December 15th, 2008

Osiris, Cy

My Kind of Reality Television

I’m here to talk up my two favorite new TV shows, Dogs 101 and Cats 101, both showing on Animal Planet. I’ve seen a lot of shows over the years about dogs and cats, but these two take it to a new place.

The format, design, and narrator of the two shows are the same. Each one-hour program examines four or five separate breeds. Each breed is analyzed in terms of its health concerns, typical disposition, care considerations, and appropriateness as a family pet. It’s all done in a lively, entertaining format, with lots of adorable animals and plenty of side trips into trivia and anecdotes about the breed being covered. One feature I particularly enjoy is that they always take a moment to look back through the years (or centuries) to look at how the breed originated and which breeds were combined to create it. In some cases, there are breeds of dog that were created long ago from older breeds that no longer exist. For one reason or another, those varieties fell out of favor and were no longer bred, until they disappeared as distinct breeds.

Here are a few pieces of trivia I’ve learned from watching these shows:
— The Boston Terrier is the gassiest breed of dog. The shape of its muzzle causes it to swallow a lot of air while it is eating, and this air ends up going all the way through the dog’s digestive tract and out the other end.
— There is an unusually large breed of cat called the Savannah that is created by mating a regular shorthair cat with a certain large wild cat. The resulting animal retains some flashes of its wild side and is banned in several states.
— The Basset Hound was bred with short legs not only so it could track scents near the ground, but also to make it slow enough for a hunter to walk with while it tracks.
— There is a breed of cat called the Egyptian Mau that traces its lineage back to ancient Egypt. Besides the fact that it has a gorgeous spotted coat, I love the fact that “Mau” is the Egyptian word for cat. Frankly, it makes a lot more sense than the English word – I’ve yet to hear any feline voice anything that sounded like “cat.”

There’s a lot of info about both shows on the Animal Planet web site, including video excerpts from the shows. If you’d like to see the Cats 101 site, click right here!

Also, their broadcast schedule is a little irregular, but they’re usually on Saturday nights, with occasional additional broadcasts here and there during the week. Check your local listings!
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