Barking Blondes: Pooches on the box, doggy boutiques and Paul O’Grady
Putting dogs on ‘the box’ is dangerous territory, we should know as we probably contribute to a large percentage of it. You only have to read some of the weekly comments under this blog to realize that where animal welfare is concerned, there really is a fine line between entertainment and education.
Paul O’Grady’s series set in Battersea Cats and Dogs Home is brilliant. A true animal lover with his own farm, this is the perfect vehicle for the comedian. His dog Buster broke new ground a while back when he appeared by O’Grady’s side on his daily chat show. The much-prized china images of Buster are now appearing on ebay. Sadly, he is no longer with us but his popularity, when O’Grady made the transition from comic to presenter, was a massive contribution to the chat show’s success.
This new series takes us on an emotional journey behind the scenes of the country’s most famous rescue centre. O’Grady’s obvious delight and then despair at the dogs he is introduced to throws up so many issues. If we truly are ‘a nation of animal lovers’ how can we possibly excuse the inhumane, cruel behavior of some owners towards their pets? The programme offers no solutions, it is not over-produced or heavily scripted, but simply allows the presenter to be as soppy or as incensed as he feels.
Some kind executive producers must have phoned O’Grady’s agent and offered his client a project as recompense for years of interviewing a sofa full of celebrity ego maniacs. And thank God, they did.
Then there is ITV 2’s Top Dog Model, we have to come clean and admit that at the beginning of the summer we were screen tested as presenters for this series. Deep in the heart of Soho, along with our dogs Molly and Matilda, we were called into a studio and on camera were shown a series of photographs. Each was a head shot of a dog and we were asked to comment on their image. The format was still a bit sketchy and we waited to hear back from them. We are still waiting.
Is the programme entertaining? Is it educational? Does it exploit dogs? Does it ridicule owners? It’s an area we have been forced to confront over the years given our history in the media. Should dogs become models? Well, our two have been in front of a lense more often than us. Did they know what was expected of them at the time? We will never know. They usually pose for treats.
Were they dressed up? Yes. On occasions. Sometimes for practical reasons, such as coats for keeping joints warm but sometimes for comic effect. Were they amused? They didn’t seem to behave any differently than when they weren’t dressed. Doggy boutiques along with dog portraitures are springing up everywhere. Some may say that it’s another sign of overindulgence.
This week, Battersea Cats and Dogs home ironically expressed a growing concern over an increased number of spoilt pets. On the one hand they deal with the effect of man’s cruel sadistic nature and on the other, they watch us killing our dogs with love. Over fed and over indulged. We have bred a generation of “I want I get “ children. Is this now reflected in our care for domestic animals?
We urge you to dip into both TV series and tell us what you think. We know which one has our vote but then again, it may just be sour grapes.
Barking at the Moon is on every Thursday from 10pm to midnight on BBC London 94.9FMTagged in: Battersea Dogs Home, dogs, Paul O'Grady, pet care, Top Dog Model
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