First Impressions

Underdog to Wonderdog

Aired on: Animal Planet

Reviewed by Natasia Minners


            Have you ever heard that expression that says when the cat’s away the mice will play?  Well, we cats have an expression:  When the human’s gone, the party’s on!  So this Saturday, when the human stepped out, I turned on the television and searched for my favorite channel, Animal Planet.  I was having a ball watching my favorite programs when I heard the human at the front door.  I turned the television off and did my best to resemble a sleeping lump on the couch when she walked in.  Right away, she turned the television on and became absorbed in a show called Underdog to Wonderdog.  Of course, being in love with Animal Planet myself, I just had to watch.

            Underdog to Wonderdog is a new series on Animal Planet in which a special team of animal lovers work together to make seemingly unadoptable puppies adoptable again.  The team consists of Ryan Smith, host of the show and puppy advocate, trainer Andrea Arden, groomer Ali McLennan and carpenter David Leon.  Airing on Saturdays at 9PM, each episode finds the Doggie Wonder Team taking a new stray from a horrible situation, transforming it through rehabilitation, training and grooming and finding it a new home.

            This week’s case - Faith, a Rottweiler/Shepherd mix puppy with limited use of her back legs and some incontinence issues.  Apparently, Faith was part of a litter of puppies, all of whom were fairly healthy.  But Faith had some issues - she couldn’t stand on her back legs.  That, coupled with some incontinence issues led the Doggie Wonder Team to believe that Faith may have been suffering some paralysis of some sort.  But Faith was determined to be the same as other puppies, dragging herself around and bounding about on her front paws, causing some scrapes and sores on her back end. 

            After taking Faith to the vet, the team discovers that Faith actually has a spinal issue, but she is not actually paralyzed.  They begin her on a hydrotherapy regiment while consulting with a company that makes wheelchairs for dogs.  Hydrotherapy seems to work as Faith shows signs of limited hind leg usage, but the real trick is to train her in the doggy wheelchair.  Meanwhile, it’s Ryan Smith’s job to hook Faith up with a forever home. 

            Amazingly enough, as Faith improves on her walking, a loving family with some special needs cats is hoping to adopt a special needs dog.  The family is given a detailed description of Faith’s issues and, despite her problems, seems ready, willing and able to take her on.  Happily, the team sets to work grooming her, training her, building accessible ramps and creating a new doghouse specially made for a doggy with her disabilities.

            While my human cooed at this puppy’s “cuteness”, I have to marvel at her determination and intelligence.  This puppy new just how and when to turn on the cute factor including leaping two-legged bounds and facial expressions complete with that floppy-eared look.  She knew just when to play sweet and when to play excited puppy.  Such skill!  And determination - I don’t know what I would do without the use of my back paws.  Think about the cat litter issues!  And wearing a diaper?  I think not!  But this dog was determined to be just like every other puppy, her team of friends were determined to give her a chance at happiness and her new family was determined to love her as if she had no issues whatsoever.  A beautiful story with a very happy ending. 

            The dedication of this Doggy Wonder Team and their love for the animals they take care of was extremely evident in this episode.  I can’t wait to see what miracles the team will perform the rest of the season.  I’ll just have to make sure to accidentally step on the remote every Saturday at 9PM to ensure that we get to see more of Underdog to Wonderdog.

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