Saturday, July 12, 2008

No reality TV for me…until now

I don’t watch reality TV. At least, not shows that tend to be competitive in nature. I’ve never seen an episode of Survivor, American Idol, Hell’s Kitchen or the like, and I don’t feel as though I missed anything by not watching.

Then along came Greatest American Dog, where twelve people and their dogs are competing for a chance to win $250,000.

As I watched the commercials leading up to the premiere I could feel my “no reality TV” stance beginning to waver. Happy, well-behaved dogs interacting with their favorite people in the world, all while in a beautiful setting --- what’s not to love? Especially for someone like me, who will regularly stop people in their tracks for a chance to talk about the dog they are busy walking.

My last bit of resolve crumbled like the topping of a Dewar’s sundae when I learned that Victoria Stilwell was on board as one of the judges. As far as I’m concerned, Victoria Stilwell rocks the socks off of Cesar Millan when it comes to dog training. Don’t believe me? Check out a couple of episodes of It’s Me or the Dog on Animal Planet.

So I watched.

By and large it looked like the dogs were enjoying themselves. The dog owners seem incredibly smitten with their canine companions, even when their pooches were less than stellar in their performances. The judges made it clear that the dogs’ happiness and well-being are the top considerations for the competition and that it is up to the owners to insure both.

Watching a show like Greatest American Dog can be downright inspiring for me. Seeing happy people interact with equally happy dogs, I’m reminded of how important training is for the physical and mental health of pets, and how the art of positive training only serves to strengthen the bond between people and their furry companions. As an added bonus, I get ideas about new commands for Darby, my SPCA pup, and household items I can use to put a new spin on an old trick.

I don’t care who ultimately wins the contest, at least not yet. When dogs have owners who love and care for them the way these folks do, the dogs have won already.

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