An Evening for Dog Lovers on WXXI-TV

An Evening for Dog Lovers on WXXI-TV

Wed, 10/12/2011 - 8:00pm - 11:00pm

Pictured: Aiden and his assistance dog, Nala

Credit: David Scott

A trio of documentaries starring the pets we love.

The evening begins Wednesday, October 12 with Nature's Dogs That Changed the World "Dogs by Design" at 8 p.m. followed by NOVA Dogs Decoded at 9 p.m. and Through a Dog’s Eyes at 10 p.m. on WXXI-TV/HD (DT21.1/cable 11/cable 1011).

Nature's Dogs That Changed the World "Dogs by Design" details a much more recent phenomenon: the explosion of the basic working dog types into the roughly 400 breeds known today. In mid-19th-century England, a growing middle class saw in Queen Victoria’s exotic Pekinese, a symbol of wealth, status, and leisure. Pet keeping as we know it arose, and the modern kennel club was born. The program explores concerns about today’s competitive breeding and its effect on dogs’ health and well-being, using sophisticated computer-generated graphics to show how it has dramatically altered the bulldog and other breeds. Along the way, Dogs by Design notes the original uses of such popular pets as terriers, bulldogs, and others. 

NOVA "Dogs Decoded" reveals the science behind the remarkable bond between humans and their dogs and spurs new questions about what this could mean for our relationships with other animal species. Dogs have been domesticated for longer than any other animal on the planet, and humans have developed a unique relationship with these furry friends. We treat our pets like a part of the family, and we feel that they can understand us in a way other animals cannot. Now, new research is revealing what dog lovers have suspected all along: Dogs have an uncanny ability to read and respond to human emotions. What is surprising, however, is new research showing that humans, in turn, respond to dogs with the same hormone responsible for bonding mothers to their babies. How did this incredible relationship between humans and dogs come to be? And how can dogs, so closely related to fearsome wild wolves, behave so differently? It’s all in the genes. Dogs Decoded investigates new discoveries in genetics that are illuminating the origin of dogs—with revealing implications for the evolution of human culture as well. NOVA also travels to Siberia, where the mystery of dogs’ domestication is being repeated—in foxes. A 50-year-old breeding program is creating an entirely new kind of creature, a tame fox with some surprising similarities to man’s best friend.

Each year, hundreds of people find hope through a handful of organizations across the country that train assistance dogs for people with disabilities. Through a Dog’s Eyes follows the journey of recipients as they go through the heartwarming and sometimes difficult process of receiving and becoming acclimated to a dog. Jennifer Arnold, founder of one of the nation’s largest service dog organizations, Canine Assistants, details her unique teaching methods, giving viewers an intimate look at the canine-recipient matching process. The program offers inspiring, hopeful stories that show how dogs can affect everyone’s life and how with a little patience and a lot of love, an “ordinary” dog can show how extraordinary he or she can become.