If you like the idea of an animal rescue center set up like a dating agency, you’ll want to add The Dog House: UK to your streaming list right away.
This new eight-episode HBO Max docuseries sees singles, couples, and families traveling to Wood Green, a dog rescue center in the English countryside, in hopes of matching with the perfect pet. Though The Dog House is repetitive at times, it’s still plenty of fun.
The series purports to be a “dating” show for dogs and their owners — and though it doesn’t contain the drama typically associated with a matchmaking series, its setup remains clever.
Each episode, about 47 minutes long, features three households on the hunt for a furry friend. After the prospective pet owners check into Wood Green and describe their ideal pup, the rescue center’s employees head to the computer to search through their files and find the perfect match based on breed and personality. After they track down a strong candidate, they return to the hopefuls with the results.
Then it’s time for a trip to the Meeting Pen, a grassy fenced-in area where the potential owners get to interact with dogs to see if it’s love at first sight. Then, viewers are taken back to each family’s home to find out whether or not they adopted the dogs of their dreams.
Naturally, the docuseries has a huge cute factor. Viewers are introduced to a Pomeranian that looks like a stuffed animal, a fluffy Lhasa-cross, and an excitable litter of German Shepherd puppies. The dogs have equally adorable names like Ruby, Loki, Bluebell, and Wally.
When these pets aren’t busy meeting their potential owners, they’re shown playing with their handlers, going on walks, getting baths, and taking rests. It’s sweet to see the workers bond with the dogs, and it’s even more satisfying to see the animals — many of whom were previously abused — get the care they’ve been needing.
While the dogs themselves are the biggest reason to watch The Dog House, the show also utilizes sharp camera angles, vibrant colors, and playful music. Additionally, Wood Green’s modern furniture inside and manicured pathways outside makes the series aesthetically pleasing. It’s well-produced and lighthearted.
Image: HBO Max
One of the subtle downsides to the show is that while the life experiences of the potential owners vary, most of them appear to be middle- to upper-class individuals. While there is of course no way to know for sure, certain details, like the homes they live in, suggest this. Furthermore, while there is some cultural and racial diversity in the mix, the Dog House only features a few people of color. Including more doggie hopefuls from different backgrounds would have added additional layers to the show, and perhaps made it a little less mundane at times. As it turns out, having similar people results in similar personal narratives.
Some of the couples want to fill their lives with a puppy in place of a child, while others want a pet to cure loneliness or help their mental health. Each individuals’ experience is valid, but a handful of the stories blended together due to their commonalities. For example, I can recall the woman who wanted to adopt a dog to replace her married-to-someone-else boyfriend much better than I can remember the various kids ready for a first pet. Because these stories are such a big part of each episode, The Dog House could have better engaged had it honed in on what makes each adoptee unique every time rather than just some of the time.
Adding to the repetitiveness of the series is its stiff format. While occasionally the prospective owners are presented with a “big” twist — like getting to choose between two pups instead of one — there is little variation among the episodes. The show’s predictability caused my attention to sometimes slip.
Despite its lack of surprises, The Dog House is still likely to delight you, particularly if you’re a dog person. You’ll “aww” a whole lot and smile at all the sweet puppy faces that show up. The docuseries is especially a solid watch if you’re looking for something carefree and cute. And, these days, who isn’t?
The Dog House: UK is now streaming on HBO Max.