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 and 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 has been with us forever."
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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!"