Following the amazing team at the Animal Welfare League, The Dog House Australia dives into the delicate process of matchmaking families with the perfect pup.
Narrated by Dr Chris Brown, the series follows as families share their stories as to what led them to search for the newest addition to their homes.
According to Dr Chris, the show has “kind of a cult following”, and people would come up to him on the street to ask if he watched it.
“To be able to be part of something that is just such a beautiful show, its intentions are so pure,” he told 10 play.
“You don’t get shows like this very often that are just lovely. There’s no nastiness or sneakiness, there are just dogs that bloody well need homes and people who — through all sorts of different scenarios — find themselves in need of that extra bit of love in their life and this animal shelter is all about bringing them together, sometimes in the most unexpected ways.”
With each matchmaking opportunity between a human and a pup, we not only hear about what led the person to the shelter but also so much more about the dogs and their personalities.
“It’s not a dog show; it’s kind of a love story,” Chris said, “and it’s beautiful in that respect.”
It’s a series guaranteed to tug at your heartstrings as each match hangs perilously in the balance of how their interactions go. And it’s not just a decision made by the people, the dog’s needs are “almost a bigger priority”, Chris explained.
“What I really enjoy is the fact that this is a situation where it’s actually the dog’s choice, it’s not really the people.
“The people come in and they just have to trust in the process and trust that the dogs are going to make their choice.”
While many of the matches made result in the paw-fect pairing, occasionally things don’t go as planned.
“I think you learn something from that, and both dog and people step away from those times where it doesn’t quite work and you go okay, that’s a bit of a lesson. How does that shape where we go from here? You try and take a positive out of that connection that doesn’t quite hit the mark,” Chris said.
Sometimes a dog might have had an experience with people in their past where they didn’t get along with them and a certain appearance or energy could bring back those feelings.
“These dogs have earned the right, through their past, to have a few things go their way and the first of those things is being able to have a say in where they spend the rest of their lives. It’s an interesting part of the process and that matchmaking is a weird science sometimes.”
The team at the Animal Welfare League watch closely at the interactions between the dogs and people upon their first interactions, making sure that not only are they getting along but also that the dogs feel safe and supported.
“There’s a certain innocence with rescue dogs, and the fact that they can’t tell their story with words, they’ve only got their little faces and eyes to reveal where they’re at in life.
“You see this innocence, this vulnerability, and all of it can be solved by just finding the right person for them to rebuild their lives with, and when you see that match work it’s a beautiful thing.”
In his recent Pet Census, Chris found that about 35 percent of people had adopted a pet in the last 18 months. With over 20,000 responses to his census, Chris said he verified the result with other surveys with similar trends and has heard from people at the vet clinic that they’re finding it difficult to find shelter dogs that are available for re-homing.
A silver lining to the last two years of on-and-off lockdowns, and everyone being home a lot more to tend pets, there is a cautious anticipation of what could happen when the world returns to their pre-lockdown schedules.
“I guess we’re not at that stage with everyone going back to work or leaving these dogs by themselves,” Chris said. “So far we haven’t seen that rebound or mass surrender of dogs. Everyone’s looking for it, mindful of it and concerned about it but it hasn’t eventuated.
“To me, that says one of two things. Either we’re not quite at that low point yet or, and this is what I hope it is, people have just gone, ‘Wow have I gone this long without a pet in my life?’ They’re just loving it and realising how much dogs add to our lives.”
Despite the spike in adoptions, there is still a stigma around dogs that have found their way to shelters, regardless of if they have been abandoned, surrendered or neglected by their former owners with a lot of people believing that there has to be something wrong with a dog for it to be in a shelter.
“Dogs in shelters aren’t bad, they’ve just had bad luck,” Chris said.
“What they really need is less judgement. I think as people sometimes we’re a little quick to judge and assume.
“A majority of dogs are in shelters because their owners couldn’t afford to have them or their lives changed — someone in the family passed away, they had to move interstate or to an apartment — it’s just been bad luck, bad circumstances led them there. That’s the majority.
“Shelter dogs generally just have open hearts ready to go and are just looking for the right person.”
Follow along to see these special pups find that right person when The Dog House Australia premieres Tuesday, 12 October at 7.30 on 10 and 10 play on demand