It’s 8:16 am
Woke up with a huge paw tapping my face,as I stirred,the cheetah leaped from the bed to the window and raised up the blinder….we had gotten yet another little blast of snow. It really been a winter to remember here in SE Michigan.
I get asked about how I pick the films we watch,while the cheetah does the picking of the three films,I do like to share different genres around. It’s one of the things I enjoy about reading different review sites. While I really like comedies,I don’t like the idea of ONLY reading about them,variety is the spice of life. And sometimes the movie that the cheetah picks just is unwatchable and if I really disliked it that much,chances are you are as well. I think our viewing tastes are pretty general except maybe I enjoy indie movies much more then most.
And I like documentaries as well,as I explained to a fellow buff at a library run,I look for those FIRST because they are the hardest to find in the wild,especially the IMAX docs.
Amazingly enough,the place I get some great documentaries at are the local Dollar Tree when they do their sales. These titles are often completely passed over and are almost always the last to sell. I snap up every one I see because of the rarity,no matter the subject. Which brings us to to today’s review…two episodes of PBS’s “Nature” program that were made into a double program by Thirteen WNET in New York and distributed by Questar of whom we have reviewed a film of theirs earlier.
The first episode is called “Katrina’s Animal Rescues” and it is one of the most heartbreaking pieces of television I have seen in a long time.
Hurricane Katrina,one of most poorly handled major disasters ever to hit the United States,happened in 2005. First the hurricane basically wiped out much of New Orleans and whatever the hurricane didn’t destroy,the floodwaters did. Tens of thousands were forced to evacuate with almost nothing but the clothes on their backs,they weren’t allowed to take any of their pets. Those people tried to spray paint who and what were in the houses in terms of animals.
Emergency animal shelters were set up and as the waters started to recede,rescues started to take place but the sheer amount of animals were overwhelming. Countless volunteers rushed to New Orleans from different animal groups to help rescue many types of animals…birds,fish,reptiles,horses,dogs and cats.
There several animal doctors and handlers at the shelter as many of the animals had been hurt and were either dehydrated or starving. Some animals were eager to be helped while others either swam or ran away because they scared. Many animals were trapped in homes and apartments where they ran out of food and water. These rescue groups,backed by the National Guard worked tirelessly to save as many as they could.
Louisiana helped by allowing animals to be transported out of state so more could be helped. Zoos and water parks also were effected as supreme efforts were made to save lives. The animals in the zoos,while safe,were in states of depression until the zookeepers invited ANG troops to come visit,the animals reacted so positively,they missed the human guests!
The episode,narrated by Laura Dern,talked about the stress put on pet owners who kept trying to return home to rescue their animals. This was perhaps the biggest and most important lesson we learned about Katrina,that people must be allowed to take their pets with them,the stress of not knowing destroyed a lot of lives,while Katrina’s band of animal heroes managed to rescue over 15,000 pets,235,000 more died of various causes.
One other thing that this “Nature” episode didn’t cover was the many animals adopted out by people who stilled tried or did keep the animal even when the original owner was found. My feeling is thus,if you take in a animal after an emergency like Katrina,I think for the first year you have to act like a foster and be ready to help reunite a family back together. Keeping someone’s pet after they have clearly have proven that is theirs only shows that evil has revealed just another shape of itself.
The second episode is entitled “Underdogs” and tells the stories of two dogs,Holly, a bloodhound and Herbie,a bearded sheepdog. Both dogs have come from hard backgrounds as they have been through many homes and now they have landed with perhaps their last best hope of becoming trained working dogs.
Holly is being trained in West Virginia by bloodhound expert Larry Allen while Herbie is being trained in the United Kingdom by Barbara Sykes. Both dogs only have about three months to prove that they can be handled.
Their stories interact as both dogs experience victories and set-backs and we can also see how different approaches are used to used to train the different breeds.
Both dogs are very friendly with humans but Herbie has the biggest mountain to climb in order to become a good sheep dog because his first instinct is to attack the sheep.
Barbara works tirelessly with Herbie and the road is hard,its a sure sign of love and dedication on Sykes’s part to get Herbie to settle down and work the sheep instead of going goofy and running pell-mell.
Holly,while a lot easier to handle,has her own hurdles to overcome,especially if she is to become a working K-9 dog. This includes handling loud noises like gunshots that Holly is deathly afraid of.
Allen trains Holly to track and we learn that bloodhound’s sense of scent is 10,000 times better then a human beings,once they lock on you,your only chance is to escape by car or water because on foot,you’re toast.
Holly gets a try-out for a Massachusetts state police and her assignment is an amazing one which she passes and goes on to become a fine police dog.
I loved both of these episodes,Underdogs was full of hope,joy and overcoming. “Katrina” will quite simply leave you in tears but also at peace knowing that pets did not die in vain as many states now agree that pets must be given a chance to evacuate. This of course puts pressure and rightly so,on the owners to move much faster and have a plan set in place to move when the order is given.
I can honestly tell you that I have a plan if I ever have to leave with the cheetah,his carrier plus extra food/litter is ready to move in 3 minutes. And I also know that if for some reason he couldn’t go,neither would I. He really is my family and you don’t leave family behind.
Both episodes have a run time of 56 minutes. Underdogs is rated “G” while “Katrina” is rated PG-13.
You can order this documentary on PBS’s website.