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Pbs Goes On Hourlong Walk With Dogs

Shed that crusty outlook, dump the cynical mood and prepare to fall in love the old-fashioned way - with a dog.

Tonight PBS takes a not particularly deep but unabashedly cute walk with terriers, collies, retrievers and plain old mutts in a documentary called “Dog’s Best Friend” on PBS.

The show lasts an hour. (That’s 420 minutes in dog years.) And if you get too close, you might find yourself trying to pet the TV.

“Dog’s Best Friend” purports to examine the bond between humans and dogs and how much people learn from their pets. In truth, the word “examine” is a stretch. Any word implying depth would be a stretch. Basically, the show doesn’t get much beyond “people and dogs like each other.”

For instance, a psychologist says kids and dogs really seem to get along. Then a young girl says, “I can talk to (the dog) if I’m mad at someone. He would never tell my mother.”

So it’s shallow. So what? It’s adorable.

“Dog’s Best Friend” paints a bemused, friendly picture that leaves you feeling as if you just petted a dog, without the hair on your pants.

There are lots of close-ups of noses, lots of dog’s eye views, lots of earnest, fuzzy stares. The camera is aimed throughout with a whimsical eye, offering little dogs chugging along on important dog business, a husky sitting nobly in the bow of a canoe, and athletic dogs leading their jogging humans across a park.

And these are all just regular dogs, not the Lassie/Rin Tin Tin showbusiness bunch with their imported biscuits, caviar chew toys and crystal water bowls. There’s not one dog in the pack who saved anyone from a well, summoned the cavalry or stared down a Seattle radio psychiatrist.

But there are a handful of dogs who do stupid pet tricks, like the piano-playing collie (he walks on the keys) or Tootsie, the black Labrador who loves getting her teeth cleaned with an electric tooth brush. (“Everybody loves to kiss her,” says Tootsie’s owner.)

And there is a bona fide hero: Echo, the guide dog who saved his blind owner from a man stalking her. Echo one morning sensed the stalker’s ominous presence and growled enough to get his owner to call the police. The man later told police he was there to murder the woman.

As the dog’s owner tells this story, Echo just sits there looking nonchalant, giving it his best “it’s all in a day’s work” routine.

“Dog’s Best Friend” also presents a few stupid human tricks. There are two women who dress their extremely patient dogs in cowboy, clown or other circus costumes.

Then they put one besieged little poodle in a Mickey Mouse outfit, complete with big ears, huge bow and long black pants. What if he has to go to the bathroom, the dog’s owner is asked. “He doesn’t,” she answers.

But mostly there are stories of real caring and affection between human and dog.

xxxx Airing tonight ‘Dog’s Best Friend” airs tonight at 8 on Spokane’s KSPS-Channel 7 and at 7 on KCDT-Channel 26, Coeur d’Alene, and KUID-Channel 12, Moscow.

Tags: television

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