Netlix’s Dogs is a canine-filled masterpiece
By Colin Macgillivray, Arts Editor
When Netflix’s newest docu-series, Dogs, launched on the streaming platform in mid-November, I was more than skeptical. Sure, there was no doubt in my mind that it would be a heartwarming exploration into our furry friends, with adorable dogs and sappy music galore. I understood that it would probably grow a cult-like following due to our shared societal obsession with dogs. What I didn’t expect, however, was just how exceptional the six-episode series would be.
I expected a formulaic, cookie-cutter approach, where the genre of uplifting animal stories would dominate whatever loose narrative the producers chose to explore. Even with Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker Amy Berg — who helmed Deliver us From Evil, the masterful exploration into sex abuse cases in the Roman Catholic Church and a personal favourite documentary in West of Memphis — directing two of the episodes, I truly had no expectations for Dogs to be anything but an excuse to show cute animals on-screen for six hours.
But, Dogs is a masterclass in emotional depth. It transcends the genre of animal escapades and rather, stands as a complex tapestry of families and individuals as humans evolve in an increasingly complex world of cultural transmutations.
Obviously, it is incredibly moving, as there is nothing more human than the raw, unbiased connection we have with our pets. It might be redundant, but the obvious stars of Dogs are the featured canines. They’re intrinsically loyal, fiercely adorable and captivating characters all in their own right, but each dog’s narrative is used merely as a key to unlock a deeper story.
In ‘Bravo, Zeus’ — arguably the most moving episode in a cavalcade of impassioned parables — Berg brilliantly uses the relatively simple story of the deep bond between man and dog as a backdrop to paint a poignant picture of the Syrian refugee crisis.
The man in question, Ayham, is a Syrian refugee living in Berlin, while his Siberian Husky, Zeus, is still in Syria. Ayham’s need to be reunited with Zeus drives the eloquently told profile, as we we learn to understand the complexity of his situation. From his dangerous journey to Germany to the heart wrenching act of FaceTiming a friend so that he can see and talk to his dog, the story is fascinating. You grow to love Zeus as much as Ayham and simultaneously get a deeper understanding of the anguish lurking under the Syrian refugee crisis.
Honestly, I could go on forever, but these stories are genuinely best seen for yourself, with Netflix’s bingeable format adding to the excellence of Dogs. If you haven’t seen it yet, I implore you to snuggle up with your own furry friend, feed it as many treats as you can and take in a near-spiritual examination of what dogs mean to us.