Netflix Dogs reviews have been sparkling through webpages worldwide and for all the right reasons. The six-part documentary series is master storytelling at its very best!
When the cute thumbnail of a husky showed on my Netflix curated watch list, little did I know of what was to come with the genre-bender. Dogs goes beyond comic canine videos to the very thread of life as we know it. This precious trove of moving tales, venturing from the US to Syria, Italy to Japan and Costa Rica is not only visually stunning but breath-taking. Depicting how cultures as diverse are all woven by the affection for dogs.
See also: Pick of the Litter
What Glen Zipper and Amy Berg have done really well with Dogs is to veer the focus away from the good boys that everyone knows dogs are — to their sidekicks, the humans. Every featured dog is loyal and loving but their story signifies something far more complicated.
Netflix’s Dogs is a triumphant documentary series which celebrates dogs and their people in a tender but true light– it can get pensive and funny, at short notice. A must-watch!
Netflix Dogs review
Episode 1: The Kid with a dog
The series’ first episode brings us up, close and personal with Corrine, an 11-year-old with epilepsy, and her wait for, a service dog. The camera doesn’t shy away to show the torment that the little girl (and the parents) go through in an epileptic attack, till the time Rory, the service dog comes to help.
The 12-day training camp where service dogs meet their humans — kids with disabilities reveals all the hard work and dedication that often goes behind the scenes.
Episode 2: Bravo, Zeus
The second episode brings Syria war from the safe distance of a news headline to your living room. The intricate emotional connection between separated friends – Ayham, a refugee in Berlin and his dog, Zeus in Damascus is bound to get you misty-eyed. You get to know so much about the everyday life in a war-torn city through the pixelated Facetime calls – the bombing, the sirens and even the innocence of the kids who forget the travesty of terror, if only momentarily, during their daily interactions with Zeus.
The most innocent of a war’s victims are animals for they know no concept of borders. From Manto’s Dog of Tetwal to Spielberg’s War Horse artists’ have tried to bring this truth home. It would truly take a heart of stone to not root for Zeus, signifying all that’s pristine and innocent, amid the futility of war.
Episode 3: Ice on the Water
Directed by Emmy-winning filmmaker Richard Hankin, Ice on Water encapsulates the camaraderie between Alessandro, a fisherman in Italy, and his dog Ice. The diminishing catch in Lake Como and the younger generation’s disinterest in running the family business forms the backdrop of this drama. Ice remains the only constant in Ale’s daily life in these turbulent times of climate change and generational shifts.
On many levels, it reminded me of Laurie Anderson’s ‘Heart of a Dog’.
Episode 4: Scissors down
The fourth episode in the documentary series is about two Japanese groomers participating in a competition. If you wanted to know about the canine fashion and grooming – not to forget the cultural touch, this is your go-to episode.
But even this funny take has its moments as Kenichi Nagase, the groomer philosophically remarks “Human relationships are so complex. Dogs make life simple. Dogs never betray your trust. ”
Episode 5: Territorio de Zeguates
Costa Rica’s dog sanctuary Territorio de Zeguates is home to nearly a thousand dogs who roam its hundreds of acres. But this doggy heaven faces troubles as the country’s municipal board intervenes to check on the canine population.
It is amazing to know of what goes behind the running of this land, how a community of dog lovers and volunteers dabbles with limited resources to realize a common dream – save every dog possible.
Episode 6: “Second Chances”
The series finale features the inspiring story of dog rescuer Anna (of Hearts and Bones). She drives at-risk dogs (those on the death list) across the country in hopes of finding them forever homes in New York City. A network of volunteers works alongside her to save dogs and find them potential homes.
The series co-curator Glen Zipper adores dogs and it shows in his work.
“For the last 14 years — through successes and many more frequent failures — Anthony (my dog) has always been there for me. With his wagging tail at the door after a long, hard day … And, most importantly, with his constant, unrelenting, unconditional love. Dogs don’t just make us feel loved, dogs make us feel safe. They allow us to venture out into the world, take our lumps and come back to the best friend any of us could ever want or imagine …
Our love for them speaks to our unanimity of needs. Love. Friendship. Companionship. Loyalty. We all want these qualities in our lives, and dogs are the only souls on the planet who guarantee us each and every one of them in spades.”— Glen Zipper
The documentary ‘Pick of the litter’ follows five Labrador puppies – Patriot, Phil, Poppet, Potomac and Primrose as they undergo training to become guide dogs for the blind.
It begins with a prologue in which sight-challenged persons recall how guide dogs saved their lives — from speeding cars and even the 78th floor of a World Trade Center tower. The two aspirants who need guide dogs are shown next – a partially sighted working woman and a man who lost vision early in his childhood. Both are buoyed with the adventures that a guide dog will bring into their lives.
Pick of the Litter Review
The reality show like template comes to fore here and the camera follows the ‘P litter’ right from their birth all the way through to the 20 months of training.
The trainers also have a euphemism for pups who miss out on making as a guide dog —“career-changed”. These dogs become a pet or a parent to future guide dogs.
Whether or not the pups graduate adds a tint of drama into the narrative. This suspense is interwoven into the narrative and you’d be holding your breath as the pups undergo tests like avoiding traffic.
Unlike police dogs or anti-terror dogs, guide dogs aren’t only taught to obey commands, but also to disobey them. They need to exercise judgment against their human’s wishes so as to save their lives. Over the course of the documentary, it is shown how handlers train the dogs to disobey when they are given orders like marching onto the traffic.
It is awe-inspiring to see how many humans help at every stage of this journey – volunteers, foster families, trainers, and vets. Their heartache and delight in seeing their pup’s journey to help improve the life of a visually challenged person make for riveting viewing.
Complement this with watching is Quill, the Life of a guide dog (2004)
Dogs are special. They fill us up with unbridled joy and happiness – whether as a friendly doggo at work, a beloved pet or a working dog. Pick of the litter pays glowing tributes to these amazing pooches who go on to be the brightness in a life threatened by darkness.
Pick of the Litter is a wonderful reminder of the extraordinary relationships we have with our dogs. This uplifting, big-hearted celebration of the unique bond between humans & dogs deserves to be seen. After all, they are all good dogs and deserve all the love!
Guide Dogs for the Blind program began in 1942 to aid blinded soldiers back from World War II. Every year they train and match their guide dogs among some 1,100 applicants.