What to say if you liked it
Charismatic dog expert Victoria Stillwell adroitly tames recalcitrant hounds, tempering their worst canine habits into endearing quirks.
What to say if you didn’t like it
Another bulbous ego waddles on to the screen in the austere form of Victoria Stillwell, who offers little more than common-sense instructions as though they are lost entries in the 10 Commandments of Dogdom.
What was good about it?
• Victoria Stillwell certainly is adept in handling and controlling dogs. She was introduced as being able to “control any dog within one minute”. And she illustrated this by coercing the two bad boys of the debut show – Duke and Jimmy – under her thrall in a very short space of time.
• The tips were clear and audible, enabling viewers at home to try out the technique on their own naughty pooches. Jimmy was soon cured of urinating each time Dave came home on his motorbike through Dave largely ignoring him, except for a pat of greeting, rather than lavishing him with affection. While Duke was taught that if he refrained from nibbling delicacies from the dinner table as the family ate, he would be rewarded with a few scraps after the meal was finished and thus more hygienic. Sadly, both dogs’ throbbing libidos couldn’t be remedied by Victoria’s lessons alone.
• Any child who grew up watching TV has an inevitable adoration of Golden Labradors, like Duke and Jimmy, through Goldie and her offspring on Blue Peter.
• Jimmy’s thunderous snoring when he slept in owners’ Dave and Angie’s bed.
• Victoria letting both dogs “smell her crotch” as this, we learned, is how dogs gain a great proportion of their information about people.
What was bad about it?
• Victoria driving in her open top sports car, ostentatiously letting the wind blow through her hair as if advertising motor insurance for the over 40s.
• Victoria was lauded because she has spent “10 years on both sides of the Atlantic” training and correcting dog behaviour. Now forgive us for our canine ignorance if we are wrong, but we are unaware dogs have evolved to the state of having a culture – in which dogs on either side of the Atlantic have developed independently in the past 200 years as to have distinct and diverse ways of life. Boasting about having worked on “both sides of the Atlantic” seemed more a pitiable ploy to exploit Britons’ myopic delusions that finding success in America is somehow superior to achieving the same fame in our country.
• And besides “both sides of the Atlantic” was also wilfully vague – as if trying to desperately instil viewer visions of Victoria attending the spoilt Chihuahua of a malformed plastic-surgery film star now reduced to guest-starring on daytime soaps, when she could equally have been tending to incontinent huskies in an Alaskan igloo.
• Because both Jimmy and Duke couldn’t control their natural masculine urges (they even “humped” each other as they were so frustrated, although this was also apparently a domination/submission sign too) they both had to be neutered. And while this is a normal procedure undertaken on many domesticated animals, every male of every species felt a twinge of both sympathy and phantom bereavement in their loins.
• Trying to soothe Angela’s unease over getting Duke and Jimmy neutered, Victoria presented the rather feeble compensation that it “eliminates the risk of testicular cancer”. And while this is undoubtedly true, we doubt very much you’ll see queues of mothers and their pre-pubescent sons near doctor’s surgeries as the mother has their little boy castrated to prevent the possibility of testicular cancer in later life.