Barrie says his first foray into animal training came at the age of six: "I tried to train the family's Christmas dinner - a cockerel! to lay eggs."
Soon after he moved on to Bambi, the family's tabby cat, trying to persuade it to jump from one upturned saucepan to another.
At eight he was packed off to boarding school where he kept a menagerie of worms, frogs and toads in his gym locker. He also managed to capture a stoat on the boys' garden allotments but it didn't stay around for long: "The smell of old gym socks and shoes was too much for him," says Barrie.