Downward Dog

 

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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 again relationship with this man he doesn’t like or trust.  Martin knows. Nan’s heart.   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 truly 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 very real about the credibility factor.    Of course dogs don’t talk or think in  complex existential ways.  But what Martin 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 he feels and all he admittedly doesn’t understand about the human animal.    But make no mistake, animals know love, .

And they definitively know cruelty.

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,.    Yesh, they’d become jaded considering what they had to do.  .bodies were burned byb7:00 each Wednesday,   The smell was horrible and were times when a light dust covered your winsshiells.  I  decided it had to be much like working for the Nazis at Treblinka.

Everyday there  was a nightmare.    I remember tripping  over a garment filled with dead and dying  puppies placed by the facility’s front door.   Just left there.     I saw a cat that had been so abused his eyeball was hanging out.    His severe burns almost seemed irrelevant.  I watched the soulless staff  hide piles of corpses of dead animals, they’d yet to incncerate when a TV crew came out to cover  a burglary .   They used to try  to hide the stench with this, sickingly sweet  air freshener,  that fooled  no one.   I once  witnessed a wretched woman relinquish the cutist  little  dog because it no longer fit her lifestyle.

While there, I befriended a homely little mut.  I had no idea what his background was, but  you could tell it had been traumatic,     Not all wounds are visible.   He sat in the corner of his cage  shaking.   He never interacted with other dogs.   I could only imagine what life’s hasnto be like,from inside that cage.     Strange faces would appear in front of his cage everyday and look him over or 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 out in the wild, , 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,, just 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 families in good, loving homes. .  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.    And not 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 think Martin’s human writers completely get it, either.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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