It’s a popular yoga position and a new TV show.
The latest episode aired tonight. And yes, it moved me as it always does,
Downward Dog is about a dog named Martin and his relationship with his adoptive mom, Nan. The premise is from mostly Martin’s perspective as a dog, as a non- human, it’s about his love of Nan, his unflinching loyalty to her, but mostly, the complexity of his relationship with everything. From his loneliness when Nan goes to work to his confusion over her frustrations with her to her,job, to her very conflicted on again /
off againrelationship with a guy he obviously doesn’t trust or like. Martin knows. He feels her tears at night when she thinks he’s asleep.
The show wreaks of the special love between (wo)man and beast. Martin’s sad eyes are also his co-stars. Nan does a good job of showing enough love to her canine bestie and enough vulnerability to her human one. It’s an angst salad.
But this isn’t a comedy. One doesn’t walk away from viewing Downward Dog recalling it as a laugh fest, by any means, but there’s something odd and real about the credibility factor. Of course dogs don’t talk or think in complex existential ways. But what he says makes you think!
One of the show’s producers or writers voices Martin with slightly animated lip movement, Martin’s soliloquies of reasoning can be poignant, but he uses the word “like” as often a Kardashian, which irritates me to no end, but there’s a sweetness to what Martin feels and all he admittedly doesn’t understand about the human animal.
I worked at a animal shelter briefly in between Broadcasting gigs years ago. It was the worse experience ever, Members of Management were more racketeers than animal lovers,. I learned a lot working there. I tripped over a garment bag of dead or dying puppies placed by the facility’s front door. I saw a cat that had been so abused his eyeball was hanging out. I witnessed a wretched woman relinquish her dog because it no longer fit her lifestyle. The employees were no better. They had hardened, felt no empathy and only cared about money.
While there, I befriended a homely little mut. I had no idea what his background was, but you could tell it has been traumatic, Not all wounds are visible. He sat in the corner of his cage shaking. He never interacted with other dogs. Strange faces would appear in front of his cage everyday and look him over then over look him , then move along. I remember a day earlier his cage mate was adopted and a few days later, a yappy terriers mix two cages down, went home with a young family. Imalwayscfeltnhevwascawsrebofbthisvabdbitnonlynmadevhim mevfeel more unwanted. This sad little puppy has no idea he was loveable and adoptable. He just sat there with his head down mostly. I would imagine in his attempts at survival, eye contact often ended in pain of some sort. I can imagine he was kicked, yelled at, had things thrown at him, maybe someone even shot at him. It was obvious by his frail frame, food and water were hard to come by. Worse, still, it might even have been easier for him to find food than to feel safe.
I left that insiduious gig (no kill shelter, my ass!!!) a few days later, but went by his cage before I left. He wasn’t there, I prayed someone came by and saw beyond the fear, the trauma and pain and offered him a loving home,
FIve years ago, I adopted Bixby, the true love of my life, .as Nan adopted Martin on the show. As for the other homeless dogs and cats in the real world? I pray they all find homes and loving parents. But that’s impossible. I’ve always felt they were somehow very aware of their situations. Maybe even their sad fates.
But, as for Downward Dog, I like this show and after only two episodes, I always come away with a better understanding of how relationships,work, orvdhoukdveork neteer. Andvnot necessarily that between men and women, a woman and her dog, a woman and her job……or humans and the world around us, ; just relationships in general,
I wish this show success, but I don’t see it staying on the ABC Tuesday night’is lineup very long. It has too much heart and average American TV viewers doesn’t have enough of its to appreciate the nuances of its brilliance…of its humanity. They’d rather watch D-List actors dance, or cupcake cook offs or how truckers tackle snowy highways in the outback.
In yoga the pose, the Downward Dog energizes and rejuvenates the entire body. I don’t know if a show of the same name can have that affect, but it’s a sweet 22-minute (minus commercial time) look at the complex life of a philosophical,, but morose dog named Martin, who loves unconditionally, as much as a TV canine character can, for reasons he can’t even begin to understand.
It’s so complex, I don’t even think Martin’s human writers completely get it, either.