Wild, Wild World of Animals: September 2008

Posted by RabbitEars

Some programs of note for you animal lovers:

Animal Witness Animal Planet, Wednesdays beginning Sept. 3 at 9pm ET/PT. What if animals could testify to a crime? Thanks to dogged detective work and modern forensic science, they can. This new half-hour documentary series showcases amazing stories of animals helping investigators and forensic scientists solve high-stakes criminal cases. Each case unfolds through the unique perspective of the animal involved, whether it’s a cat, dog, bird, deer, or tiger. Keen-eyed detectives and scientists on the cutting edge of veterinary forensics will provide a voice for these powerful-but all too often silent-witnesses. The animals are ready to talk. Are we ready to listen?

Dog Whisperer: Dueling Pit Bulls National Geographic Channel, Sept. 5 at 8pm ET/PT. Pit bull owners Monica and Justin bring home a second pit bull, Trinity, to befriend their dog Sandi, but that plan backfires when the canines end up constantly at each other’s throat. They soon realize that they are going to need extra help taming the powerful pair. But time away at obedience school only made the dogs worse. Suddenly, the dogs are fighting on a daily basis, putting a strain on the couple’s relationship. Neither is willing to part with their favorite dog, so they structure their lives around keeping Sandi and Trinity apart. Can Cesar help the scrapping dogs get out of the aggressive “red zone” and learn to trust each other again?

Dogtown: Saving the Michael Vick Dogs National Geographic Channel, Sept. 5 at 9pm ET/PT, then Fridays at 10pm ET/PT starting Sept. 12. A heartbreaking story about cruelty becomes a heartwarming story about kindness and redemption in this look at what has become of 22 of the dogs rescued from Michael Vick’s dogfighting operation, dogs that were deemed as among the toughest cases for rehabilitation. The focus is on four of those dogs — Cherry, Meryl, Denzel and Georgia — as experts try to help them overcome their violent pasts and live happier, healthier lives. “A majority of the dogs that came to us are making a lot of improvement, and it’s just a matter of time before the ones we can adopt out will be in great, loving homes,” says John Garcia, lead trainer for the dogs.

Weird, True & Freaky Animal Planet, Sept. 7 at 10pm ET/PT, then Tuesdays at 9pm ET/PT beginning Sept. 9. An armless dog that sprints on two legs? Snakes swallowing massive mammals? Humans gobbling up bug appetizers? Dogs and cats living together? Mass hysteria! These rare and bizarre scenarios sound like punch-lines, but they are no laughing matter — this is serious science and this new series has the pictures to prove it. From klepto creatures caught on tape to unbelievable pet plastic surgeries, each episode tackles a true-life story. Features in-depth analysis of the footage and fresh insight from scholars, including Stanford University animal experts Dr. Jill Helms and Dr. Sophia Yin.

The Natural History of the Chicken PBS, Sept. 10 at 8pm ET/PT, or check local listings. Most people best know the chicken from their dinner plates — whether as thigh, wing or drumstick. Consumers rarely pause a moment to consider the bird’s many virtues. Filmmaker Mark Lewis (Cane Toads: An Unnatural History and Rat) expands the frontiers of popular awareness and delightfully reveals that this small, common and seemingly simple animal is as complex and grand as any of Earth’s creatures.

Dog Whisperer: 100th Episode Celebration National Geographic Channel, Sept. 19 at 9pm ET/PT. This special episode reunites Cesar with the real “stars” of the show on a special red carpet lined with fire hydrants, including more than 100 rehabilitated dogs and 250 trained owners from the past four seasons, such as fan favorites Wilshire the Fire Dog, Luna — one of Cesar’s toughest cases, Kane the Great Dane, the Pink Lady and her Pink Dog, and Pups on Parole. Dogs from all four seasons of the program celebrate with Cesar — dogs that used to be out of control, aggressive, timid or haunted by phobias. The episode also takes a look back at several fan favorite stories from past seasons, with an update on how the dogs — and the owners — are doing now. And back at the celebration, in addition to the red carpet arrivals for all the dogs from the past seasons, the party includes a pet trick contest and a special dual cake cutting — one cake for humans, and of course, one cake for dogs. Cesar is also surprised when his childhood idol, Lassie, makes a special guest appearance. And no Dog Whisperer reunion would be complete without a group pack walk — which is just what Cesar and the 250 humans and 100 dogs do to commemorate the grand reunion.

Nature: “Raptor Force” PBS, Sept. 21 at 8pm ET/PT, or check local listings. This fascinating repeat episode explores the world of raptors such as falcons, owls, eagles and hawks, and the unique abilities that make them masters of the sky. It also shows how aeronautics engineers use these abilities and body designs as the basis for new aircraft technology.

Squid Invasion Discovery Channel, Sept. 22 at 9pm ET/PT. No info was available for this show, but the title sounded so cool I just had to put it in. SCI FI Channel is kicking itself for not using this as an original movie title first.

Animals of Unusual Size Discovery Channel, Sept. 25 at 9pm ET/PT. Ditto above.

Nature: “Dogs That Changed the World — The Rise of the Dog” PBS, Sept. 28 at 8pm ET/PT, or check local listings. Another excellent repeat episode is the first of two parts, looking at how the hundreds of widely varied breeds of dogs managed to come from one common wolf ancestor.


Dogtown: © Molly Wald/Best Friends Animal Society. Courtesy of National Geographic Channel

The Natural History of the Chicken: Credit: Tamara Staples, Mark Lewis Radio Pictures, Inc.