The stereotypical Jewish mother makes her children feel guilty. In real life,
it’s the other way round. The kids make the mothers feel bad.
And as if
that isn’t bad enough, I’m now feeling pressure from an unexpected direction: my
It seems that my poor old pooch is looking at me with sad eyes
because she hasn’t got anything better to look at. Like a canine TV
Now, not only do I feel that my son is possibly the only one in
his class without cable TV, but my dog, too, is feeling the effects of being
kept on a short leash, television-wise.
The recent announcement that
DOGTV was making aliya made me raise an eyebrow, if not my metaphorical hackles.
After all, who wants to get into an argument with their pet over the remote
Actually, the channel, available in Israel via the Yes satellite
company, is not so much making aliya as coming home. The channel dedicated to
dogs’ viewing pleasure is a blue-and-white product. The management comprises
executive chairman, president and founder of the Jasmine Group Yossi Uzrad, CEO
Gilad Neumann, and cofounder and chief content officer Ron Levi, all of whom
have Israeli media experience behind them – although to get the channel up and
running, they consulted with animal behaviorists and specialists abroad. The
product was first launched in the US, where the market is bigger; debuting last
February in San Diego, it reached some 483,000 homes in California’s
The idea is simple: While we owners go out to work
to bring home the Bonzo, our animal companions need to have something to keep
them occupied and stop them going barking mad. The perfect solution, according
to the enterprising media moguls for purebreds and mongrels, is a cable TV
channel dedicated to their special needs and tastes.
scientifically developed and Pup approved. DOGTV is cable’s first television
network for dogs that is created exclusively for canines, and the humans who
love them,” enthuses the company’s website.
“DOGTV provides television
for dogs with three types of programming offering relaxing and stimulating
content as well as positive behavioral reinforcements,” it goes on.
that are left alone tend to become anxious so the calming sounds and music in
the relaxing segments on DOGTV were created to keep them peaceful. Many dogs
also suffer from a lack of stimulation, which becomes acute when their parents
are away. The stimulating segments provide dogs with invigorating images,
animation and exciting real world sounds to keep them up and
“Unlike any other TV channel, every frame and every sound on
DOGTV is designed 100% for dogs.”
The company claims that years of
research led it to develop special content to meet the specific characteristics
of canine vision and hearing, such as enhanced coloring to emphasize details and
stress on contrast, brightness, and frame rate; and the use of sound effects,
music and specific ranges of frequencies that best suit dogs.
wish the company every success, in my case I think they may be barking up the
wrong tree. I usually work from home one day a week. This doesn’t give me a
chance to watch daytime TV, but it does offer me the opportunity to see what my
pets do all day: sleep.
It is pretty distracting in its own way to be
slaving over the computer while the dog and cats are all napping (and I won’t go
into details about how the gerbils spend their time; suffice it to say they
breed very rapidly.) The idea of special shows for dogs is not new. Some time in
the early 1990s, I was given a video to review which purported to be perfect for
pets whose owners had to leave them alone. It ran as a loop, repeating the story
every 20 minutes, if I recall correctly.
Ignoring the temptation to
prepare a bag of popcorn, I sat on the sofa with my dog in front of the TV, and
we watched together. Schmoo watched for about two minutes before getting bored;
I saw the whole film through, again and again. I’m not sure how long it took
before we both fell asleep. As with most daytime TV, I didn’t feel I was missing
DOGTV’s subscription-based channel claims to avoid this problem by
arranging its programing into three- to-sixminute segments of relaxing,
stimulating and behavior-improving footage “that work collaboratively to provide
just the right balance for the daily routines of our beloved ‘stay-at-home’
Cats, it seems, have different tastes.
My family has had
several felines who enjoyed various programs. Several of our cats would run to
watch nature movies, and two were particularly partial to sporting events –
Olympic marathons could actually make them postpone the important things in
life, like catnapping and licking their bums.
In the days when there was
only one channel in Israel – and only now do I realize how deprived that
apparently made kids and pets – one of my parents’ cats would wait until the end
of the broadcasts and then, in an only-in- Israel scene, jump up and follow the
silver yad (Torah pointer) that crossed the screen during the sign-off Psuko
Shel Yom – the minute-long segment that aired at midnight, reciting selected
daily biblical or religious verses. Paws for thought, indeed.
As a matter
of fact, rather than more 24-hour cable channels, I think we should bring back
what was known as “Psuko,” which not only enriched viewers (and their pets)
spiritually, but also encouraged them to go to sleep at a set and reasonable
hour. That was before our collective viewing habits and sleep patterns went to
My parents’ current dog, while lacking a rich Torah education,
does seem able to read English. Whenever the two magic words “The End” appear on
the screen, she figures it’s a good time to beg for a walk.
My own dog is
obviously missing out in life; at 15, she is beginning to suffer from cataracts.
This, I tell myself, is another reason I should not feel guilty about not
signing up for cable or Internet TV for her. I’m in favor of letting this
sleeping dog lie.
Dogs, being pack animals, probably could benefit from
company during the day when owners are out, as the DOGTV management
Instead of television, however, I suggest you adopt a cat as
well as a dog and let them keep each other entertained.
Call me dogmatic,
but I’m afraid that if it starts with television, it will end with demands to
spend hours on the computer. I have visions of couch potato pets. Already, DOGTV
has an Internet channel and phone application. Should I feel guilty that
I have so far denied both my son and my animals a smartphone?
I’m dreading the
day I come home to find my hound is begging to be my best friend on Facebook. Or
worse still, that my pooch prefers watching TV to going for a walk with