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How My Dogs Watch TV

Butterfly at the computer

Butterfly at the computer

 

 

After twenty years of loyal service to the family, my small color TV finally collapsed a few years ago and we were forced to update. Cricket had been indifferent to the TV for the most part, until the flat screen arrived. Suddenly, she noticed strangers in her house. She stood in front of the TV and barked at Hugh Grant and tried to push at him through the screen. She searched behind the TV to see where the invader had come from.

Cricket prefers to watch Grandma

Cricket prefers to watch Grandma

Cricket is mostly indifferent to the TV now. But she does notice when the TV goes off, because that’s an important signal that something in her environment is going to change. Maybe her people are going to bed and she has to choose which room to visit, or maybe she’s going out for a walk, or, worst option, maybe her people are leaving the house without her.

The television is a big part of my life. I use it for background noise while I’m typing or cooking. I use it for company when I’m lonely. I use it for mood alteration when I get depressed. I had to make a point of not keeping a TV in my bedroom, because I’d never get to sleep.

When Butterfly first came home from the shelter, she was mesmerized by the TV. She was barely making eye contact with her people yet, but wherever she was in the living room, her eyes and ears were focused on that TV. I picked her up on my lap to watch a video on the computer of another Lhasa Apso, just like her, growling about something. She was fascinated. She couldn’t look away from the screen. Cricket could have cared less. She did the doggy equivalent of rolling her eyes, but Butterfly was riveted.

Side view of Butterfly - riveted

Side view of Butterfly – riveted

 

Cricket has just finished rolling her eyes

Cricket has just finished rolling her eyes

 

Butterfly was sleeping when the puppies came on the TV. I was watching a show called “Too Cute” on Animal Planet, where they follow puppies and kittens from birth to adoption. And the puppies started to squeak. Butterfly stood up, looked around in confusion and then walked over to the staircase behind the TV. She looked up, as if the puppies were up in the attic and she needed to go to them.

I’ve often thought I should leave the TV on for the dogs when I go out, in case they get lonely or bored. But Cricket tends to wait for us on the stairs, avoiding the living room entirely. Butterfly might watch the TV, but then I worry about what will be on. Even if there’s something cute and fluffy on when I leave the house, I might come back to crocodiles terrorizing puppies in a back yard. And I don’t think Butterfly would survive that.

 

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About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

57 responses »

  1. I LOVE “Too Cute.” And I love animals reactions to television. My mom’s late chihuahua actually had preferences for certain television shows. Some she’d watch with my mom religiously, others she turned her nose up on and wouldn’t pay attention too.

    My smaller cat, Derick, loves television. He’ll watch entire movies with us. He loves this particular documentary on The Turtles. When the music starts to play, he’ll run in the room! If he’s ever antsy and can’t sleep, we’ll put the Turtles movie on to calm him down, and then he’ll just lay calmly and watch the entire movie! 🙂

    Reply
  2. I love the food channel. Kaci loves dog shows. He once had a cat that batted at the puck when ice hockey was on and was a riot.

    Reply
  3. We’re terribly frugal with tv but in the winter, when we give in, everything is fine until there are dogs in the film… We’re sure it would be easier if they met these non locals more often 😉

    Reply
  4. My doggies seem to ignore the TV for the most part, but their ears perk right up if I play a video featuring one of them! I like to watch videos on my iPhone in bed–YouTube (I’m a sucker for “X-Factor” and other talent auditions) and ones that I’ve filmed myself. Not long ago I recorded my Yellow Lab Marley catching a frisbee. Playing that one back in bed was a BIG mistake. Two or three of my guys jumped right up in bed with me to see what the heck was going on! Things got a little crowded. 😉

    Reply
    • I’m picturing a paw holding an iPhone. Both dogs would carry their personal phones around all day, to watch movies of themselves, and to tell me that it is time to take them for another walk. It’s only been fifteen minutes since the last one, after all.

      Reply
  5. We can’t watch shows with puppies of any kind or animals in distress; Sugar goes crazy. She loves watching wolves, though, and I finally got her to stop licking the laptop screen chasing after the cursor.

    Reply
  6. Both my dogs would bark at a doorbell sound on t.v. I would leave the radio on when I left the house to distract them from outside noises, but every now and then I’d come home and the radio would be off and they’d be sitting there watching Oprah on t.v. I had gotten a new cable box and it seems that whenever the electricity would flicker, it made the t.v. come on and the radio wouldn’t come back on without manually turning it on.

    Reply
  7. They are soo cute!
    Love this!

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  8. precious! Kyleigh likes to watch TV too! She barks when she sees other dogs!

    Reply
  9. Damn I miss my dog. Her name was Jet… I love the way you love that fluffy “sheep” of yours. Have a great day.

    Reply
  10. Pet Sitter Diaries - Pacific Tales

    Hi Rachel,

    Thanks for following. I’m 100% sure it is my fault, but sometimes people follow my business blog instead of the Pet Sitter in Paradise one. When you get the chance just follow this one:
    http://petsitterdiariespacifictales.wordpress.com/

    Did I see somewhere that you are from Long Island? I grew up in Centerport. Your dogs are seriously cute, they remind me of Wilford Brimley. (You might be too young to get that reference)

    Reply
  11. Chancy and Mumsy (Mag)

    How cute watching TV. Chancy has no interest in it at all. He will not look at the screen even when I try to get him to look at a dog on TV. There has been a few times when he was sleeping and a dog would bark on TV and he would bark lightly in his sleep. Once he ran to the window and looked out when a dog barked on TV, he thought it was outside. Those pictures are adorable. Hugs and nose kisses

    Reply
    • I wonder sometimes if the dogs are picking up unconscious messages from the TV while they are sleeping. Like, are they hearing the dog treat commercials and planning their next trip to the store?

      Reply
  12. So Cute! I don’t have any animals of my own. No pets allowed in my apartment and I have allergies. But I like reading about others animals.

    Reply
  13. I stopped by to say thank you for visiting my blog and liking a post, so…thank you! The thing is, I got so absorbed in your blog that I ended up staying much longer. Your stories are sweet and informative and very well written. You really have talent, Rachel, and of course you have such wonderful subjects to write about – The Girls (I’m including Grandma in that group!). Please smooch all three of them for me. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit, thank you for sharing such great stories.

    Reply
  14. So glad I found your blog… I’m so new to blogging right now and am really enjoying reading about everyone’s dogs. Your dogs are super cute!!!!

    Reply
  15. they are sooooo precious!

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  16. This is a cute post, but I’m not a fan of television. You don’t have much control over what you or the dogs are exposed too. Listening to music is a better choice for altering moods and there have been studies on dogs and classical chamber music. Check out the Through a Dog’s Ear Project.

    Reply
    • I used to play a lot of Bach for her, or for me really, and it helped her during nap time, but I don’t know if it would make a dent when I’m not home. Maybe they should invent an ipod for dogs, like a micro chip implanted in her collar so she couldn’t tear it off when she’s mad.

      Reply
      • There’s the dilema of the dog suffering anxiety when left alone for hours in silence, but playing constant music in the background is probably not the answer either. Some day humans will discover the balance.

  17. Maggie likes the Food Network channel on TV if I’m gone for any amount of time. No violence. Just happy cooking and laughter! 🙂 🙂

    Reply
  18. Great post! One of my dogs-Jack Henry loves to watch television-especially the big flat screen at a neighbor’s house-it does not seem to matter what is on-it is the movement and noise that appears to attract him-
    Thank you too for taking the time to visit my blog-I appreciate it-

    Reply
    • I can only imagine how Cricket would respond to a full screen at a theatre. At the very least she would annoy the hell out of the other patrons. I’m starting to think my flat screen is too small for her.

      Reply
  19. Pet Sitter Diaries - Pacific Tales

    Hi Rachel,

    Thanks as always for the likes. Haven’t seen you post in a while. All ok?

    Reply
  20. My Lucy will awaken from a dead sleep to bark at dogs and horses on television. She loves the Cartoon Network and her favorite commercial is for the antidepressant, Zoloft – the floating egg keeps her attention.
    Thanks for stopping by my Post!

    Reply
  21. awesome post Rachael

    Reply
  22. So cute! My dog Zoe tries to play x-box. She jumps up with the avatar, and can even open the disk tray with her nose. I think she thinks she is magic–which she is.

    Reply
  23. THANKS SO much for your like

    Reply
  24. I loved this post. Like Cricket, my husband would also like to bite Hugh Grant.

    Reply
  25. Zed could care less even though he has given himself the job of ‘repelling boarders’. We have had a projector for many years so the image is huge and Honey is sure it is a window and anything with four legs gets a big serve. She also does not like dark skinned people…… my small white dog is prejudiced! It is extremely white were we live but that is no excuse!

    Reply
    • Cricket is prejudiced against dogs who are bigger than she is, unless they are golden retrievers, the supermodels of the dog world. When she was three months old she met a huge golden retriever at the beach and almost tried to cuddle with her. Very out of character for my grumpy Cricket.

      Reply

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