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    A Dog’s Life reveals how our best friends perceive the world - from the moment they take their first morning walk to the time they curl up at our feet to go to sleep. We accompany Daisy, a Jack Russell Terrier, through an average day and on the way discover that, while dogs are not miniature humans, they are amazingly well adapted to life with us.

    But how well do we know them? A Dog’s Life explores the widely assumed facts that may actually be based on faulty and out-dated research. Is your dog really like a wolf? Does she need you to be the “alpha” dog, so she knows where to fit into your pack? Do they really see in black and white? Is it true that dogs have an amazing sense of direction?

    A Dog's Life is an exploration of the senses, mind and behaviour of our four-legged friends. It’s a journey that takes us from St. John’s, Newfoundland to Budapest, Hungary. On the way we discover how scientists are exploring that, sometimes, very alien world, often overturning long held beliefs and perceptions.

    Everyone knows that dogs have a great sense of direction, or so we thought. But that’s not what Krista Macpherson at the University of Western Ontario, found.  Drawing on tests done previously on rats and pigeons, Macpherson constructed a dog-size maze consisting of 8 arms radiating from a central hub. At the end of each arm is a bowl containing a treat. A dog is placed in the centre of the maze and observed as it tries to find the treats in all the bowls. The ideal strategy is to start at one arm and continue to each of the other arms – not returning to a previously explored arm – until all of the treats have been eaten.

    Rats are great at speeding through this kind of maze, so do pigeons. Dogs? Surprisingly not so well, in fact they are really bad at it. Even given lots of repetitions they don’t seem to improve.

    While dogs might come up short on some of our expectations, Macpherson’s experiments are revealing that dogs also have remarkable abilities we never anticipated. Who would have thought that they can count? In A Dog’s Life we’ll watch as a simple homemade apparatus constructed from cardboard boxes and plastic bowls provides the proof of that astounding claim.

    Ingenious experiments and meticulous observation reveal that the problems dogs solve best are those that involve interacting with humans. They are social creatures highly adapted to understanding even our subtlest gestures. For those of us who struggle to teach our pet the basic commands like sit or stay it is astounding to watch as Prof. Adam Miklosi of the Family Dog Project in Budapest trains a dog to carry out a variety of complex activities using only the command “do as I do”.

    Dogs fit so well into human society that we have bred them into the most varied species in the world. But every one of them, from the giant Newfoundland to the tiniest Chihuahua, is descended from that most widely feared predator – the wolf. But unlike the wolf, dogs and humans developed a deep mutual sympathy, which after thousands of years resulted in dogs not only preferring human company to that of other dogs, but also provided them with an uncanny ability to understand us.

    Filmmakers Daniel & Donna Zuckerbrot of Reel Time Images, wrote, directed, and produced this fresh and playful look inside the mind of man’s best friend.

    Credits (Click to expand)


    Annette Bradford

    associate producer
    Robert Ballantyne
    Olena Sullivan


    produced, directed and written by
    Daniel Zuckerbrot
    Donna Zuckerbrot
    director of photography
    Michael Grippo

    Carole Larsen

    original music
    Marvin Dolgay
    associate producer
    Joshua Zuckerbrot

    graphic design
    Christian Castel

    additional camera
    Joshua Zuckerbrot
    location sound
    Ian Challis
    Jim Goodwin
    Michael Josselyn

    Bryan Hoffman
    production assistants
    Adam Cohen
    Daniel Dutka
    Zach Gayne


    Rachel Zuckerbrot

    dog wrangler
    Carolyn Harper

    jib operator
    Robert Armstrong

    jib assistant
    Thanalee Pelle
    studio elements

    art director
    Diana Abbatangelo

    set dressers
    Rachel Ford
    Drew Lint

    art department assistant
    Marcus Groebner

    Josh Pelham

    Jack O'Brian
    Mike Preuss
    still photographer
    Gary Beechey

    Lorraine Grant

    sound editor
    Alan Geldart
    sound mixer
    Rudy Michael

    narration recording
    Chris McLaren

    online editor
    Colin Campbell

    project manager
    Christian Carruthers
    legal affairs
    Richard Hanet, Lewis Birnberg Hanet, LLP

    Richard Warburton, Kay & Warburton

    Front Row Insurance Brokers Inc.

    with special thanks to
    Joe Blankier
    Gale Rubenstein
    Ashley O'Brien
    Bill Roberts
    Andre Yeu

    Dalhousie University
    Duke University
    Eötvös Loránd University
    Family Dog Project
    Huron University College
    Memorial University of Newfoundland
    Western University
    Forest City Kennel Club
    Stills & Films

    Filmed partially on location and with the permission of the Parks Canada Agency, at Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site of Canada, Nova Scotia

    produced with the participation of



    The Canadian Film or
    Video Production Tax Credit

    with the assistance of the Government of Ontario –
    The Ontario Film & Television Tax Credit

    a Reel Time Images production

    executive producers
    Daniel Zuckerbrot
    Donna Zuckerbrot

    in association with

    Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
    (CBC LOGO)

    for the nature of things

    senior producers
    Caroline Underwood

    executive producer
    Sue Dando




    for the nature of things

    online editing
    Jessica Nardi

    associate director
    Renée Moreau

    unit production manager
    June Hall

    for the nature of things

    senior manager
    Documentary Unit
    Wilma Alexander

    senior producers
    Caroline Underwood
    FM Morrison
    for the nature of things

    executive producer
    Sue Dando

    executive director
    Documentary Programming
    Mark Starowicz

    The Nature of Things
    with David Suzuki

    produced by
    Canadian Broadcasting Corporation



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