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“The Secret Life of Dogs” airs Aug. 25 on Nat Geo Wild.

OXFORD SCIENTIFIC FILMS,

Furry friends take over small screen

  • Article by: NEIL GENZLINGER New York Times
  • August 18, 2013 - 2:00 PM

We’ve survived Shark Week. Time to give dogs a turn.

Programming about dogs and for dogs is suddenly having a television moment. First the “for”: Dogs everywhere are presumably barking, whimpering or growling with excitement, because the subscription service DogTV has just gone nationwide after a stretch of test marketing.

DogTV, offered over the Internet or through DirecTV, plays nonstop imagery that supposedly appeals to dogs. The idea is that your dog can watch while you’re at work, or while you’re home but ignoring the poor beast, or whatever.

If you want to be better able to gauge whether your dog is enjoying DogTV, you should plan to watch “The Secret Life of Dogs,” an Aug. 25 special on Nat Geo Wild.

“Do we really know our faithful companions,” the program asks, “how they see their world, what they really think of us?”

It then proceeds to relate, with lots of slow motion and close-ups, all sorts of tidbits about dogs. Some draw on fairly exotic science, and others are simply things that you may have never thought much about, like how exactly dogs get the contents of the water bowl into their mouths.

“Dogs curve their tongue in the water, making it cuplike,” the narration says, “and pull it up into their mouth, snapping it shut before all the water escapes.”

This may not be a particularly efficient delivery system, since it deposits a fair amount of water on the floor around the bowl, but it sure looks cool in slow-mo.

Anyway, as far as TV viewing is concerned, dogs, we’re told, are partly colorblind. They see blues and yellows, but orange looks the same as green. Presumably the people at DogTV know this and shoot their programming accordingly. If you are not a DogTV subscriber, now you at least know not to force your dog to watch a football game in which a team with orange uniforms plays one in green.

One other thing of note regarding dogs: “They have up to 300 million scent glands in their nose, compared to our 5 million,” the narrator of the Nat Geo Wild program reports. That should enable your dog to sniff out a bad show and warn you away from it, like the one coming up on Monday night on TLC called “Boston Underdogs.”

This one-shot, the latest in a string of wretched reality shows out of Boston (a list that includes “Wicked Single” and “Southie Rules”), is about an insufferable woman named Stacia who has started an organization that tries to find homes for dogs that are in kill shelters or otherwise need to be rescued.

At least, that’s what she says her interest is. You’d never know it from the program, which serves up mind-numbing disputes between Stacia and her boyfriend and anecdotes from the lives of her uninteresting friends but spends little time on the dogs she’s supposedly so concerned about. We see a few of them, proving in graphic fashion that they are not house-trained, and that’s about it. Not a particularly good adopt-a-dog advertisement.

Young dog lovers, at least, have something to look forward to. On Monday the Hub Network begins its annual Dog Days of Summer week, which culminates in a “Pound Puppies” marathon Saturday. The week also includes assorted dog movies like “Air Bud: Golden Receiver,” about Buddy the football-playing dog. His abilities become all the more impressive when you see the color of some of the opposing teams’ uniforms.

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