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USA, 1998 (MIFF 1999, Documentaries)

Director: A.J. Poulin

"The more I see of men, the more I like my dog," said Frederick the Great. The trouble is, you can get to like your dog a little too much, and that's what A.J. Poulin's whimsical but fascinating dog-umentary is all about. Poulin set out to examine the bizarre habits, rituals and foibles of Los Angeles pooch owners. In true Hollyweird fashion he has uncovered a subculture of obsessives, eccentrics and garden variety neurotics.

Do dogs really need prozac? What about accupuncture, psychic readings, tattoos, wheelchairs or daycare with arts and crafts?! Seems so. Poulin began by taking his own black Labrador, Zoie, to designated LA 'dog parks', grassed suburban expanses designed specilically for dogs to romp, run, meet other dogs... and for their owners to do the same. Poulin's first discovery is the active single's scene taking place at the dog parks, owners unashamedly admitting to exploiting their hounds to make the acquaintance of the opposite sex.

A.J. then moves on to fhe 'only in America' section of his opus: "What with the separation anxiety he was being over-bonded with me. A little eating disorder thrown in there, ultimately this led to us putting him on anti-depressants. He's drug-free now though." Canine emotional crisis? No, jus! an owner recounting the trial of his mutt missing him when he went to work each day!

When the busy pup-owning executive has a hectic schedule, sometimes the loving needs to be the responsibility of a professional. Welcome to Doggie Daycare. Busy Los Angelenos drop off their dish-lickers secure in the knowledge that they will be treated to a day of pampering, story-time, naps, snacks, paw painting and cosy canine interaction in the hands of experts. An outrageous, clever, curious and hilarious look at a very peculiar breed... of human.

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