very, very busy time for us and there will be times where we get broken, but we’ve got family around to support us and, worst comes to worst, Streety lives just 1.2km away, so I’ll dump all three of them up here and see how she gets on!”

That extra responsibility was Sam’s motivation for popping the question to Sarah live on air on Coast last week. He tells us, “I’ve never been a marriage kind of guy, but this has really solidified our relationship, and I want my partner to feel secure and loved. All of a sudden, the importance of marriage has really dawned on me. We’ve put our lives on hold with work and other life decisions, but now we’re pushing play on the engagement and the wedding. It feels like life’s coming at us very fast and it’s wicked.”

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