Press Centre

Secret Life of Dogs

  • Episode: 

    3 of 3

  • Transmission (TX): 

    Tue 21 Feb 2017
  • TX Confirmed: 

    Yes
  • Time: 

    9.00pm - 10.00pm
  • Week: 

    Week 08 2017 : Sat 18 Feb - Fri 24 Feb
  • Channel: 

    ITV
  • Status: 

    Last in series
The information contained herein is embargoed from press use, commercial and non-commercial reproduction and sharing into the public domain until Tuesday 14 February 2017.
 
They’re loyal, fun, loving and brilliant companions, so it’s no wonder they’re man’s best friend. Yet they descend from the wildest of predators. So how did the much-feared wolf become the much-loved dog in the heart of the human’s home?
 
To find out, this three-part series travels all over the world to bring viewers the most remarkable stories and the latest scientific discoveries that reveal how dogs have become man’s closest companions, unrivalled working partners and trusted family members. This is dogs as you’ve never seen them before.
 
This third and final episode takes a look at the dog’s place in the family home, a place they love to be, and in return are a human’s best friend, patient and forgiving critics. It’s what’s known as unconditional love.
 
Which is remarkable given that the affable dog descends from the grey wolf - one of the most fearsome creatures on the planet. In fact, a dog’s DNA is 99.8 % grey wolf.   
 
When wolves first began to scavenge around villages over 10,000 years ago, humans welcomed only the friendliest, and as they became tamer people then began to breed them with the characteristics that they liked best. And slowly, the big bad wolf evolved into the family dog. 
 
This episode also looks at what makes humans speak to dogs like they speak to babies, using a type of universal dialect that scientists call ‘motherese’. It’s made up of high-pitched tones, short words and repeated phrases that dogs can learn very quickly, and science has revealed that dogs, just like human babies, don’t need to know the meaning of what is actually being said.  What matters, is the way in which it is being said.
 
Which is why six-month-old Ronald the poodle can not only understand English, but he also knows when he is being praised in Ghanaian Twi, and the high pitched tones and short, repeated phrases work just as well in Spanish. In fact poodle Ronald would have no trouble working out what we want him to do in every single country in the world. 
 
Also in tonight’s episode is the story of sheepdog Pero, who made an epic 400-mile cross-country journey to be reunited with his family, demonstrating how much dogs love being a part of the home. And just how did Pero do this?    
 
Scientists have newly discovered that dogs may have an inbuilt homing ability and can detect magnetic fields in the same way as migratory birds. Pero’s incredible 400-mile journey home is a record, and whilst his integral sat-nav may have helped guide him home, what motivated him to keep running? Was it a burning desire to be back with his pack – not the other dogs at the farm - but the humans who’d become his family? 
 
Also in this final episode, when Jo and husband Rich adopted Jack from a Spanish rescue centre and brought him 1000-miles to their home in the UK, he was the perfect family dog. While he quickly settled in with his new family, unbeknownst to them, something was missing from Jack’s life, and that something was still in Spain.
 
It wasn’t until Jack had been living with the family for 15-months that Jo made a shocking discovery online. She said: “I saw this urgent appeal showing video of this dog who was shutting down…every day he was getting worse and worse. He just wasn’t interested in food, they couldn’t get him to walk – he was just kind of hiding in this concrete little shed, they didn’t think he was going to survive. He was said to be pining to death over a buddy that he had made who’d left the pound about a year or so earlier.”
 
It was then, when they showed a photo of these two best buddies clinging together on the concrete in the pound, that they realised it was Jack that this dog, Alfonso, was pining for.
 
Rich said: “I think that we both knew when we looked at each other that we were going to end up with him.”
 
Four-weeks later, Alonso made the journey from Spain and arrived at the family home of Jo and Rich. After being separated for a year-and-a-half, would these former best buddies remember each other?
 
Over 1000s of years, dogs have learnt to understand a human’s emotions and to work with them as a team. Yet, there’s one important instinct that has largely remained unchanged - their primal desire to protect their pack at all costs. And sometimes, it can be very handy to have a dog that’s in tune with his inner wolf.
 
A year ago, king shepherd Sako revealed his instinct to protect when he and owner Joe, from British Columbia, were involved in a car accident, that left Joe badly injured and stranded 300 feet down a ravine.
 
Being out in the wilderness, and 30-miles from help, Sako’s ability to care for a family member kicked in and he carefully lay over Joe to keep him warm. But when a pack of coyotes approached Joe, Sako’s instincts took over and he went on the attack.
Owner Joe said: “He just bolted right in there, it was pretty intense to hear…deadly dog fighting, something you’d picture in a horror movie. It must have been eight minutes…he came back and he only had a cut right behind his ear.”
 
Sako had drawn on his wolf instincts to protect his human pack member.