“Getting involved in the show A Dog for Life was a natural fit for us. Hill’s has always been committed to transforming lives, those of pets, and in turn their pet parents. Since 2002, the Hill’s Food, Shelter & Love Programme has provided shelters with the life-changing nutrition they need to help homeless pets find forever homes,” says Carla Bath from Hill’s Pet Nutrition. That’s why, to celebrate the launch of A Dog for Life Hill’s gave consumers 25% off (up to R500) their next Hill’s purchase. For every coupon redeemed, Hill’s donated a meal to a shelter pet in need. “We’re proud to say that we’ve donated 2,250kg of food which equates to 14 000 meals to pets in need.”
Mid-winter, and the third wave of COVID-19 having just hit, it was going to take a lot to get us out of our flunk. When the local docu-series A Dog for Life launched on Netflix in June, it brought us the tears of joy, heart-warming moments, and laugh out loud encounters we’d been aching for.
While presenter and show ideator Sue White, producer and co-director Samantha Gray and main sponsors Hill’s Pet Nutrition believed in the show and its concept from the beginning, never could they have imagined the life-changing positive impact it would have on so many people. “For me, landing the show on Netflix was the ultimate tail wagging moment, and then we trended twice on the platform, local celebrities such as Holly Rey, Darren Simpson, Msizi James and more tagged us on social media, and our trending hashtag day on Twitter received approximately three million impressions,” explains Gray.
A show where ‘finding the one’ takes on a whole new meaning, it’s about the extraordinary, very tangible bond between people and shelter dogs. Over the course of the show’s 13 episodes, White matches shelter dogs with their forever homes around Cape Town. Through a quirky doggy dating process, she helps humans to look beyond the fluff and fall in love with the one. The dogs are a mix of scruffy, grubby, perky, goofy, beautiful, shy, boisterous, delinquent, and angelic. Despite being abandoned, with a stroke of luck they have found their way to their halfway houses at existing shelters – Fallen Angels, Animal Welfare Society of South Africa, Animal Welfare Society Stellenbosch, Honey’s Garden, Animal Anti Cruelty League (AACL), DARG, WOOF Project and Cape of Good Hope SPCA.
We already know the emotional support our pets can provide us with, and while the benefits of having a pet nearby is well researched and documented, in recent months it’s come to light that watching pet shows and videos is a mood-lifter in itself and can help build stress resilience. By simply watching animal-related shows your brain releases feel-good hormones such as dopamine and serotonin helping us remain calm and happy. As these animals do fun stuff on social media or television, our happiness rates also increase.
Several studies have hinted at the benefits of viewing pictures and shows of cute animals, and these benefits might be more far-reaching than we think. While no single study provides a complete picture, a group of studies shows a link between cute animal videos, and shows, and less stress—and possibly greater satisfaction within many areas of our lives, such as our relationships, resilience to certain stressors, and an increase in productivity when watching these shows.
With the help of influencers and celebrities to spread the word, awareness of the show has reached far and wide. “The over two million impressions, and counting, from influencer and celebrity campaigns, and almost 100 mentions in the media, speaks directly to how as humans we’re craving feel-good stories with happily ever afters,” adds Bath.
The love and bond between a pet and pet parent is unlike any other. This show highlights this in the most special way, and we can’t wait for even more people to see it for themselves, she concludes.