The idea for Dog TV — a streaming channel for dogs to watch while their owners are out at work or school during the day — came from an unexpected place: a cat. Ron Levi, a radio and TV host in Israel, hated how sad his cat Charlie looked when Ron left the house to go to work every morning. Levi started wondering what would happen if pets had something to keep them entertained while their owners were away, and soon it came to him — an animal-friendly TV station that owners could leave on all day long. After a few years of research on the subject of pets and separation anxiety, plus some test runs on dogs in cramped New York and L.A. apartments, Dog TV became a reality. TODAY producer Feliciano Garcia’s dog Raisin was a big fan of this morning’s ‘Dog TV’ segment. Feliciano Garcia / TODAY TODAY producer Feliciano Garcia’s dog Raisin was a big fan of this morning’s ‘Dog TV’ segment. “Regular TV is bad for dogs,” Levi explained to TODAY.com. “It’s like the Fourth of July all year round.” The programming on Dog TV is designed specifically for dogs and their needs — no loud noises, no other dogs barking, no angry or shouty human voices, and, most importantly, no commercials. Levi’s research showed that dogs who watched the “mellow” animal-centric TV were calmer and happier when their owners came home. “If the dog’s not fortunate enough to go out, this is an alternative. Most people can’t take their dogs to work with them. Dogs need stimulation.” Levi admits that the research was the easy part — convincing the dogs’ human owners to try out the channel was more difficult. People worried that their pooches would get overly excited and knock over the TV, or that they’d turn into doggie couch potatoes. Levi partnered with Tufts University in Boston to install cameras in homes where dogs were left alone for eight hours a day watching Dog TV, and there hasn’t been a single TV-related fatality yet. The channel is now available in some Time Warner and Cox TV plans, and Dog TV is now selling subscriptions to their website, where the channel will be streamed for non-television owners. Starting August 1, the channel will also be available for DirecTV subscribers. While Levi is pleased with how many pet owners are starting to catch on to the idea of Dog TV, he admits that his work is far from done. “I can’t wait to do a cat channel, to be honest,” he says. “And I want to get a dog.”
A suburban Chicago gym believes that the path to getting in shape is to have a workout partner with four legs instead of two.
K9 Fit Club aims to create healthy lives for dog owners and dogs alike by inviting members to bring along their hounds as they work to drop pounds. The club’s employees are specially trained to get not only humans into shape, but their canine companions as well.
“There’s no better workout partner than your dog, because they’ll never cancel on you,’’ K9 Fit Club founder Tricia Montgomery said on TODAY Wednesday. “They’ll never say, ‘Can’t make it to the gym today, sorry.’’’
Twenty years ago, Montgomery was diagnosed with morbid obesity, and so was her basset hound, Louie. Facing health complications because of her weight, she aimed to avoid the same fate for her dog. She began exercising regularly with Louie, and shed 135 pounds. That experience gave her the idea for K9 Fit Club, as it is not only humans but also dogs that are part of the obesity problem in America.
“Dogs have gone from the backyard to the couch,’’ Dr. Ernie Ward of the Association for Pet Obesity told TODAY.
K9 Fit Club workouts are tailored to be performed in conjunction with dogs, whether it’s doing planks over a puppy or squats while holding a leash. (There also is a mop at the ready in case of any doggie accidents.) Kids are also welcome to come work out, even if their “dogs’’ are stuffed animals.
Working out with man’s best friend has made a difference in the lives of members like Cindy Rodkin, who has dropped 57 pounds while breaking a sweat with her dog, Khaki.“My dog is healthier and actually much better behaved than when she started,’’ Rodkin told TODAY.
The doggie workouts also have had a positive effect both in and outside the gym for Erin Harvey, a member who has Down syndrome and has gained a newfound independence thanks to her bond with 17-month-old Goldie.
“We have our moments,’’ Harvey joked to TODAY.
Sometimes just the dog’s presence is enough to help their workout partner break a sweat. TODAY’s Kevin Tibbles was paired up with a pug named Mr. Big for a workout at K9 Fit Club, and as Tibbles did squats and pushups, Mr. Big took in the scenery while hardly moving.
“Mr. Big is not stressing at all,’’ Tibbles said. “I’m pretty sure I burned more calories than he did.’’