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Tag: television

Some older dogs will get a chance in the lead-up to next year’s Puppy Bowl

After 13 years of celebrating youthful dogs in their annual “Puppy Bowl” extravaganza, Animal Planet is finally going to give older dogs a chance to show off their stuff.

Leading up to Puppy Bowl XIV, the network will show the “Dog Bowl,” a one-hour special hosted by Jill Rappaport that — while it may not prove to be as rambunctiously action-packed as the Puppy Bowl — is aimed at giving older dogs a chance to be adopted.

Its contestants won’t be limited to senior dogs, but the program will feature adult dogs living in rescues and shelters.

The program likely won’t be the ratings grabber that the Puppy Bowl has been as an alternative to the Super Bowl. And it may not satisfy an audience seeking mega-doses of playful cuteness.

But it will likely lead to some calmer, wiser, been-around-the-block-a-time-or-two dogs finding forever homes.

And that’s what the Puppy Bowl is all about. Well, that and ratings. Well, that and ratings and advertising and sponsoring.

“Puppy Bowl’s goal is to promote animal adoption so as many animals as possible can find their forever homes,” Patrice Andrews, General Manager of Animal Planet, says in a release.

The formula — dogs competing on a miniature football field — has proven to be a succesful one, both in terms of ratings and in leading its contestants to get adopted.

As is the case with any successful TV show, it’s now being duplicated. Hallmark’s Kitten Bowl will be back for its fourth year.

And then there’s National Geographic’s Fish Bowl, which we’re pretty sure isn’t about adoptions at all.

The new Dog Bowl will be part of Animal Planet’s Road to the Puppy Bowl coverage. It’s good to see the makers of Puppy Bowl branching out and becoming a little more inclusive and diverse.

Last year’s Puppy Bowl featured a three-legged pup and two other special needs dogs — one deaf and one sight and hearing impaired.

It’s about time more mature dogs got some attention, especially in an industry that is so focused on youth, be it human or canine.

After all, an older dog can still be pretty entertaining.

(Video: A promotion for Animal Planet’s 2017 Puppy Bowl, which turned out to be the second highest rated ever)

Poking a little more fun at Audible For Dogs

We poked a little fun at Amazon’s new Audible For Dogs yesterday, but, as we see, the campaign is so lame there’s plenty of room for more poking.

So up there above is what Conan O’Brien’s writers did with it.

Audible has teamed up with Cesar Millan, and their effort is receiving a truly inordinate amount of media coverage, especially when you consider it’s really no effort at all — rather, it’s just featuring some audio books they already offer on a new web page.

Given it’s just another way for them to move existing merchandise, and given most of us dog owners already knew that turning on the television or a radio (both of which cost you less than an audio book) could help keep home-alone dogs company, there’s nothing there but some slick marketing.

Not to rub their noses in it, but the campaign by Audible and its parent company Amazon deserves every bit of ridicule it gets.

Dogs are greater motivation for buying first home than children or marriage, study says

flipflop

If you’re flipping houses — and based on my television viewing I surmise pretty much everyone in America is — you might want to give a fenced back yard the highest priority, higher even than that “en suite” master bathroom.

A study commissioned by Sun Trust, a mortgage company, shows that Millennial-age Americans are motivated to buy a home more because of their dog — or the possibility of someday having one — than they are by marriage of the birth of a child.

So forget that nursery, flippers — whether you’re in Orange County, Atlanta or Las Vegas. Don’t worry so much about those his and her walk-in closets. Instead, make sure the home you’re flipping has a nice sturdy fence.

True, if you’re one of those countless flippers who have combined your flipping with your own flipping TV show, watching a fence get built doesn’t make for riveting television. But then (sorry) neither does the laying of sod or the construction of a kitchen island. (Despite that, I keep watching for some reason.)

But back to the study … A full 33 percent of millennials between ages 18 and 36 said that canine-related concerns are what motivated them most to buy a home.

That’s more than the number who said they made the jump to home ownership because of marriage (25 percent), a new baby (19 percent), or to get a washer and dryer (18 percent).

A desire for more living space was the top motivator (at 66 percent), followed by a desire to build equity (36 percent). Third, though, were the needs of the dog, or a potential dog — including a fenced yard.

The survey was restricted to millenials who recently bought their first home.

It asked about their motivations for doing so, as opposed to the house features they were looking for.

So things like stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops — both of which seem vital based on my watching of too many television shows featuring spoiled people looking for a new house — were not factors.

The survey found that 42 percent of millennials who had never bought a home said that their dog, or the desire to have one, would be a key factor in their decision to make the jump from renting to owning.

The study found that 60 percent of first-time home buyers are millennials. It’s expected that, within the next five years, 80 million millennials will embark on their house-hunting journey, said Dorinda Smith, president and CEO of SunTrust Mortgage.

She said restrictive pet policies among landlords add to the numbers of pet owners seeking their own place.

“Some rental properties don’t allow pets and most rental properties are limited in space,” Smith said. “There’s also additional effort in keeping a dog in rental apartments.”

(Photo: Tarek and Christina El Moussa, hosts of “Flip or Flop, are separated with a divorce pending, but the show goes on, from HGTV; graphic from SunTrust Banks, Inc.)

Inspired by Michael Phelps and that shark, I arrange an inter-species race of my own

phelpsshark

Some of you might have caught Michael Phelps in his dramatic and courageous race with that great white shark, shown in a Discovery Channel special the other night.

It was yet another inspiring moment in the career of the Olympian, who is a close personal (Facebook) friend of mine.

So inspiring it was that it led me to challenge some creatures from another species to a fully legitimate, no trick photography, race of our own.

Since I write about animals, and am a pretty major celebrity myself, it seemed worth doing, or at least as worth doing as your typical Discovery Channel, Learning Channel, History Channel program.

And humans racing animals has a long and stupid history. Jesse Owens raced a horse. Several athletes have tried to outrun cheetahs. Others have gone up against dogs and ostriches.

True, I am not exactly at my athletic peak these days. I’m still getting over having a kidney removed and, as a result, I’m moving a little more slowly and with a little more discomfort than usual.

satireBut — being a competitive soul (like Mike) — I wasn’t about to let that stop me. I carefully researched and chose the creatures I would competing against.

To capture the contest on video, I hired someone to film it. Being a little strapped for funds, what with hospital bills and all, my videographer was actually a wino I found downtown who, once he got the camera pointed the right way, seemed up to the task.

Unfortunately, he framed the shots in such a way that I don’t appear in them as I glide down the asphalt at what is now my full speed. Don’t let that make you doubt the authenticity of all this though, for my journalistic ethics are every bit as solid as the Discovery Channel, or for that matter, the History Channel, or the Learning Channel.

To further uphold the integrity of the event, I arranged for four judges with unimpeachable reputations to oversee the race — Ryan Lochte, D.B. Cooper, Yeti and Amelia Earhart.

I won’t put off the suspense any longer, because I know you are all dying to see it. Here is the footage:

While the snail broke out to an early lead, the slug managed to stay right behind it, and I was right behind the slug, though out of the camera’s frame.

Eventually I passed the slug — you’ll just have to take my word for it — and pulled even with the snail. I had opened up a pretty good lead when, realizing one of my sneakers had come untied, I bent over to re-tie it.

Before I was able to get upright, I was swallowed whole by a giant anaconda. I thought escape would be impossible, as if I was in Al Capone’s vault. But, a few minutes later, I managed to reach up and tickle his throat until he coughed me up.

By the time I was able to get back on my feet — not without a few groans — both the snail and the slug were way in front of me, leaving trails of slime behind them that made getting my footing difficult.

I reached deep down inside, near where my kidney used to be, and summoned up the strength for a final burst. Sadly, as I caught up with them, the camera still didn’t have me in the frame.

Now I could have played with the video, and used CGI, so you’d see all three of us in the race, but how honest would that be?

Documentaries should be honest, after all — a straight recounting of the facts with no misrepresentations, deceptions, schmaltzy staged reenactments or trick photography.

I am nothing if not honest, and far be it from me to manufacture drama where none really exists, or to drag out any suspense.

Suffice to say the results of that historic race — John vs. slug vs. snail — left many with their jaws dropped, their hearts pounding and the realization that they had seen something truly special. Some say it will become a legend for the ages. The winner was …

Fade to commercial.

To purchase the CD of John’s race with the snail and the slug, moderated by Morgan Freeman, send $89.99 to Phake Newz Documentaries, 8999 N. 8999th St., NY, NY. Do so in the next hour and you’ll also receive the envelope it comes in.

Oh yeah, you’re wondering who won. The truth — trust me — is that I pulled out a come-from-behind victory that left the thousands, no make that tens of thousands, of spectators all on the edge of their seats, cheering wildly, including a recently paroled O.J. Simpson, a contingent of leprechauns and more than 100 members of my mermaid fan club.

(Photo representation at top from The Washington Post; video from YouTube, posted by M77174)

Why’d ya have to kick that dog, Marge?

homer

In the final episode of its 28th season, “The Simpsons” was making some pretty wry and thought-provoking observations on the ever evolving human-dog relationship.

But then Marge had to go and kick a dog, ruining — or at least tarnishing — the whole episode.

“Dogtown” started off with Homer swerving his car to avoid hitting the Simpson’s family dog, Santa’s Little Helper, and running into a human instead — a down on his luck character named Gil who was, like the dog, seeking to forage a meal from garbage cans in an alleyway.

The injured Gil files a lawsuit against Homer — one that he seems sure to win until Homer’s lawyer notices and seizes on the jury’s love for dogs.

He mounts a defense emphasizing Homer’s desire not to hurt the dog, highlighting all the wonderful things dogs do for us, citing historical examples and showing cute YouTube videos that lead jury members to utter extended “awwwwwwwws.”

Gil’s lawyer tries to show that a dog’s life shouldn’t be valued as highly as a human’s, pointing out some less than desirable canine habits, but the jury finds all of them cute as well.

They issue a quick not guilty verdict for Homer, and he goes on to be revered as a local hero for sparing the dog’s life.

bartNoting how the case has captured the public’s attention, Mayor Quimby decides he needs dog-loving voters in his camp and begins passing laws that turn Springfield into a dog paradise

Springfield becomes not just dog-friendly, but dog-serving, dog-pandering — a place where many human establishments once serving humans now service dogs almost exclusively, a place where dogs don’t have to answer to anyone about anything.

As farce, it worked. The outrageous scenarios it portrayed of dogs being coddled, pampered, spoiled and placed on pedestals rang at least a tiny bit true.

Other than a dejected Gil, who has realized the town values dogs more than someone like him, the only naysayer is local veterinarian Dr. Budgie, who predicts that dogs, without humans to be subservient to, are going turn on people once they discover that humans are no longer in charge.

When they do, things get chaotic. Dogs take over, taking advantage of new opportunities, but also growing more in touch with their wild roots, stalking and preying and wandering the streets in roaming packs.

When Santa’s Little Helper departs the Simpson’s home to live with his own kind, Bart and Lisa set off to find him, but end up getting treed by a pack of snarling dogs, led by the alpha dog, a Chihuahua.

marge

Marge comes to the rescue, facing down the pack of dogs, and particularly their leader. When that dog growls at her, Marge growls right back, ordering them all to sit and stay.

That, plot-wise, could and should have been enough to show she has reasserted her dominance, but the writers took it a step too far. Marge is shown kicking the small dog, who disappears into the horizon like punted football. After that she’s completely in control, dogs resume their place, and — though the esteem in which I once held Marge is forever altered — life returns to normal in Springfield.

It just wasn’t in keeping with Marge’s character. Sure, she’s a no-nonsense sort and will lay down the law when she has to, but violence has never seemed part of her repertoire. She has always favored brains over brute force.

It was not a good message. Even in a cartoon. Even in an adult cartoon known for pushing the envelope. And the worse part was, it was not at all necessary to the story, just a gratuitous dog kick that should have been edited out.

We’re guessing that scene wouldn’t have survived in Sam Simon’s day.

Simon, director and co-creator of the series, died in 2015, but his philanthropy and love for dogs lives on through the Sam Simon Foundation, which, among other causes, works to save animals from harmful and abusive situations.

To see that other part of his legacy, namely “The Simpsons,” resorting to depicting a dog being kicked — and kicked by Marge rather than a doofus like Homer — strikes me as shameful.

Surely, the writer could have come up with another three-second gag to replace that, and not leave viewers with the impression — even in the context of comedy — that violence and brute force are needed to train, discipline or keep dogs “in their place.”

That’s my verdict, anyway, and as for the writer we’d suggest a good strong correction — like a firm jerk on the leash.

New TV series features talking dog

You regular readers may know already I am not a fan of the talking dog.

That’s partly because I feel we have no right to be putting words in their mouths, thereby further humanizing them, which, in my view, is not just a mistake, but an insult (to dogs). But mostly it’s just plain creepy.

So I’m going to refrain from predicting whether ABC’s “Downward Dog” will be the blockbuster hit of the season, or gotten rid of quicker than a used poop bag.

The New York Times called it “hard on the ears,” while USA Today described it a “delightfully amiable summer companion.”

Martin, the dog character, sometimes talks with a moving mouth, sometimes as a (far less creepy) voice-over, but he can only be heard by us viewers — not the other characters or dogs in the show.

Gimmicky as it sounds, the show does feature some talented creatures, beginning with Ned, who plays Martin. Ned was discovered at PAWS Chicago, a no kill shelter he was shipped to after becoming homeless in Mississippi.

Martin is the narrator of the show, offering wry philosophical comments on both being a dog and the behavior of his human, a “struggling millennial” named Nan, played by Emmy-nominated Allison Tolman of “Fargo.”

IMBD describes the plot as “a lonely dog navigates the complexity of 21st century relationships.” It started out as a web series of short videos. A year and a half ago, producers got clearance to make a pilot out of the concept and started looking for a dog to play the role of Martin, who is a rescued dog in the show.

They took one look at Ned’s photo from PAWS and hired him immediately, according to DNAinfo.

Upon arrival at PAWS (Pets Are Worth Saving) from Mississippi, Ned was an anxious, skittish dog — a bit under-socialized, said PAWS Director of Training Joan Harris. “He was seeking a lot of attention from people, but then he didn’t know how to receive it.”

nedHe was adopted, but later returned and ended up being fostered by Crystal Dollinger, a PAWS volunteer who cared for him for four months before he was chosen for the role and moved to Hollywood.

Ned belongs now to his trainer, Nicole Handley, who made a return visit to the shelter in Chicago with him last week — partly for his 4th birthday party, more so to promote the new show. It premieres tonight at 8:30 before switching to Tuesdays. The shelter will waive adoption fees today in his honor.

“Ned’s life is very different now than it was a year and a half ago,” Handley said. “Ned is definitely the diva on set. Pretty much whatever Ned needs, Ned gets.”

(Photo: Ned with Allison Tolman, who plays his owner on “Downward Dog,” trainer Nicole Handley and PAWS volunteer Crystal Dollinger, who fostered him for four months; by Ted Cox / DNAInfo)

If only the real “Bachelor” was this good

A New Mexico animal shelter has produced a pretty brilliant two-minute parody of “The Bachelor” with women vying for the attention of a handsome cur named Stewart.

“… With Valentine’s Day it just seemed like the perfect time to do that,” said Jamie Merideth, a former TV news videographer who went to work last year as a videographer for the Santa Fe Humane Society.

“We’re trying to find these animal forever homes and it just seemed like a good platform to do that,” she added.

The video’s message, of course, is that the love of your life may be waiting for adoption in an animal shelter.

But the video’s beauty also lies in its highly professional, and highly hilarious, execution.

Most of the “actresses” work at the humane society.

They play the roles of a hair stylist, an art therapist, a professional dog walker and an attorney — all oozing drama and reflecting the kind of cattiness the program is known for as they compete for Stewart’s affections.

Stewart, the ever so hunky bachelor, was a shelter dog in real life. His owner (who’s also in the video) adopted him from the Washington Humane Society before moving from Maryland to Santa Fe.

He represents the 100 or so dogs available for adoption at the Santa Fe shelter on any given day.

“He’s an amazing bachelor. He has the look, just very handsome,” Merideth told KRQE.

The video was posted Friday on the humane society’s Facebook page.

The Santa Fe Animal Shelter and Humane Society, located on a four-building campus on a 100-acre lot, has long been regarded as one of the most progressive in the country.

Now we know it’s packed with some pretty talented humans, too.