Don’t give the dog a bad name

Vinaya Patil
Sunday, 18 June 2017

Don’t Blame the Dog — the name says it all for this show to be aired on Sony BBC Earth from today. Executive producer Robi Dutta tells us more about it

Don’t Blame the Dog — the name says it all for this show to be aired on Sony BBC Earth from today. Executive producer Robi Dutta tells us more about it

Dogs come first, says Robi Dutta, about the concept of his show Don’t Blame the Dog that will air on Sony BBC Earth beginning today (June 19).

Dutta is the executive producer for Don’t Blame the Dog — a special series that will be aired under the Earth Explorers slot of the channel. The show challenges young dog owners with bad attitudes to live with people who depend on dogs for their very survival in extreme environments around the world.

“We identify such dog owners, take them away from their dogs, and put them into conditions that are alien to them,” Dutta says, explaining the modus operandi of the show.
How did they shortlist such people? Was it difficult doing so? “Not at all. Some we found through our research team and some were nominated by friends and family. Some came themselves too. There were all sorts of people — the ones who couldn’t train their dogs, or had problems feeding them or were treating them like toys. There was a variety of issues people had with their dogs,” he explains.

Experts agree that bad dog behaviour is mainly down to bad owners. Through the show, these people travel to stunning landscapes to live alongside people like sheep wranglers in Australia and those trying to prevent rhino poaching in South Africa. They learn the hard way that, when livelihoods depend on working dogs, the animals come first.

After being on the show, people’s dog outlooks underwent a sea change. “We could see the transformation in the way these people looked at their dogs and behaved with them,” the producer says.

Also most of these people were simply happy to experience some of the most amazing places and situations that people around the world deal with.

The show went across continents and countries — the USA, South Africa, UK, Australia, Canada and Alaska being some of them. Were the dogs-owners’ issues similar everywhere? “Almost,” answers Dutta. On being asked if the obsession with breeds, which is a common phenomenon in India, exists elsewhere too. “Not so much,” says Dutta, adding, “However, the craze for Huskeys is everywhere. Cold countries can manage to have Huskeys as pets but these dogs do face problems elsewhere.”

Speaking of his own experience of shooting for the show, Dutta says that he got to see and live some of the most adventurous and fun moments on the show. “We have lived in dog hotels that even had swimming pools for dogs. There was a place in Canada we visited where people climbed 80-feet walls along with dogs. It was part of a military establishment. That was quite a thing,” exclaims Dutta.

The show, he concludes, is not about the dogs only, but about the people too. It’s about how you treat your dog. “The show helps people look at these intricacies and see how people in harsh climate conditions treat their dogs and base their survival on these lovely animals,” he signs off.

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