There are several television shows about dogs currently (late 2019) on over-the-air (non-cable) TV. Some of them are good, some not so good.
I put this in the Books section, just as I put dog movies, because these are alternatives or supplements to reading. Also because I couldn't figure out where else they might fit in.
All opinions are my own of course. Your opinion might differ.
I've updated this a couple of times. Some shows have changed names or changed the main characters. Some are no longer playing in my area, but may well be playing in yours. Check local listings. These are weekend shows, often part of the channel's "educational" programming.
Dog shows on TV
by Pam Green, © 2019, 2021
Currently there are a number of shows about dogs on television. I will only mentions ones I sometimes watch.
For some of these shows, especially those on CBS, the commercial interludes include ones that encourage pet adoption. That's wonderful !
You will have to check your local listings for time and channel. In my area, Sacramento Valley, these are all weekend morning to mid-day shows. I would think they are all suitable for children and suitable for adults.
Update 2021 : some of these shows are no longer on the air in my area. But check your own local listings.
shows about dogs generally, living with dogs
- Dog Tales on the H&I channel
Each show starts with a section about a particular family and their dogs (usually showing a lot of petting, cuddling), then a section about one particular breed (often including caveats such as that the breed is very high energy or that it requires serious training). The remainder varies as to topic. Some of the topics are really great. Some feature dog Rescue groups in various parts of the US or feature groups providing care for dogs in Third World countries. Some segments deal with working dogs, such as a great segment about Search and Rescue dogs in Paris, France. The over-all message is that dogs are great family members and that dogs need and deserve human care. The short segments and the songs for each would appeal to children, though maybe not so much to adults.
- Martha Speaks on Public Broadcasting Service channels.
Do look for it on your local PBS channels ; and if it's not currently running, you might suggest to your local channel that they carry it as part of their childrens' educational programming.
This is an absolutely fabulous cartoon show, based on the Martha Speaks books by Susan Meddaugh, about a dog who gains the ability to speak from eating alphabet soup. The show is intended to encourage reading and to build the vocabulary of children aged 4 to 7. It also teaches them that dogs are sentient beings who deserve respect and affection. Although the show and books were intended for children, any dog loving adult should find it utterly delightful. It's not currently running in my area, but when it was, I watched it religiously. The books are probably available in the Childrens section of your local public library. If not, encourage the librarian to add them.
shows about dog adoption and dog training
- Lucky Dog with Brandon McMillan, on CBS.
In my area on Saturday mornings and good enough to make me get up early. Each episode features the rescue of one shelter dog , the dog's training, and eventual adoption. The training information is excellent. For every dog the "seven basic commands" = Sit , Down, Come, Stay, Heel (actually loose leash walking, not formal heel), Off (get off, mostly to get down from furniture), and No (don't grab food on floor ; I use "leave it" for this, though mostly I am willing to let dogs have food that drops to the floor). These all would be appropriate for every dog, though some of us choose different cue words for some of these. Additionally there may be special training to fit the dog with the lifestyle or needs of the intended adopter, an adopter already chosen as the likely good fit with this dog, plus special training to over-come any issues this dog might have. Brandon trains with lots of well-voiced praise (favorite word seems to be "perfect") and with rewards (usually small bits of food). He emphasizes that lessons must be done over and over , over the course of many days. Some of his methods are fairly obvious, eg how to use stairs or how to use a dog door, but some are cleverly inventive , such as riding a paddle board. A number of episodes feature training the dog to provide some form of disability assistance for a member of the intended adopting family. In all cases it's clear that he has done some careful match-making and evaluation of a potential adopter's situation. Then he does any special training needed for that particular situation.
I really really like this show !. Every episode shows the dog becoming a greatly loved family member of the adopting home. The show's motto and mantra is "from hopeless to a home, one dog at a time"
It would however be even better if it included mention of the absolute necessity of spay/neuter, which could easily take place during the intake vet exam that is shown in many episodes. Possibly Brandon takes S/N for granted because he is working in California, where ever since 2000 the law (Hayden Act) demands that all shelter dogs be S/N prior to adoption and that all rescuers do S/N prior to adopting dogs out. It would also be an improvement to show that each dog gets his adopter's phone number on his collar at the time he is handed over to the adopter. The gimmick of trading the red "in training" collar for a light green "adopted" collar would make it easy to use a Sharpie ink marker pen to write on the green collar, thus providing an instant short term "phone home". The adopter should then go to the pet store to get an engraved tag, if this has not been done beforehand.
Update Jan, 2021 :
Since January, use of face masks is very consistant and very appropriate, with a text box saying "because of the COVID pandemic, face masks are used"
The show has changed to a different rescuer-trainer , Eric Weise, and his wife, Rashi. In most ways the show is very similar in that training in basics is emphasized, plus testing and special training to fit the particular adoptive home. Rashi is a social worker and she does the initial searching among adoption applicants to find a good match for each dog, followed by longer Zoom (or similar) session with Eric and Rashi and the adoptive family. I've now seen quite a few episodes , and I think the show is improved by the changes.
The "7 basic commands" are now "6 basic cues", "off" having been dropped, "no" changed to "leave it", and "heel" changed to (verbally cueless) loose-leash walking. There's still no mention of Spay/Neuter, and that is the one big deficiency in the show. Also no mention of an collar tag with adopter's phone number and/or microchip. The mantra, "from hopeless to a home, one dog at a time", has not changed. It's a great show, and I highly recommend it to all, children and adults. Make a recording of a few episodes to give to that person you know who has not yet done basic training with his dog.
- Ready, Set , Pet on the CW channel.
Set in urban area of eastern US along migrating bird flyways. This show emphasizes creating a lovely backyard with yard furniture and with plants that are hospitable to birds and pollinating insects. Unfortunately they sometimes plant species that can be toxic to pets , such as hydrangia. Not as much emphasis on creating safe and comfortable indoor areas for the dog. There might be an implication (or conclusion drawn by the viewr) that family and dog belong outside in the yard, rather than inside the house. Worst aspect to me is that the family is presented with three dogs to choose from, too often including a type that the parents have already said is NOT what they want. I especially object that when parents have already said "not a puppy, puppies are too much work", they will be offered a puppy and the quite young children are asked to be responsible for puppy's care. The reality is that young children can do this only if parents supervise and teach, and parents must be committed to taking primary responsibility. Also very bad : there is no discussion of the absolute necessity of training the dog. All adopted dogs require training, sometimes a huge lot of training. (note : sometimes the pet under consideration is a cat, but even cats require some training.)
This is a pretty good show about gardens, backyard living spaces. It's a poor show about responsible dog adoption.
(UPDATE 2020 : this show is no longer on the air in my area.)
shows about veterinary care (multi-species)
- Pet Vet Dream Team (formerly Dr Chris, Pet Vet), on CBS.
This is set in Australia, with frequent intercuts of Bondi Beach and other iconic scenes, including the Sydney Opera House. Despite the "pet" name, the vets also sometimes go to a wild animal park to treat animals there or treat wildlife brought to the clinic, so we get to see some of Australia's iconic and not-so-iconic wildlife. These vets clearly adore animals and are fascinated by them. They often describe an animal as "gorgeous".
A lot of the problems shown in pets are ones that pet caretakers may well encounter sooner or later. So it's good to be able to recognize the symptoms of these.
- The Great Dr Scott.
This is set in England. Dr Scott and his team clearly adore animals. Includes some pets one wouldn't see in the USA such as tame or semi-tame foxes, which can be handled without fear of Rabies.
A lot of problems seen are ones that are not unusual for dogs and cats. So it's a helpful education for pet guardians.
No longer on the air in my area, but check your own local listings.
- Vets Saving Pets.
At an animal emergency clinic in Toronto, Canada. Frequent problems are spinal cord issues, ie protruding disc issues (a real emergency, time critical), and dental problems (usually less time sensitive), cardiac issues. Various other problems, sometimes initially mysterious. There's probably more emphasis on technique and surgery than in other shows, with specialty vets doing the diagnosis and treatment. Gives you a good idea of some problems are emergencies or highly urgent and that require such specialty treatment Mostly dogs and cats.
The Emergency clinic is located in Toronto, Canada. (possibly some relationship with U of Guelph's Ontario Veterinary College). The Canadian locale is not obvious as none of the vets tend to end every third sentence with the Canadian "eh ?", and as payments are not shown we don't see that technicolor currency.
On one episode one of the vets mentions that a large part of the job is supporting the clients emotionally, helping them cope with their worry about their beloved pet.That is certainly true for vets everywhere, and most vets are pretty good at doing that.
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