DOGtv Might Just Be for the Birds

Photo | Maureen Stiles Singularly unimpressed, Murphy opened only one eye for DOGtv’s “Dog Park.”

Photo | Maureen Stiles
Singularly unimpressed, Murphy opened only one eye for DOGtv’s “Dog Park.”


When you write for a living, people are always suggesting topics to cover. I ignore most of them because my life is fodder enough—and because I am inherently lazy and writing about the old homestead takes zero research. But recently, I received a survey about DOGtv that simply could not be ignored.

Yes, people, DOGtv.

A television station developed specifically to entertain dogs while owners are gone. While I was cruelly leaving my dog, Murphy, to languish in his own thoughts, I could have been wowing him with videos about a day at the dog park or nature’s sights and sounds.

I expect the SPCA to come knocking any minute to address this gross mistreatment.

So, of course, I had to check it out. As I suspected, DOGtv was not included in my basic satellite package but the guide did verify that it is a real thing. I then turned to trusty Google to find out more. That led to a bonanza of Youtube videos with DOGtv samples.

I clicked on “Dog Park” and watched as various breeds scampered across my computer screen against a soundtrack of giggling children, random ringtones and birds chirping. There was a lot going on. I was thinking that if Murphy was watching this video all alone, it would really annoy him. Sort of like me watching “My Lottery Dream Home.” Entertaining? Maybe, but it does not make me feel so great about my current situation.

That video—fittingly—was in the stimulation category, so I switched to a sample of the relaxation videos. As the camera spanned bluffs and lush greenery, soothing music played. I sort of got it. But would Murphy?

There was only one way to know. I was hooking Murphy up with some canine cinematography. Since he was currently lounging at my feet, it was as simple as turning the “Dog Park” video on full screen mode and leaving the laptop on the floor.

Nothing.

Even if you count Murphy opening one eye when a child said, “Good Boy,” as a bona fide reaction, it was lackluster at best.

The survey I received said that most large US cities (New York, San Francisco and Seattle) were streaming DOGtv on the regular. Washington, DC, was in the top 10 as well. The DOGtv website touts all kinds of credentialed individuals like scientists, dog trainers and the Humane Society endorsing this programing. So, you know, basically everyone was wowed by it but me.

I thought back to the time when we watched “Hotel for Dogs” in the car and Murphy went nuts barking at the speakers and jumping all over the car. He was miserable and we almost crashed a couple of times before I finally hit pause. So our history in the dog viewing category was not stellar.

What was I missing?

In the middle of my quasi-scientific research, my youngest son wandered into the family room. I know you will be shocked to discover that my kids had been playing Youtube videos to get a reaction out of the dog for a long time.

Teens and Youtube = peanut butter and jelly. A matched set.

Classics like “Squeaky Toy” and “Howling Dogs” were bookmarked on my son’s phone. The first got a slight head cock from poor Murphy but I think mostly he wanted us to leave him alone.

Which is like anti-DOGtv.

I looked at the survey and info again and read that many dogs with anxiety found this type of programming helpful and healing. Murphy does not suffer from anything except an overdose of love and treats, a layer of excess fat and an unrelenting quest to catch a squirrel. Perhaps his cushy life accounted for his indifference.

But clearly millions of people in major cities all over the country were utilizing DOGtv to alleviate guilt or improve their pet’s life or both. I was still ruminating over the mechanisms available to gain feedback from the dogs about programming, when I noticed one of the top cities on the survey was Cresco, Pennsylvania.

What the heck was going on in Cresco that warranted record numbers of DOGtv enthusiasts? Cresco is nestled in the Poconos and is home to a pretzel and candy factory. And that’s about it. I think maybe the people of Cresco are mesmerized by DOGtv just like the animals. Some 5,000 residents can vouch for the fact that there is NOTHING else going on there.

Unfortunately, there is not going to be any DOGtv going on in my home, nestled in here in the ‘burbs. It’s more lack of funding for extra channels than lack of fondness for our old boy. I mean, not many other dogs’ antics are featured in a blog. That will have to be excitement enough for Murphy, I know it’s more than enough stimulation for me.

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