A Director’s Dog Daze

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#25 - Producer Writer Director Helen Slinger and her pooch Billie-Photo Katherine Daly Morris_Bountiful FilmsThe idea for Dog Dazed came in a moment of great personal embarrassment.

About two years ago I attended a public meeting in the Capilano River Regional Park near my home in North Vancouver – an information session about off-leash restrictions in the local watershed where I walk my dog. A large pack of area dog-owners attended, snapping and snarling at the very idea of limiting their dogs’ freedom.

As the proud owner of a 13-year-old Husky-Whippet X, I was amongst those rabid dog people.

I woke up the next morning very embarrassed that somehow I’d forgotten about the natural environment. Oops! A classic example of human myopia – always rich territory for a documentary. The research for Dog Dazed began that day.

Why is it such a hot button topic now?

Changing demographics (empty nester baby boomers, child-delaying millennials, more people staying single) means we are now seeing more dogs than children in homes. US figures in 2010 showed that 39 million American households included kids, compared to 43 million with dogs.

Why are we so dog dazed? There’s fascinating new research about just how dogs ingratiate themselves into our homes – and into our hearts.

When dog owners care so passionately about their dog, and with so many dogs (84 million across North America) there is a point of friction – not everyone loves dogs and what they do (and leave) in the environment. This has led to some feisty skirmishes…and a planning nightmare for civic authorities.

This was a natural project on which to team up once again with legendary animator Cordell Barker. His comedic genius allows us to laugh at our foibles, making them easier to see and, perhaps, to accept.

We criss-crossed the continent to hear stories from the battlefields of dog wars, and to find some solutions to the insanity. In the end, Dog Dazed celebrates our love affair with dogs, and all their delightful dogginess – while encouraging a new relationship that is more respectful of wildlife and non-doggy people. – Helen

Dog Dazed airs on CBC Doc Zone on Thursday, March 21 – 9pm/9:30 NT


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