There need to be more reality shows on television that feature dogs. I never thought I would type those first nine words. Let me paraphrase. There need to be more dog shows on television. One could make the argument there are plenty of dog shows on Animal Planet and other cable, specialty channels. That’s not enough for me any more. There is a wide, dog-less hole in network television howling to be filled. I can’t think of a single show since Lassie – or the better, Canadian equivalent, The Littlest Hobo – that gave a dog a prominent role. It’s just wrong.
I came to this conclusion after reading Elsa Watson‘s latest book, titled The Love Dog. When I was approached to review the book, I had no idea I could be sucked in to the idea of a reality show – even one that stars a gorgeous Golden Retriever. Especially a dating reality show. Yes, I love dogs. But my disdain for dating shows knows no bounds. I pride myself on being one of the least sentimental people on the planet. Heck, I don’t even know the date of my own anniversary! Shows about romantic love hold little interest for me. I have yet to see one episode of The Bachelor. Yet, it wasn’t long after I opened The Love Dog that I was hooked on central concept.
Elsa Watson is on to something pretty brilliant.
I should clarify that her book is a work of fiction. It is a story about a dog named Apollo who had been trained to perform on a reality program designed to repair relationships. Like most reality shows, this one is scripted. Well, at first anyway. It becomes bit more complicated than that but I don’t want to give too much away.
The story is light, fun, and entertaining, even if you have no interest in reading about a celebrity canine. The narrative is broken up into different parts and perspectives, which gives a full picture of each character’s experiences. My favourite parts, naturally, were those written in Apollo’s point of view.
Author Watson has a great handle on the rich inner life I like to think dogs lead. Apollo is a special dog for a lot of reasons but he still experienced many of the same desires of many dogs I know. I really appreciated the delicate approach the book applied to his emotions without overly anthropomorphizing. It did not surprise me at all to learn from her website that Elsa Watson lives with two equally special dogs. Their inspiration definitely comes through in her writing. I knew immediately I would like the book’s writer when I read her motto: “Any day on which you pet a dog is a good day.”
Can’t argue with that.
It might sound silly, but I think a show like the one Watson created in her novel, would be just as big a success in real life. I’d love to see an actual televised version of The Love Dog. Disdain for corny romance aside, I do believe dogs have the ability to bring people together. It’s always beautiful to watch people fall in love with their animals. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, my PH’s cat was one of the largest reasons I agreed to go out with him. He is proof our pets are capable of uniting us. It’s time a major network gave a dog a chance to reach fame in our living rooms once more.
Or perhaps I am just as sentimental as everyone else after all.
If you would like to meet Apollo yourself, I have some happy news! One lucky reader has a chance to win a copy of Elsa Watson’s latest book right here on this blog. To enter, just leave a comment below by Friday, February 1st at midnight Pacific. I’ll run them through Random.org and announce the winner next week! Thank you so much for participating!