Louis Theroux’s LA Stories ‘City of Dogs’

Hooray for a new series from the documentary maker who first pointed out to us that Savile was a bit creepy. ‘I called my mother ‘The Duchess’. Here’s her wardrobe of clothes, just as she left them’. Shudder. Sorry, let’s not think about it. This three part series is about life in Los Angeles and this week it was ‘a journey through canine companionship’.

Now first, a warning. The programme contained upsetting scenes of dogs: bad, delinquent, street dogs, ‘weaponised’ dogs and dogs with ‘broken hearts’.

We met Cornelius Austen or ‘Dog Man’ who was a self confessed ‘pit-bull enthusiast’. Not the Hispanic rapper/singer-kind (wooo-eeee!), but the snarling, drooling, barking kind. Like a dog-themed Pied Piper, he cared for the abandoned dogs of LA, cruising round in his car and telling us, ‘there is no dog, I can’t get’. I bet he couldn’t get one of the Queen’s corgies. Or Lassie. When happening upon a particularly troubled dog, choking back tears, he translates for us the violent barking as, ‘I’m in pain. I have fleas. My heart is broken’. Dog Man himself was a friendly ex-gang member, who seemed the forlorn keeper of a broken heart. He’d lost his mother and father early on, and his relationship had recently broken down, seemingly in a dog-related dispute. She said, ‘all you do is help people with their dogs, and I’m tired of it’. We could sort of see her point. But Dog Man was undeterred – ‘I’m a dog man, and I’m going to be a dog man ‘til I die’. Girl, there’s just no reasoning with a man like that *Finger snaps in a ‘Z’*.

Then there was Malcolm, who kept a ‘weaponised dog’ for protection, under a sign that said ‘Beware of the Dog’. Somehow, the sign didn’t really emphasise the situation strongly enough. ‘Run for your life’ might have been more appropriate.

Retired fire-fighter Greg had a scary looking Doberman called Lexi whom he lovingly told, ‘I will never leave you’. He went on to tell us that he’d been abandoned as a child by his father. ‘Ohhhhh, ok’, we nodded solemnly, as a nation.

Max and Nancy were flaky, arty types who were the wholly unlikely owners of a little black and white nightmare called Casper. In the seemingly heart-warming story of how they came to own this dog they told us, ‘he was staring at us through the bars and (we) just fell in love with him’. On their very first family walk, they realised Casper had ‘some problems’. Seems like what they thought was the look of love was actually the look of, ‘I want to bite you to death’. As they cowered in the corner of their sitting room, it was clear that little Casper had completely ruined their lives. Louis pointed out that if a human behaved this way, they’d ‘be acting like a dick’ and to be fair, Casper was acting like a bit of a dick. Sadly, after attacking Nancy’s ankle, we learned that Casper had been put down and that they now had a much more suitable pet called Belvedere whowas much calmer and more like a cushion than a dog.

The South LA dog pound was a wretched place where dogs rarely came back out. Reminiscent of Death Row in Louis’s previous docu-series, ‘Miami Mega Jail’, dogs snarled and growled and one by one were selected for the long walk. It was sad to see these hopeless creatures, so mistreated that they were now too aggressive to coexist with humans. Kennel Manager Leslie said that all her staff take Xanax to cope with the sadness. Seemingly, whether you’re a dog or human being, a broken heart is a broken heart. Tune in next week for another likely sob-fest when Louis looks at how Americans handle death.

Louis Theroux’s LA Stories airs Sundays on BBC2 from 9pm

First published by TVGuide.co.uk

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