This compilation of exquisite, curated, top-quality footage of dogs is accompanied with incredible facts and stories about man’s best friend. In these trying times, ITV has brought us something that can do nothing but unite us: The Secret Life of Dogs.
Would it bring you joy to know that dogs are the only ones in the animal world able to understand what humans mean by pointing? Are you reassured knowing that oxytocin is released in both a dog and their owner when the two make physical contact, reaffirming your resolute belief that puppy therapy is the best therapy? Would you characterise the distinction between happy tail wagging (the tail going more to the right) and anxious tail wagging (the tail going more to the left) as a game changer? If you answered yes to any of those questions, this show is for you.
To start out the second series, The Secret Life of Dogs rolls out beautiful sets filled with pure grass, houses with white interiors and even a catwalk so that we had nothing to focus on but the dog in their newly invented context. If I had one criticism, I would question whether these cinematographically stunning shots clearly taken in a studio environment were secret, but some surprising information about the naughtier side of dogs sated my desire for canine secrets. Within the 40 minutes of cooing at my screen, I also managed to get the scoop on a common tell for dogs: holding their ears backwards. It turns out that if you come home to a dog whose ears have suddenly taken to a point further back on their head, you may have to start searching for a well-hidden accident or a no-longer-intact possession to explain your dog’s guilt. That, and, “weeing is the social media of the dog world.” Enough said.
This first episode of the second series doesn’t just betray the sort of fact-based content that we need, but tells us all of the top stories that will be essential for us to tolerate the more politically exigent stories. We meet a Jack Russell Terrier who cliff dives, a border collie with a thousand toys he can identify by name and even with an essay due tomorrow I would put watching my new four-legged-hero, Neo, do parkour at the top of my to-do list.
While this show features many talented dogs, this isn’t your pedigree-highly-trained-pony-show lineup: these are dogs who have learned from watching their owner, presented by The Secret Life of Dogs to demonstrate the intellect and potential of every single dog. More than highlighting the stars of the dog world, this show is about proving that dogs are the star of our world. I cannot help but agree. Perhaps this stunning display of the power and sanctity of dogs accomplishes no more than preaching to the choir; however, with such an enthusiastic and passionate choir, I don’t see a problem.
Image: Emily Hall