BELFAST TELEGRAPH 21 AUGUST 2008
“WHY THIS TV SHOW’S MADE MY MUTT GO BARKING MAD”.
Congratulations to BBC Northern Ireland on a brilliant new TV series, Good Dog Bad Dog. Like a home-grown spin-off of the popular American show The Dog Whisperer, in which out-of-control canines are taught how to behave, this version is even more entertaining as it features Ulster accents and attitudes throughout.
Here, the dog trainer and shrink, Keith Mathews, takes on a variety of unruly pets in an attempt to transform them Pygmalion-style into perfect pooches. Then, in the grand finale episode, they will be taken to a dog show and expected to perform in front of experienced judges.
So far I have found it highly entertaining. My own dogs, however, beg to differ.
Bailey, my bichon frisée, was in fact so incensed after the first episode that he has asked me to publish his response.
An open letter to the producers of Good Dog Bad Dog:
I wish to express my shock and sadness at the way dogs are being portrayed in this appaling television series. It is not only insulting and offensive but it is also morally wrong to allow animals to be harangued and humiliated in such a way simply for human public entertainment.
This Mr Mathews, a so-called ‘Dog Whisperer’ is little more than a tyrant who will stop at nothing to reduce feisty and spirited characters into grovelling automatons whose lives revolve around the worship and idolatry of their so-called ‘masters’.
This is not what nature intended for our species!
It is in our nature to run free in packs, to guard our territory with vigour, to hunt for food and to defend ourselves against attack. What these dogs are doing is a result of primordial instinct.
What this man is doing is attempting to sanitise them of all that is normal and natural; to crush their spirits until their so-called ‘behaviours’ resemble those of house-inhabiting humans.
One reluctantly recalls the tragic, closing scene of that marvellous film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest when the maverick inmate played by Jack Nicholson is finally and irrevocably reduced to a dribbling, semi-conscious imbecile.
I felt the same sense of horror and revulsion when I watched this, too, knowing full well that by the end of it these poor, unsuspecting subjects will be robbed of their pride, their dignity and — indeed — their very raison d’etre.
I, for one, shall not be tuning in to watch this again. I beg you, on behalf of all canine citizens of Ulster, to extend to us the courtesy and consideration that we truly deserve and consequently reconsider your programming schedule forthwith.
BichonFrisee (Kennel Club GB&NI Reg)
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