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Handpicked by Billie: National Pet Day Edition!

Welcome to today’s special edition of Handpicked by Heather, where I’m handing over the leash to my dog Billie Holiday who, with help from the family cat Scooter McNeuter, has created a special list of WTIU PBS Passport selections in honor of National Pet Day.

Greetings, humans!

We four-legged types love watching WTIU as much as you do, so Scooter and I are pawsitively excited to recommend some of our favorite pet-centric PBS programs today. Grab a hearty bowl of kibble and a cozy spot on the couch (if you’re allowed) and join us as we celebrate National Pet Day with the WTIU PBS Passport member benefit!

Happy Streaming!

Billie the Brindle Boxer Mix


Human Footprint: Man’s Best Friend

You may be surprised to find a dog and cat collaborating to create this blog. Although most members of our respective species have contentious relationships, Scooter and I get along surprisingly well; we snuggle together on the same bed, nuzzle snoots when the humans aren’t looking, and even rough house together like a couple of puppies. Nonetheless, we did have a bit of a tiff deciding which PBS show to lead this list with. We finally had to flip an ID tag to decide! As you can see, the Man’s Best Friend episode of the six-episode documentary Human Footprint won the toss—and rightly so. Host Shane Campbell-Staton really gets us dogs! He's a biologist who explains why we are much more than man's best friend, going behind the scenes to show how we dogs have shaped human evolution and left an indelible pawprint on the world. Tune in to learn the stories behind Arctic sled dogs, Duke University's puppy kindergarten, street dogs of Mexico City, and much more with your WTIU PBS Passport member benefit!


Dog Tales

NOVA: Dog Tales

Speaking of man’s best friend, here’s another program that takes a deep dive into the dog-human relationship. (I told Scooter that we could feature a cat program next, but he’s asleep in the windowsill, so, true to my boxer/bully nature, I’m barreling ahead with my own agenda. You snooze, you lose, buddy!). The Dog Tales episode of  NOVA opens with the question as to whether we dogs truly love our human companions—or are we just in this relationship for the food? I can speak from personal experience that the canine food drive is strong, but scans of dog’s brains reveal more to the story. Track down the answer to this question and many more when you watch Dog Tales with your WTIU PBS Passport benefit!


Cat Tales

NOVA: Cat Tales

Scooter is still napping, so I was planning to insert another dog program here. (Really, how does that guy manage to sleep so much?!). However, I’ve just been informed by my human that PBS is known for presenting fair and balanced programming, so I guess it’s time to feature some feline-forward content. Like its Dog Tales episode, NOVA’s Cat Tales episode examines cats’ relationships with humans, based on brain science, behavioral science, and evolutionary history. Unlike us dogs, who wear our hearts on our muzzles, cats are an enigma. What is their story? What are they feeling? Why are they so weirdly independent? And, seriously, why DO they sleep so much? Sniff out the answers to these questions and more with your WTIU PBS Passport member benefit!


All Creatures Great and Small with Dalmation

All Creature Great and Small

We bet you didn’t see this recommendation coming, did you? BOL! (That’s “bark out loud,” in case you were wondering). Our human has touted ACGS in her Handpicked blog multiple times, and while we pets concur that it is an excellent series, we would prefur to see less focus on the human characters and more emphasis on the actual creatures. After all, it’s not called All “Humans” Great and Small! And while Scooter and I are hoping the next season will bring more depth to the stories of our favorite characters Dash, Jess, Tricki Woo, Cedric, and Oscar, we were running in circles when we learned we could meet the animal actors who portray these pets in this special feature. Did you know that you can also watch all four seasons of All Creatures with your WTIU PBS Passport member benefit? And, in case you haven’t heard the news, Masterpiece has confirmed that the series has been renewed for two more seasons—including the return of our favorite human character Tristan. We can’t wait!



The Durrells in Corfu

Here is another paw-warming show that features loads of adorable critters. While Scooter and I agree that we would once again like to see less human drama and more animal antics, we give The Durrells in Corfu two thumbs up (well, we don’t actually have opposable digits, but you get the idea). Like All Creatures, the series is based on the real-life memoirs of one of the main characters and tells a story of family, community, and love for animals. In the first episode, struggling widow Louisa Durrell and her four children, ranging in age from 11 to 21, move from England to the Greek Island of Corfu to find a better life. Watch all four seasons with your WTIU PBS Passport member benefit to see the sometimes comical, sometimes poignant ways that the family’s story unfolds. We bet it will get your tail wagging!



Nature: My Bionic Pet

You are likely familiar with inspirational stories of service animals who are specially trained to care for their human companions. In fact, there are several PBS programs that feature such remarkable animals; Mind, Body, Spirit-Animals and The Greatest Bond are two of our favorites that are available with the PBS Passport benefit. But what about the humans who are specially trained to care for disabled animals? The episode My Bionic Pet from the series NATURE tells the story of pets who aren’t as able-bodied as Scooter and I are. But thanks to the humans in their lives—owners, veterinarians, and researchers—these animals are using cutting edge prosthetics, specialized equipment, and other advances in animal medicine to become mobile and independent. Meet inspiring animals like Tripod the llama, Driftwood the cattle dog, Molly the pony, and Chris P. Bacon the pig, whose dogged determination is proving that all animals can live pawsitive and fulfilling lives!