Tuesday, 11 December 2018
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Dogs, puppies and more dogs everywhere on your screen in new Netflix doc

I’ve always been curious why cable channels like Animal Planet or Nat Geo Wild have yet to fully exploit a certain niche. I’m talking about programming that entirely centers the relationship between humans and their pets. You can find plenty of good series about veterinarians or animal rescue groups on these channels — but there are other stories to be told, as well. Sometimes there is drama enough simply in a story about a person and their dog.

Filling that gap is the new Netflix documentary series “Dogs,” developed by producer Glen Zipper with director Amy Berg, focusing each of its six hour-long episodes on a different story. They are all good. Full stop.

But only two stand out as exceptional examples that capture the nuances of the human-canine bond. And just as importantly, the personality of the dog in question.

Episode 1 (“The Kid with a Dog”) is primarily a story of the humans at its center. A sixth grader named Corrine has epilepsy and soon she will be paired with a service dog who can alert others when a seizure is happening.

It’s a lovely 4,400 square foot brick house that sits on a huge plot of land. The house itself has been sectioned off into zones. The front bedroom is for puppy litters. The living room is for larger dogs. A sun porch has been turned into a quarantine room. And though it appears many of the dogs sleep in crates at night, they’re mostly free to wander about as they please during the day. “Don’t blame the shelters,” Ron says of the euthanasia that inevitably befalls unclaimed dogs in municipal shelters, “blame the community that doesn’t neuter or spay their pets — or abandons them.”

The guys have employees who help run things and they all work hard to keep everything clean, which means everything you’d expect — plus 18 loads of laundry mainly consisting of pet bedding that’s tossed in a commercial-grade washer everyday.

Ron is originally from Chicago. He’s the taller of the two and has the deep sonorous voice of a newscaster. Danny is the former horse show champ who is quieter and more noticeably introspective. He is also allergic to dogs and horses. Doesn’t stop him. They’ve been together 27 years; their rescue has been around for the past 15. It has completely engulfed their lives (it’s overwhelming just to see it) but they’ve adopted out more than 11,000 dogs in that time.

As a couple, they are terrific screen company — so much so that they should be anchoring their own TV series. They’re photogenic but they aren’t performing. They don’t try to please the camera. They’re just themselves.

And their dogs — both their personal pets and their rescue denizens — seem awfully content with their surroundings. Director Davis goes with the perhaps on-the-nose but wonderfully lump-in-your-throat choice of Cat Stevens’ “I Love My Dog” for the closing credits.

nmetz@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @Nina_Metz

MORE COVERAGE: ‘Dog Whisperer’ Cesar Millan on why Americans have so many problems with their dogs »

‘Pick of the Litter’ doc: Who’s a good dog? All of them, but only some can be guide dogs »

Capturing the real lives of Istanbul’s street cats in ‘Kedi’ »

Source: https://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/tv/sc-mov-dogs-netflix-life-in-the-doghouse-reviews-1116-story.html

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