Since becoming a stay-at-home dad my viewing habits have changed. I have a lot more time available to me to watch TV, be it when I’m ironing, exercising or eating my breakfast (when the kids finally let me). Due to this I’ve become a lot more lax in my standards, unlike in the evening where time is precious and anything that doesn’t hook us in gets chopped after one episode.
Hence how I have now become mildly addicted to any programme with ‘benefits’ or any derivation thereof, in the title. Benefits Britain, Broken Britain, Benefits By The Sea etc. Anything like that and I lap it up. Which is why I find myself watching ‘Dogs On The Dole’ one wet Monday morning while the kids take turns in seeing who can damage the Ikea, Smorg cabinet the quickest in the other room.
It starts out promisingly enough; it’s made with the cooperation of The Dog’s Trust and so is a bit more worthy than other, similar titles. The representative of the trust, Denise, is holding a workshop to give advice to people on housing estates on how best to look after their dogs. She recommends the basics grooming, diet as well as other, less savoury ways to ‘look after’ your dog.
As well as Denise there’s another lady featured, Jackie, with a dog that has a problem. Her dog is overweight. He’s also called Barry. Now that to me is two problems. Our grocery delivery driver is called Barry. But that’s OK. He looks like a Barry. There’s probably a template somewhere with the name BARRY above it, and his image underneath. You can’t call a dog Barry though. It’s just not right.
Another guy, Mike, wants to know if his dog can ‘do the business’ or procreate to give it its full title. He knows a man, who knows a man who can test dog’s sperm. He tests dogs a lot, apparently. We see him testing George, a Chihuahua, into a Sports Direct mug. The camera crew ask him if he’s done this before ‘been doing it all my life’ he says.
It’s not long before we’re back with Jackie and her beloved Barry. The news is in, and it’s not good for Baz. To lose weight he will have to have his testicles removed. Something Jackie takes great delight in telling him. ‘You’re off to get castrated aren’t you’ she says, playfully tickling Barry’s balls.
And boy does he. In scenes that nearly make a grown man weep, Barry bids farewell to his ‘two veg’. ‘They’re like two little earrings’, chortles the vet, holding up his comatose-canine-customer’s pride and glory.
At this point I turn the programme off, and push away what remains of my Shredded Wheat. I’ve got to start being more choosy about my breakfast viewing.