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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Dogs is a binge-worthy six-episode documentary series centered on the way humans and dogs impact each other's lives. Each one-hour episode has a different tone, and some -- such as the episode set in Syria, which shows a dog while sounds of real bombs and gunshots are heard in the distance, which could be scary for kids -- may require parental input and discussion. Some episodes focus on rescue groups that work with medically challenged dogs and don't always have the resources to help everyone; this, too, might make kiddos a bit sad, but nothing graphic or extreme is shown. As Netflix was careful to explain on their social media outlets, families can rest assured that no dogs die in this series -- it's a viewing experience that's both deep and life-affirming.
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What's the story?
DOGS is a six-episode documentary series that covers the many and various ways our canine companions bring joy and value to our lives. A handful of truly impressive directors (past credits include American Experience, Capturing the Friedmans, and Life, Animated) travel the globe, capturing the stories of animals like sweet, smart Rory, a golden-doodle trained to recognize seizures so he can assist a young girl living with severe epilepsy. Another installment follows Zeus, a beautiful Siberian husky who has been left behind with friends in Damascus after his owner Ayham fled to Berlin as an asylum seeker -- but who may soon be reunited with him thanks to a rescue group called Animals Syria. Other episodes focus on dog grooming enthusiasts from Japan, an ice fisherman in Lake Como and his canine companion, a struggling dog sanctuary in Costa Rica, and a New York City-based rescue group called Hearts and Bones.
Is it any good?
This beautifully shot series is more than a squeal-worthy collection of cute dog footage -- it's a clever, surprisingly deep examination of the human condition that makes for wonderful family viewing. Dogs shows us how lovable these animals are, to be sure, but also uses the universality of that canine-human bond to show viewers how alike human beings are, which engenders empathy and encourages understanding.
We all know that service dogs exist, but seeing the rigorous training these animals and families go through before adopting one, and how deeply impacted and improved their lives are as a result, truly gives viewers a whole new respect for the challenges facing people with disabilities. Likewise, the episode that follows Syrian refugee Ayham's friends as they put their own lives at risk to smuggle his beloved dog Zeus out of the country and into safety is deeply affecting and gives a unique perspective on the conflicts there. The show is a great conversation starter for families, and an inspiring meditation on unconditional love.
Talk to your kids about ...
What do you think the makers of this series wanted to express about the relationships between dogs and people? What did you take away? Did any preconceived ideas you had about dogs change after watching it?
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