Pound Pups: On the side of the underdogs

I tried fostering dogs for a local rescue shelter a while ago.

Turns out I’m hopeless at goodbyes and as a result we’re now a four-dog household.

So, with my flag firmly in the dog-loving camp, I was keen to get a new look at local reality series Purina Pound Pups to Dog Stars (Mondays, 7.30pm, TV One) – cute dogs and an end to Monday nights watching people trying to lie their way through customs with narcotics and live chickens in Border Security.

Happy days. And happy days for ex-pound dogs is what the show is all about.

In New Zealand, it takes just seven days and a failed behaviour test for pound dogs to end up euthanised. Auckland-based animal behaviour expert Mark Vette tries to help those death-row dogs back into society.

Last night, he met a beardie cross called Ralphie, who had all sorts of problems. Well, who wouldn’t have if they’d been chained up for 18 months There was even talk of anorexia. Dog anorexia I can’t leave the butter on the kitchen counter top in case one of my dogs manages to reach it with the old stretch-and-sideways-head manoeuvre.

But poor old Ralphie wouldn’t even touch a bowl of food put in front of him.

Vette took him back to his behaviour centre and, along with one of the trainers, set about helping him.

There were some initial stumbling blocks but they all seemed to be overcome relatively quickly and in a couple of weeks Ralphie went off to live with a jolly-looking lady who already had a bit of a doggie family.

Job done.

It was a nice bit of light viewing that left me feeling a little bit happier than when I first sat down.

Sure, at times it was almost too light and I would have liked to see a bit more of Mark Vette in action with Ralphie.

At the end I still didn’t really know how they’d dealt with Ralphie’s problems, but it turned a pound dog into a happy dog and what sort of curmudgeon can argue with that

If you like your dog-rescue shows a bit more gritty, then try Pitbulls and Parolees (Saturdays, 10.30pm, Animal Planet). This long-running American reality show features the Torres family, headed up by slightly frightening matriarch Tia. Together they run the Villalobos rescue centre for pitbulls in New Orleans. And they have prison parolees help out at the centre – so it’s much-maligned people helping much-maligned dogs.

It feels like a case of second chances all round and the show has proved pretty popular. The fifth series started this Saturday. The family and their sagas are key, all interwoven with dog rescues. It’s a familiar reality format with moments of highly edited drama and quite a lot of moments of nothing much actually happening at all. But I must confess I’ve become hooked. I’ve always been on the side of the underdog.

Ad Feedback

– Stuff