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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Life in the Doghouse is a 2018 documentary about two men who dedicate their lives to rescuing dogs, having saved the lives of more than 11,000 animals from euthanasia. Their private home is given over to 70 resident dogs, some of whom live with them permanently. Horse trainers by profession, the two are lifelong animal lovers and advocates who don't blame shelters that are forced to euthanize animals, but instead believe communities are responsible for the crisis in animal overpopulation. They emphasize that a policy/law mandating spaying and neutering all animals (except for those owned by licensed breeders) would dramatically decrease the number of dogs that end up in shelters. Some cruelty to animals is described, and animals with diseases and disabilities are shown. One animal with a terminal condition is taken to a vet for a humane death.
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What's the story?
LIFE IN THE DOGHOUSE is a 2018 documentary about two men whose love for dogs turned into a nonprofit, full-time dog rescue operation. After Hurricane Katrina, Danny Robertshaw and Ron Danta, dog lovers and owners of a South Carolina horse-training operation, helped save dogs abandoned during the storm. After rescuing 600 dogs, they realized that 6.5 million dogs per year were ending up in shelters and only 2.5 million of them were placed in adoptive homes, sending 4 million to euthanasia. Now they live in a large house, and all the space has been turned into housing for the 70 dogs in residence at the time of filming. While they hope to find forever homes for each dog, they've learned that black dogs are the least likely to be adopted and thus most prone to being euthanized. Sick dogs and disabled dogs also fail to find permanent owners. Danny and Ron take them all, often keeping the least adoptable themselves, like Amelia, an irritable small dog with hind leg problems.
Is it any good?
There's a sweetness beyond mere compassion and decency to both Danny and Ron that makes viewers fall in love with the two professional rescuers in this documentary. Danny assures one cute new puppy that they'll find someone to adopt him and that he'll do just fine: "You'll get some human, and you'll train 'em," Danny jokes. The fact that they take dogs no one else wants -- because of illness, personality traits, temper -- and turn them into lovable, adoptable dogs gives an audience the sense that we're all lucky that the earth is graced with such big-hearted people. Life in the Doghouse is a love song to these seemingly unselfish guys, and it would be hard to fault director Ron Davis for portraying them in such an uncritical light.
Kids may appreciate that the dogs themselves get plenty of screen time, too, so we get to know Lily, a charmer with the dreaded heartworm. Ron and Danny not only save her from euthanasia at a shelter, but then also invest the time, money, and effort required to remake an otherwise lovely dog with a life-threatening illness into a healthy and attractive prospect who, it turns out, finds a happy home by film's end. And there are plenty of others -- Yoda, Amelia, Sammy, Cotton, Blanche, Maggie, Moose -- to whom the guys make the promise that they'll never go back to a shelter. Danny and Ron make clear throughout that donations will be welcome, and a donation website is shown at film's end.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why spaying and neutering animals can help keep animals from being needlessly killed.
In Life in the Doghouse, Danny and Ron talk about the need to borrow money to keep their rescue efforts funded. Does their generosity set an example for others to follow? How can you help homeless pets in your area?
What cause would you support with your time and money?
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