Tag Archives: documentary

Well Groomed

I watched this 2019 documentary about the world of competitive, creative dog grooming on the Doc Play platform.

I’ve always owned dogs that I could groom myself without too much trouble. (Izzy, for example, has the short coat of a greyhound and only needs brushed and regular nail trims and possibly a bath once a year). But I have clients whose dogs need professional grooming and, hey, this was a movie involving dogs so I had to watch.

The documentary follows the stories of several women who use poodles as their creative canvas in grooming competitions across America.

It’s a different world, to say the least.

Ethically, I’m against the use of brightly coloured dyes being used on dogs. They may be marketed as harmless, but if a dog was meant to have a coat in the colours of the rainbow, genetics would have sorted that out by now. I also can’t endorse the use of nail polish on dogs, either. Both product ranges must have a chemical base and exposing dogs knowingly to these types of chemicals just seems wrong.

The poodles, I have to say, are very well behaved on the grooming table. I suppose they’ve become accustomed to the hours they spend standing on the grooming table for these competitions. To me, though, that seems sad when they could be out playing or just enjoying life as a pet.

Professional dog grooming is just that – a profession. And I am in awe of the great work done for my client’s dogs who are – well – real, loved family members – in need of a solid groom.

I simply can’t get my head around this art form because the dogs don’t really have a choice to opt out.

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

The Biggest Little Farm

It all started with a dog named Todd…

I’m sharing this film, originally released in 2018, because of the uplifting true story which all started because a dog named Todd wasn’t suitable for city living. Todd’s needs meant that Molly and John Chester sought out a way of making their sustainable farming dream a reality.

This documentary spans 8 years of their journey to bring a ‘dead’ Northern California farm back to life using holistic and sustainable techniques.

If you’re a customer of the The Balanced Dog, this month you received a special code in your October newsletter which allows you to join DocPlay free for an extended trial period of 45 days – that’s plenty of time to watch this film and lots of other great documentaries.

It’s spring here in New Zealand. I hope this film inspires you to garden with the environment in mind. I’ve already bought bags and bags of compost for my garden, realising from the film that my soil needs more organic content. And thanks to a client who works in the flower growing industry, I have a great guide to companion planting to help me plan the vege garden.

Thanks to Covid-19, more people than ever are taking to gardening and there are ways to garden which are more sustainable and healthier for us, our animals and the planet. Watch the film for inspiration and then get planting!

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

The Dogs of Democracy

“Humans would do well to study the character of dogs” – Diogenes

This quotation is the opening slide of the documentary Dogs of Democracy, by Mary Zournazi, which was released in 2016. I’ve just watched the film on Doc Play, the app where it is available in New Zealand.

The film portrays the many stray dogs who live in Athens and the people who take care of them. It’s set at a time when citizens of Greece had been protesting against years of austerity measures that depressed the economy and its people.

One dog, Loukanikos, participated in many of the anti-austerity marches and his story is told posthumously by the people who knew him best. I particularly liked when Loukanikos is described a symbol of revolt and purity.

If you like dogs, you’ll like this 57-minute film. And if you follow news about economies and world economics as well as being a dog lover, you’ll have an even better appreciation for the timing and subject matter of the film.

For me, well – I’d like to go to Athens when this pandemic is over and give every one of those strays a good massage while visiting the birthplace of democracy.

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

The Dog Doc

I’ve been wanting to watch the documentary The Dog Doc since March 2020 – when New Zealand was heading like so many countries into a Covid-19 lockdown. The film had just been launched and sadly, also due to Covid-19, its many planned showings had been cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions and the temporary closure of movie theaters. The film’s producer had then opted to make the film available on-demand.

Unfortunately, due to licensing restrictions for New Zealand, Amazon Prime would not allow me to hire this film. And then other priorities took over for a time….I finally contacted the film’s producer, Cindy Meehl, through the film’s website to ask how I could view the film from New Zealand so I could write about it in my column for NZ Dog World magazine.

I was pleasantly surprised when Ms Meehl responded to me the same day and put me in touch with MadMan Entertainment, whose Communications Director also responded to me the same day (I was on a roll) to say that the film was available on Doc Play. All I had to do was to sign up for my 30-day trial. (Score!)

Dr Marty Goldstein’s story is inspirational to anyone who has had a beloved pet facing a health challenge – terminal or otherwise. Sometimes, traditional veterinary care just isn’t enough to give the dog quality of life while preserving as much time together as possible for the human family.

Because Dr Marty has made it his life’s work to use integrative therapies – traditional veterinary medicine alongside homeopathy, massage, physical therapy, cryotherapy, herbal remedies, and other options. For someone like me working in complementary therapy, he is one of my idols. We need more Dr Martys.

The film follows real clients who presented to Dr Marty’s Smith Ridge Veterinary Clinic in New York State – in real-time. As a Fear-Free certified practitioner, I was dismayed to see two dogs in the film wearing prong collars and also a scene where veterinary technicians are physically restraining a dog with strong force.

Before we cast judgement, though, we must remember that documentary film making is designed to capture the moment without stage management. I was lucky enough to have Madman Entertainment organise an interview with Dr Marty via Zoom, where I asked him about the prong collars. He replied that the owners would have been spoken to during their initial consultations about the use of these aversives, which he doesn’t support:

“When you impart stress on a dog, such as through the pain of a shock or prong collar, you add to their immune system load and add to the disease rather than the ability of the body to fight the disease.  A strong and relaxed mind helps to re-build a strong body.”

There is a wonderful scene in the film where Dr Marty explains the use of titre testing to a client. Dr Marty is not an anti-vaxxer but he is clearly anti-over-vaccination and a titre test can show whether a dog has sufficient immunity without requiring a re-vaccination simply because of a date on the calendar.

Dr Marty explained in his interview with me that there is proven science behind titre testing, but that for a range of reasons – commercial veterinary practice is not following the science but rather the profit motive. (See my 2013 review of the book Pukka’s Promise – a great read for those wanting to understand canine health and longevity).

An added benefit for me was that Dr Marty counts a greyhound as part of his pack (Izzy liked this, too).

I thoroughly recommend a viewing of The Dog Doc. Dr Marty’s wish is that the film is an enduring resource for pet parents to help them ask informed questions about their pet’s care and to seek the support of integrative specialists when there may be no options in their local community.

For my New Zealand clients, stay tuned for my October newsletter which will include a special offer to clients of The Balanced Dog to access Doc Play for an extended free-trial period.

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Saved in America

There’s a new documentary on the horizon:  Saved in America

It’s an expose of sorts into the world of animal welfare in America with guest appearances by celebrities like Pink, Kim Kardashian and Katherine Heigl.

Not totally surprising is the fact that the larger animal welfare charities (Humane Society of United States, Best Friends Animal Society, as examples) have higher overheads and PR strategies – which soak up donor dollars.    On the other hand, I wonder what the animal welfare movement would be like if it weren’t for the larger organizations and their leadership…

Food for thought.

Here’s the trailer.  Wish I could see the whole film here in New Zealand.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

One Nation Under Dog

I’ve just finished watching the HBO documentary One Nation Under Dog.  I hope many of you were able to see it and, if not, to catch it when it repeats.

This documentary is segregated into three themes:  Fear, Loss and Betrayal.  Fear covers the experience of some people caught up in legal fights over dangerous dogs and the fate of vicious dogs (euthanasia); Loss shows owners who tell their stories of grief over the loss of their beloved dogs; Betrayal shows the ugly side of the homeless dogs problems in the United States.  Be prepared for actual footage of a gas chamber and meet people who are involved in dog rescue including liberating dogs from a Tennessee puppy mill.

Highly recommended, here are a couple of clips from the documentary thanks to YouTube: