Rolling on the grass with three excited dogs leaping on top of her, Brodie Kane is in her element. "This is my dream!" she squeals, wrapping her arms around one of the adorable pooches at our photoshoot.
It's a while since she spent time with a four-legged friend and Brodie can't help but think of her own dog Connor, who she farewelled back in February, when she left Christchurch for a new life in Auckland.
The border collie-cross is happy at home by the beach with Brodie's mum Jo, but the effervescent broadcaster admits she misses her family pet more than she ever could have imagined.
"Leaving him was definitely the hardest part about moving away," says Brodie, who's just days away from taking to the stage on Dancing With The Stars NZ on 24 April. "Everyone asks how I'm coping without Mum and Dad, and I'm like, 'I'm fine – it's the dog I'm missing!'"
The former Breakfast and Fair Go reporter is talking to us on a break from her gruelling dance rehearsals. Partnered with professional Enrique Johns, the 35-year-old has been training three to five hours a day in preparation for the hit Three show. She's loving it, Brodie says, but nerves are seriously building.
"Imagine if I get up there on the night and forget my moves or stuff it right up!" she muses. "That's the sort of thing I'm worrying about right now. I go to bed with the songs in my head and my brain is constantly running through the moves. It's all-encompassing."
While some stars battle with the fitness required for ballroom dancing, that was never going to be a problem for this regular long-distance runner, kayaker and cyclist. It's the mind work that's the biggest challenge.
"Connecting the brain and the body is the hardest part," confesses Brodie. "I hear Enrique's instructions and understand what I'm meant to be doing, but the feet don't seem to get the message! I get very frustrated. It's fun, but learning something completely new and trying not to throw my toys in the process is hard."
Laughing, Brodie admits she's had one tantrum, involving a sneaker thrown across the dance studio. "I had to take some deep breaths, tell myself to grow up and apologise to Enrique. I told him that he's now officially seen me at my worst. He was so kind, though. He said, 'Is that it? That's your worst?' I'm so lucky to have such a patient partner."
There's no doubt she'll give it her all, especially as she's chosen Assistance Dogs NZ Trust as her DWTS charity, hence our furry photoshoot. Brodie is determined to do her best for the organisation, which breeds and trains canines to help Kiwis with disabilities.
"I've worked with these guys for a while now and they're incredible," she gushes. "I've seen children who were too scared and stressed to leave the house suddenly able to go to the movies or the shops with the support of a dog. It's life-changing for them and their families."
Taking part on DWTS is a joy for Brodie, who, like many of us, has experienced uncertainty and change during the pandemic. The former Hits host was devastated when she was made redundant from her radio job at the start of 2020.
Two years on, though, with her own media company and several popular podcasts, she couldn't be happier. "It's amazing how something like a redundancy can shake things up in a good way," says Brodie. "I'm CEO, CFO and head of HR now. I only have to ask myself if I want to take leave!"
Brodie's currently living with friends on the North Shore and will soon decide if the move to Auckland is permanent. "It's definitely where the work opportunities are, so it makes sense to be here, but leaving was really hard," she confesses.
"Mum drove up with me, which was lovely, but I just cried and cried when I said goodbye to my dad Murray and my dog while I loaded up my car with my bike and kayak. It wasn't just that I knew I'd miss them – it was also that feeling that it was the end of a chapter. It felt pretty big."
While busy Brodie hasn't had time to focus on romance, with a slew of glamorous dancing costumes at her disposal, she jokes that it might be time to update the dating apps.
"Ooh, yes, surely sequins would do the trick on Tinder!"
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