There’s a real-life character in it named the Harlem Poop Fairy, but Helen Slinger’s latest doc doesn’t go to the transgressive places your dirty mind might think. Dog Dazed is, in fact, about the increasingly complicated issue of dog ownership, with the 30,000 tons of feces our canine friends deposit in North America on any given day being just one of the problems the film examines.
As a “dog person” herself, Slinger brings an admirable balance to the film, which also covers the threat posed by domestic pets to Vancouver’s heron population and the almighty human battle over a city-approved—now revoked—off-leash zone in Toronto’s upscale Ledbury Park.
“I hope it doesn’t get people fighting,” Slinger told the Straight. “What I wanted it to do was just raise some issues, and I wanted it to tweak dog owners in the same way that doing the research tweaked me. We’re all so crazy about our dogs, it’s just very easy to be blinded about them.”
On the whole, the film’s affection for dogs is loud and clear, and includes a fascinating contribution on our cross-species relationship from Inside of a Dog author Alexandra Horowitz, along with some solid advice from New York trainer Bill Berloni on finding the right breed for urban life. (He recommends mutts: “Nature is so much wiser than we are, and they do everything well,” Berloni says.)
“In some ways it feels like the news-you-can-use part,” Slinger noted. “It’s really important in terms of cutting down conflict and just making it easier on the dog. End up with the wrong dog in the city, and you know who pays.”
Dog Dazed premieres Thursday (March 21) on CBC-TV, with an additional screening on Saturday (March 23) on the CBC News Network.