The Who's Pete Townshend believes ''when dogs are ready they reincarnate into humans''.

The 73-year-old guitarist - who is joined in the rock band by singer Roger Daltrey - loves having mutt mates because they help him with his mental health struggles and the 'Pinball Wizard' songwriter has now revealed that he has an unconventional ''attitude'' to what happens to dogs when they pass away and is convinced they return to Earth as humans.

Speaking to The Times newspaper, Pete said: ''I'm crazy about dogs. And they are good for me because I'm manic. I swing in and out of depression, and 25 years of being clean [from drink and drugs] means I have high highs and low lows. Rachel is wonderful, sharing my life with her is wonderful, but it's not unconditional. When you're down, having a dog who comes up and licks your face changes your body chemistry. I do love them. I miss them when they go. But I have a farmer's attitude: they do their job and then they pass on to the other side. I believe in reincarnation and, although I can't prove it, I believe that when dogs are ready they reincarnate into humans''.

Pete's wife Rachel Fuller added that the couple have lost six dogs in five years, and on one occasion, she made a heart pin of her pet pooch's fur so she could still ''smell him'' as she missed her canine friend so much.

The 45-year-old musician added: ''I don't compare it to losing a person, but grief is grief and in the past five years Pete and I have lost six dogs. When our Golden Retriever Spud died I was so consumed with grief that I had a bag of fur I brushed out of him. I felted into a little heart so I could still smell him and pinned it on my dress. Then I said, 'Look Pete. I've made a heart out of Spud's fur.' He said, 'That's a bit creepy.' ''