‘America’s Top Dog’ – Competition with bite
Dog people who love competition shows will want to check out a series premiering this week that will undoubtedly have them sitting up and begging for more.
On “America’s Top Dog,” which debuts Wednesday, Jan. 8, on A&E Network, host Curt Menefee and expert trainer Nick White oversee the action as five canine/human teams – four police and one civilian – vie in three rounds of competition designed to test speed, agility and teamwork by completing a series of tasks on a massive obstacle course, including navigating a maze for scented items and apprehending and taking down a suspect in a bite suit.
The winner of each hourlong episode receives a $10,000 prize plus another $5,000 to donate to the animal charity of their choice and the chance to compete for the title of America’s Top Dog in the finale and win an additional $25,000.
The breeds here run the gamut from traditional police dogs like German shepherds and Belgian Malinois to unlikely choices such as Doberman pinschers, bulldogs and pit bulls. But what really makes the competitions go are the relationships between these animals and their human handlers.
“It’s really about the teamwork and the bond that that handler shares with his dog,” White explained to a recent gathering of journalists in Beverly Hills, Calif., “and … what really helps these teams get through the show successfully is it’s not so much about the training and the hours put in, but it’s just about the bond and love and the trust that the team has with the dog.
And much of that bond, according to Menefee, can be attributed to the fact that these dogs are also the handler’s housepet.
“This is his family dog,” he says. “You see the dog pose for pictures. They’re normal, everyday – most of them – dogs that people have as their pets and they take them home and they’re like us. They turn the switch on when they’re at work and when they’re at home, they’re just pets and they’re friendly and they play with the kids and those kinds of things.
“And I think that was really important for me at least to kind of highlight in this show … . We have so many negative images of police dogs in our minds that it’s not always like that. They’re not always ready to bite people.”