Television Is Going to the Dogs
We’ve always had a joke in our house with whichever schnauzer in our long line of companions shared our home at the time.
Whenever a TV show came on featuring a dog, be it trainer Caesar Milan or an episode of Frasier with Eddie, we’d holler “Hey, Windsor, Paddy, Moxie, or Max, your show’s on!”
More often than not, as schnauzers do, they’d ignore us, but we enjoyed the laugh.
But neither our little game, nor America’s increased love affair with all things dog prepared me for DogTV. Before, complaining that television has gone to the dogs was just a cliché about the Kardashians or Lock-Up. Hello, now the complaint is literal.
Yes, folks, in the exploding world of subscription TV there is now a channel created exclusively for man and woman’s best friend. It’s cleverly marketed for a prospective audience of millions of new viewers and their checkbook owning humans. Using phrases like “Leave a little love on,” or “A new breed of TV,” DogTV is a cable channel specifically programmed for your pooch. It’s the narrowcast model at its narrowest.
There was a free promo for the channel on last night, so Bonnie, Windsor, and I got our popcorn out and gave it a look. A veterinarian comes on and describes how bored your pet is when you leave the house and maybe the separation anxiety he feels will lead to damage and destruction. Make me guilty much? Honestly, I’m the one with separation anxiety.
When we leave, I think Windsor is glad. When we’re home he feels compelled to entertain us by taking every toy he owns out of the toy box and cheering us on as we put them away. He keeps us safe from the dreaded doorbell, plays early warning system for the UPS truck, and frantically paces under the kitchen table so he can snag morsels as they drop. I think he loves when we go out so he can rest.
But the DogTV vet plays the bad parent card, insisting that your dog has no stimulation whatever when you are away. So you gotta get DogTV.
First, we saw the Exposure Show, with shots of lightning and sounds of thunder, doorbells, several dogs barking and video of a woman vacuuming. It’s supposed to get them used to these anxiety-inducing things.
At real thunder, Windsor sleeps like a baby; if a chorus of dogs bark in a five mile radius, Windsor takes the tenor part. When we actually vacuum, albeit infrequently, Windsor is Vlad the Impaler, leaving fang marks on the Oreck.
But when he watched the DogTV Exposure Show, I heard him snort “meh.”
Then we had the “Mellowing” video for the Relaxation Show, featuring soft classical music and beautiful scenery of a golden retriever sitting beside a lake. Bonnie and I gulped caffeine to survive it, but Windsor viciously attacked the TV.
I thought he took exception to the Bach cantata, but in reality he was flailing after a horse fly strolling across the lower quadrant of the Sony. Believe me, the Relaxation tape did nothing to calm the dog or protect the fly. Or the Sony for that matter.
Further along in the mellow program Windsor barked to go out, producing (wait for it…) mellow yellow.
Then the veterinary host talked about the Stimulation Show, with bouncing lights, dizzying sounds, bouncing graphics, and vibrantly exploding colors. I flashed back to the psychedelic ‘60s, but it did absolutely nothing for Windsor, who by this time was hanging his head off the front of the sofa sniffing for crumbs.
Maybe if they resurrected movie theatre Smell-o-Vision on DogTV they might be on to something. Windsor could watch video of pups at a dogpark, get real close and smell their butts. We’d need Windex to remove the nose prints from the screen, but Windsor would be insanely happy.
Short of that, we found nothing to induce us to sign up for this $4.99 per month premium channel. We’re already paying $32 a month for his health insurance, not to mention $62 a month for his premium grain-free, fat free, lactose-free kibble containing more gourmet meats than a recipe from A(muse).
As for stimulation, we’ve always kept the TV on for Windsor when we go out, usually on the channel with 24/7 reruns of Law & Order SVU. Mariska Hargitay? Stimulating.
But of course, the decision should be up to Windsor. After all, Bonnie has her Golf Channel, and I have PBS, so we asked Windsor directly. He stared at us, yawned, and hopped off the sofa, trouncing on the remote as he went. His exit changed the channel to HGTV.
I’ll take that as a “No.”
Fay Jacobs is the author of As I Lay Frying—a Rehoboth Beach Memoir; Fried & True—Tales from Rehoboth Beach; For Frying Out Loud—Rehoboth Beach Diaries; Time Fries—Aging Gracelessly in Rehoboth Beach, and her newest book Fried & Convicted: Rehoboth Beach Uncorked.