The problem with dog videos, principally, is that there aren’t enough of them. Ones of their big, floppy ears going SMACK-SWAT-SMACK in their big, floppy faces? Ones of them wag-slumping for their just-returned-home humans? Ones of their pool parties, their food thefts, their child knockings-over? I say this as a cat person: We need more.
And where the public demandeth, so shall the market provideth: In this hallowed year of our lord and his tongue-wagging copilot, the American Kennel Club has launched a round-the-clock television channel of dog content—available, if not quite on basic cable, at least on Roku or Apple TV or any web-connected device. Per the attendant press release: “All dog videos. All day.” And how!
Now, 24/7 dog content—I’m not sure dogtent works; let’s keep workshopping—might seem like a strange foray for America’s (quietly now) second-best-known canine kennel club. The AKC has long been best known for its thorough adjudication of its 192 officially sanctioned breeds (the skull of a beagle “should be fairly long, slightly domed at occiput, with cranium broad and full;” the elbows of a golden retriever must be “close to the ribs without looseness;” the “ample coat” of a keeshond’s hind legs ought to be “profusely feathered down to the hocks—not below”) and annual competitions (by breed, by agility, by sheepdog trials, by something called earthdog trials).
But while there are people who care about occiput domes and hock feathering, there are people who would like to see as many dogs in as many circumstance as possible. This is an animal, after all, that has given rise to its own internet vernacular, with pup-picture emporiums like WeRateDogs propelling both the terms “doggo” and “pupper” and the concept that not only are there no bad dogs—there are also no merely good dogs, either. If you spend much time online, you might find yourself overcome by the idea that each and every dog is both truly exemplary—a 12/10, at a minimum—and worthy of being told this.
So it makes some sense that the AKC might hope for a place in the doggo zeitgeist. “This is a new, modern platform that we hope will widen our audience,” says Gina DiNardo, executive secretary of the AKC, of AKC.TV, “and promote the value of dogs.”
The value of dogs will be disseminated in just about every format known to man, from live shows to documentaries to clip compilations to call-in sessions with AKC-sanctioned experts. There will in the very near future be what DiNardo terms “a network of puppy cams,” showcasing the whelping and wobbles and weaning of litters of as-yet-to-be-adopted purebreds. And, of course, there will be the pup vs. pup competition that the AKC has always done.
“The AKC live show is our mini Sportscenter for the world of dogs,” says Russell Quy, CEO of B Live, the video production company the AKC has partnered with in its quest for total immersion dog content. “People don’t realize how many active events there are within the American Kennel Club. There are all these amazing sports that the dog world has.”
On a recent weekday, AKC.TV aired a segment about the first dog to be named a sergeant in the U.S. military—“We’re able to tell a dog’s eye view of American history,” a man told the camera, delighted—and another on the “Beagle Brigade,” the fleet of airport customs-bound snouts who keep our fair nation safe from illicit apples and prosciutto. Other programs—The 10 Best Family Dogs, Canine Heroes, The Cutest Puppies—loomed; an “Events” category was led with the image of a winking, mid-hurdle corgi advertising last month’s AKC National Agility Championship. (The corgi, sadly, was out-agilitied by a pack of border collies).
Together, the AKC and B Live will operate two dedicated studios in New York, where a combined production crew of nearly two dozen will scour the internet for the latest Instagram dog celebrities and interview relevant dogs and/or dog people. “It’s not as big as Good Morning America,” says Quy, but you never know where things might go. There are, as of now, no canines officially on staff, but Quy—his dog enthusiastically barking in the background—says that the introduction of a rotating featured dog is under serious consideration.
But this round-the-clock dog-watching, this opium drip of puppers snuffling along at the feet of so many faraway internet humans—is it a fad? We have really been able to access unlimited dogdom for only the last decade, give or take. Mightn’t we someday tire of it—maybe not of dogs the creatures, but of dogs the video avatars: the dogs of strangers and the ritual performance of the approximately 12 things (sniff, gallop, snooze, follow, inspect, gobble, shake, greet, bark, collide, lap, wag) dogs do? Or is it that mankind has always wanted a way to commune in perpetuity with pups, and trudged the earth for century after century with a 24/7-dog-content-delivery-system–shaped hole in our lives? Which is to say: Have we all simply been waiting for our chance to watch dogs around the clock, and are only now being given the requisite channel with which do so?
“That’s a good question,” says Quy.
“I think people who love dogs are endlessly entertained by watching dogs be dogs,” says DiNardo, surely implying the pool parties and floppy ear SMACK-SWAT-ing. “It’s almost endless.”
Almost—because every dog lover, no matter how dog-loving, must occasionally suspend their content consumption and sleep. And at that point: They really ought to play some dog content for their dogs.
The AKC’s official position is that (a) dogs watch television and (b) dogs enjoy watching television, so it stands to reason that (c) dogs would almost certainly like to watch more television. To sate this particular audience, AKC.TV has a series of just-for-dogs programs in the works. Will there be high-def squirrels? There might be.
“You can keep it on 24/7,” says DiNardo. “When you’re not watching it, you can flip over to something for your dog.”