I was watching the Colbert Report last night. I think Stephen Colbert is great; he is very funny, knows how to get a message across and really talented. That said, I was really angry as I watched one of his pieces on the Super Bowl, where he is demoted basically to the Puppy Bowl. Most dog lovers know about the Puppy Bowl that is an Animal Planet Production. The Puppy Bowl is a bunch of puppies hanging out in an area made to look like a football field. Cute, but hokie, like most of Animal Planet television shows, in my opinion. Anyhow back to Stephen Colbert.
Stephen Colbert spent time with the puppies on the "field" which was fine. He was rolling around having fun but then they were in an area that looked like a locker room. There is where the problem was. I was uncomfortable just watching the interaction. He was banging around, yelling and basically acting like an idiot. The puppies were reacting to this scary interaction. They signaled their fear, but of course he (Stephen Colbert) was oblivious to their communications. It was just a room of puppies to him; he had no idea that they were sending him so much information. One puppy in particular was quite worried about the whole thing and as I sat watching I said to my son "if one of those puppies were mine." Well, you get the idea.
Just found the episode - It is long so go to 5:36 part to see the Puppy Bowl part. Tell me what you think.
Puppies and dogs can and will go through life surprises, startles and even big scares; but it is how we deal with the information given from it that is important. If a puppy gets scared enough, it can leave a lasting impression. What will scare one may not scare another. I can guarantee that the puppies were already over stimulated which can be a very bad scenario. Puppies need environmental stimulation, but not too much. The idea of a little being good then a lot is better does not apply to stimulation and socialization. Too much can be a very bad thing.
Dogs signal to us constantly; but often it is not until they have to resort to a huge "in your face" signal that we notice. They may have been telling their human for a half hour before they had to scream. People just don't get it and watching the Colbert Report only proved that point. Puppies will react to the stimulus around them; we need to see and deal with those reactions. Not by coddling but by manipulating the environment as we can and guiding by example. When the only leader around is the one producing the problem, that is a big problem. The puppy has no where to turn, no where to go for reassurance.
The point I'm trying to make is that no one saw a problem with what Stephen Colbert was doing. That is the problem. No one said "the puppies are scared, let's tone it down." We choose to live with another species yet we don't take the time to know them. How do they communicate? How can we best communicate with them and how can we coexist in a harmonious way? Puppies are brand new dogs, who are just starting out on their journey with humans. It is up to us to get it right.
The big picture may have looked good to the writers and directors; but was anyone listening to what the puppies were saying? No. A big thumbs down for both the Colbert Report and Animal Planet from me.