Lileks: TV for your dog is like an iPhone for your canary – Minneapolis Star Tribune

We shouldn’t use the phrase “cut the cord” to describe getting rid of cable TV, because some people might take it literally. This one? The thick one that goes into the wall? BZZZZZZZZTTTTZZZZ.

OK, whoa, I am in the next room and my toes are smoking and I smell hot hair.

I guess that was the power cord.

The cord you want to cut is symbolic — a tether that ties your TV provider to your bank account. Some of us remember growing up with four channels, three networks for meat and dessert, and the public TV spinach channel that would show British shows where they said “bum” but only after 10 p.m. If you’re from that era, you still think TV should be free.

We dream of figuring out a way to get the networks for nothing. It’s possible, but it’s a pain. The other day my satellite provider announced some new tier, a stripped-down package delivered over the internet, and I called to inquire. Does it have the networks? My wife’s favorite shows are on the single-digit channels.

“No,” said the helpful customer assistant rep, “but let me tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to reduce your bill by half.”

Remarkable: I’d implied the mildest sort of cord-cutter interest, and the scythe whistled down and cleaved my bill. It’s like calling up the power company to say “I’m thinking of going back to whale-oil lamps” and they halve your rates.

Anyway. I was scrolling through the channels I never watch, looking for something I would record and never watch, and saw a grayed-out premium channel I’d never noticed before.


The channel for dogs.

The channel’s evening offerings:

10 p.m. Relaxation

11 p.m. Relaxation

12 a.m. Relaxation

Someone needs some NyQuil gravy on his kibble, it seems.

The program description read: “Content that is designed to relax your dog, reduce stress levels and keep him calm with soothing music, sounds and visuals.” Unless your dog is bothered by the lack of the Oxford comma.

Relaxation? Hah! Here is our dog’s evening:

6:45-7:16 p.m. Dinnertime. Food may drop on floor. Set maw to FULL DROOL.

7:17-8:14 p.m. Evaluating height of urine deposits on local poles.

8:16-9:27 p.m. Sitting in grass gnawing on something that used to be a cow, punctuated by escalation to DefCon 1 because the neighbor came out for a smoke.

10 p.m. Sitting outside on a soft chair, until raccoon is detected. Then, race back and forth barking alarm until human arrives with military-grade flashlight, spotlights a fat striped Dumpster-diver three stories up. Give human the “What did I tell you?” look.

This is where DOGTV should switch to “Unpopular Supreme Court Decisions” so the dog gets the idea that some things you just have to live with.

11 p.m. Dog goes inside to snooze until he detects a cat or rabbit outside, which reactivates the danger program in his genes.

If I took Dog to the family room and pointed his head at the Relaxation program his tail would beat so fast it would take the varnish off the wood, because “WHAT??? THERE’S A RABBIT!!!”

1 a.m. It’s Night Time programming on DOGTV. “Animals. Images, sounds and music to create a relaxed and peaceful night environment for your dog. Series.”

I suspect that the best peaceful night environment for my dog is one in which there is no significant stimulus whatsoever. I can’t imagine that he awakens at 3 a.m. because he picked up the scent of a dead fish washing ashore somewhere. But what if he heard soothing Peruvian pan flutes from the TV?

And did you note that Night Time on DOGTV is a series?

I’m sure there are dog owners who meet in the off-leash parks and discuss these things.

“Did you catch Season 4 of Night Time?”

“I did, I did. The reviews were brutal.”

“I know. The cliffhanger at the end of Season 3, where they killed off the gently croaking frog chorus? That was devastating. This new season, it’s just pictures of burlap fabric and one low note played on an organ for six hours. Coby seems to be sticking with it, but I think they’re just coasting now.”

Night Time runs until 6 a.m. and then it’s … Relaxation.

Yes, that’s every dog at daybreak: Yawn. Stretch. It’s bright and I smell bacon, but, nah, I’m good. Think I’ll just sit here and watch TV.

Sure. From 8 to 10 a.m. it’s Stimulation, which has “exciting animations and moving objects to encourage your dog’s playfulness when home alone.”

I’m imagining a dog on a sofa, giving the TV a half-lidded look, thinking, “This is the dumbest window I’ve ever seen. Cut the cord, boss. Or let me chew it off.”


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