Charlie Mitchell: Dogs shouldn't ruff it, satellite TV provider says

August 19, 2013 9:36:07 AM



OXFORD -- This is too easy. 


A satellite TV channel for dogs was launched this month. 


Not about dogs. 


For dogs. 


To watch. 


For $4.99 (plus tax) per month (in addition to basic fees, other charges). 


I'm sure they've already hired a director of program development, but just in case, some ideas: 


· Game Show: "How High Can You Go?" Male contestants only. To be recorded on a set with ample trees, preferably with bark that shows moisture well. 


· Superhero: "Cat Stalker." The protagonist/star responds to the desperate woofs of fellow canines whose lives are being complicated by overly wiley felines. In each episode, the star innovates -- creates a household mess for which the cat is sure to be blamed. 


· Documentary: "Great trees of America." This will be an homage to well-placed, convenient trees without a lot of pesky undergrowth or fencing at their bases. It should only be shown in selected markets. (Would be too nerve-wracking for dogs who live in the desert, plains or other treeless regions.) 


· Comedy: "Hey, That's Not A Tree." Home video clips of dogs (mostly male) making urinary miscalculations. 


· Educational: "Training Your Human." A wide-ranging series offering tips and techniques to convince your people that it is OK to sleep on their beds, chew on their shoes, explore their garbage and, perhaps most importantly, dine at their tables. 


· Mystery: "What's That Smell?" or, alternatively, "Is That You?" Based loosely on "What's My Line?" from the 1950s, blindfolded dogs take turns identifying substances or other dogs they have previously encountered. 


· Action: "Smash That Cat." Part horror, part James Bond. In each episode a variety of cats expend their ninth lives in a series of brutal mishaps. Special episodes feature squirrels instead of cats. (Mature audiences only.) 


· Instructional: "Dog Food? I'm Not Eating Dog Food." Episodes center on tricks, tips and hints to elicit invitations to the dinner table. The "teacher" starts each episode by saying, "They say I'm a member of the family, but they don't eat out of a bowl on the floor, do they?" 


· Inspirational: "Magic Words." Offers advice on how to motivate someone to say those wag-inducing words, "Good Dog!" 


· Competition: "Dogs Playing Poker." Hint: The dog without a tail always wins. 


· Sitcom: "My 13 Puppies." A romp. Follows the daily antics of a mom and her frustrations in coping with the wily antics of her latest litter. The runt, of course, is the show's star. 


· Competition: "Howl Off." Each week, a field of contestants chosen in local auditions all across America is slowly narrowed to a champion. Three wolves sit as a panel of judges. 


· Sports: "NASCARCHASING." Some shows don't end well, but, honestly, that's why many members of the audience tune in. 


As Louis Armstrong sang so well, it is a wonderful world. 


Curious, too. 


Think about it. 


Special television programs for children -- "Sesame Street," "The Electric Company" -- started a long time ago. Those early programs have expanded into entire channels for children. For the most part, they're free -- or included in basic cable or satellite packages. 


Not so for dogs. TV for them will be a premium purchase. 


It wasn't that long ago that hardware stores in most Mississippi towns would have a "pet supply" rack. Worm medicine. Collars. A couple of brushes. Groceries had cans and sacks of dog food. Three brands, maybe four. 


Larger towns might have had actual pet shops. But they were always small. Never really busy. Usually run by retirees. 


Contrast that to today's big box stores with multiple aisles stacked wide and high with varieties of pet cuisine and supplies. Specialized store chains now cater to the pet trade. Some even have fitting rooms for trying on pet costumes and clothing in appropriate privacy. 


In the olden days, animals were taken to the veterinarian if sick or hurt. Today's vets are on a first-name basis with their clients. Owners receive texts when it's time for a physical or wellness check. 


Things have gotten better in the world of pets. 


It's not as ruff as it used to be. 


I hear a cat channel is next. 


It will be simpler. 


Just a camera focused on a tank of tropical fish. 


Cats are easy. 


Potential pitfall? Football season is beginning. If the dog comes in during an SEC contest and whines to watch, "Hey, That's Not a Tree," I'm thinking the plug will be pulled on pet programming. 


There are limits.