Three weeks of dog training on prime-time CBS — done. We’re happy to be around to witness it.
For those keeping track, Dogs in the City scored 5.59 million viewers for the night, up from last week, and the second-best show for the time period. In contrast, America’s Top Model got .80 million viewers. If I were Tyra Banks, I’d be freaking out.
Here are the five best things about the episode.
Justin Silver got his start rescuing Pit Bulls, so we expected a Pit Bull episode soon enough. We got one, and it was crazy.
First, Justin met a woman and her Pit Bulls running around a butcher shop — wait, no, the dogs thought they were in a butcher shop but they were really in her tiny living room, and they were just destroying it, bounding from the couch to the table to the host to the owner to the couch to the wall to the table. This is a very high-energy dog, did you know?
For the record, God bless this woman: She rescues Pit Bulls. But she puts them all in this little house, leaving the dogs no choice but to try and dismantle the house, and it was wearing her down. She was at the breaking point. On-camera tears, the works. Her home life basically consisted of separating Pit Bulls.
Unbelievably, despite the insanity taking place in the living room, the show hadn’t even gotten to “the real reason” she had called the dog trainer, as Silver kept ominously saying. Apparently the real reason was in the bedroom down the hall. By the third time he said it, I was like Frank opening the puzzle box in Hellraiser: Show me the thing in the bedroom down the hall.
Was another Pit Bull, of course, but this one was in a hooded cage, savagely snarling and barking. The dog exploded as Silver entered the room, and it was nice to see the host genuinely freaked out. Silver admired the bite marks on the woman’s arms as she talked about the dog’s brutal dog-fighting past. “This is insane,” America said from the couch, patting the country’s Lhasa Apso dozing on the floor.
In truth, it was the first time in the series that you really understood it wasn’t all TV, that there was real work for Silver to do out there in NYC. And Silver appeared up to the task. He persuaded her to get rid of one dog, and he promised her weekly training sessions. He could have done a hell of a lot more, in our opinion, but this is CBS.
Seeing Russell Simmons suddenly appear on the show was not much of a surprise. It’s a reality show. Eventually Russell Simmons will find it and be on it. That’s what he does. And Russell Simmons’ assistant wasn’t a surprise, either, because she is on the Running Russell Simmons reality show on Oxygen already.
She’s also naked and covered in blood somewhere in this PETA campaign.
Anyhow, this woman is a saint, with crazy saint-hair. She rescues special-needs dogs and tattoos their names on her arm. Her latest is a dog called Hubbell Yoda, who had its eyes removed because of glaucoma, and so she walks it around the Big Apple in a baby carriage and never has it more than two feet away from her, ever.
Silver drilled into the solution like a dentist: He had her increase that two-foot radius, now and then. So he met her and the dog in a park, took the dog out of the baby carriage, put it on the ground, told the woman to stay put, and … trained! Also, the dog had never been around other dogs, so Silver showed it another dog.
I’m beginning to love these hardly-any-dog-training segments in this dog-training show. When you get Russell Simmons’ assistant and a dog with no eyes, you have enough.
She had a ring consisting of three-inch spikes, set at angles, shooting into your personal space. She had a ring on her thumb, with some giant jewel-thing pointing inward, toward her palm. I kept checking her hair for small woodland creatures. I think I saw a lamprey.
These days, you can’t hear the word Brooklyn without conjuring up visions of young people drinking craft beer at the pocketwatch-repair class before eating bone marrow from a pop-up restaurant screening antique dental videos in the bathroom.
To its credit, Dogs in the City found the old Brooklyn, the Brooklyn that’s been sitting there all along, on the stoop or the two-person plastic Walmart swing seat, staring at people walking by (though armed with a pair of unruly Bloodhounds, in this case). It was a choice bunch. They had a little barbecue after Silver spent like three seconds telling them how to make their dogs sit and stay, and, I have to admit, I felt like I nearly stumbled into a Scorsese or a Spike Lee joint. I felt like family.