Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Culture
  2. TV & Radio
28 November 2018updated 03 Aug 2021 5:37am

Netflix’s documentary series Dogs is a surprisingly human portrait of people and their pets

The show reveals, to moving effect, how humans rely on dogs for more than just companionship.

By Anna Leszkiewicz

It didn’t take more than the title to get me interested in Netflix’s new documentary series, Dogs. But if you’re expecting a full-length viral video of kids writhing around in a playpen full of adorable puppies, think again. Documentarians Glen Zipper and Amy Berg show shrewd restraint across the six episodes.

We barely see Rory, the goldendoodle service dog for Corrine, an epileptic young girl from Ohio, for the first 20 minutes of the first instalment, “The Kid with a Dog”. Instead of focusing on the many adorable puppies learning how to be service dogs at charity 4 Paws for Ability, we get to know Corrine and her family as they wait for their dog, learning the specific challenges her epilepsy presents, and just how desperately she wants Rory in her life. In “Bravo, Zeus” we meet Berlin-based Syrian refugee Ayham, as he tries to get his Siberian husky, Zeus, transported from Damascus to be with him in Germany. In “Ice on the Water”, we see ten-year-old Labrador Ice – more stoic than cute and fluffy – as he helps his owner, fisherman Alessandro, prepare for tourist season in his Italian village on the shores of Lake Como.

There are episodes that show you a whole range of sweet, playful pups: “Scissors Down”, set in a Japanese grooming parlour, and “Second Chances”, which follows dog rescuer Anna as she ferries abandoned dogs from Texas to their new homes in New York. But each one avoids silliness and schmaltz by telling the stories of dog owners, giving us a sense of their vulnerabilities and their dreams, before showing us how their dogs have taken up such a crucial position in their lives. The show is more touching as a result. Ultimately, and to its credit, Dogs is a study in humanity first, and dogs second. 

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. Your new guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture each weekend - from the New Statesman. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

Content from our partners
How to navigate the modern cyber-threat landscape
Supporting customers through the cost of living crisis
Data on cloud will change the way you interact with the government

This article appears in the 28 Nov 2018 issue of the New Statesman, How the Brexit fantasy died