Best Binge Buddies

Infographic shows Netflix survey results

Not without a bit of self-interest, Netflix recently published a “study” on viewers’ habits.

Not surprisingly, many people prefer watching Netflix with their pets to watching with other humans. Pets rarely hog the remote, they don’t give away the plotline, and they always let you choose the program. Pets might gobble all the binge snacks, but you still get to decide what and how much junk food to serve.

Surprises in the results? The US is only third, after India and Thailand, in terms of how many people watch with their pets. And 30 percent reported having separate profiles for solo watching vs. watching with their pets. That’s only surprising because people are actually making that distinction. Cali and I head downstairs together to watch TV. She might head off to bed before I am done watching, but it’s never the case that I say, “Oh, tonight I want to watch alone” or specifically have to invite her to join me. She’s my buddy. Evening activities are by default together… unless I am a terrible, horrible person and go out without her. Hmm, I wonder if she has a profile for watching without me

Some respondents change the show if their pets don’t seem to be enjoying it, so maybe I am wrong (or just selfish) about always getting to choose. Cali does prefer shows that have dogs in them, as long as the dogs seem happy. I’m with her on changing the channel if the dog gets hurt. She’s willing to indulge my Grey’s Anatomy addiction, though, and we both like the British baking show. She likes nature shows too.

Many viewers reconfigure their seating arrangements to accommodate their pets’ comfort, which is pretty much the story of my entire life, in front of the TV or not. Bird owners are the most attentive to their friends’ wishes, with more of them reporting that they choose shows specifically based on their pets’ preferences. I’m wondering whether that’s true of all bird owners or only those whose birds talk. Netflix does not say.

The saddest statistic is the 20 percent (!) who have to bribe their pets to watch with them … they must have really horrendous taste in TV or really uncomfortable couches. But I do relate to the 22 percent who talk to their pets about what they’re watching. As well as the one-in-three who “turn to” their pets for comfort during scary parts. If by “turn to” you mean “bury your face in the fur of,” that is!

Is your dog your TV binge buddy? Is the number of respondents who watch with their pets only 74 percent because the other 26 percent don’t have pets? How lonely …

Every Dog Needs a Hobby …

Cali is often bored. I work from home, so I spend several hours a day at the computer. Cali finds this tedious, and often suggests alternative activities. She’ll bring her ball in and suggest a game, for example. But she has also taken up a couple of pastimes on her own.

When we were still living in Petaluma, Cali (and Jana) loved spending their days out in our little yard while I worked. I put up a bird feeder, and we soon had a large flock of regular diners. They’d scatter instantly if I came out, which I found a bit hurtful. I was the one who bought and served their meals, after all. They’d settle back in to the feeder if I sat outside quietly, though, so I forgave them. They never minded the girls, though. Cali could come and go as she pleased. She spent many hours with her bird friends.

Here in Missoula, I put the bird feeder up near our patio. Cali has to watch from inside, but she lies on the carpet by the sliding patio doors and watches the birds. There’s a chubby squirrel who often pays a visit, and Cali gets very agitated. She’ll run to the office; I’m not sure if she’s trying to look out the window here or just tell me what’s going on, but she runs back and forth, panting. So I get up and chase the squirrel away. This happens three or four times and then the squirrel gives up for a few days. He always comes back, though. I suspect that he has several bird feeders, perhaps all equipped with tormentable dogs. In any case, he’s quite well fed.

The birds do not fly away when Cali is there, or when she comes and goes. But, like the Petaluma birds, as soon as I walk into the living room, they disappear. When I go out to refill the feeder, there’s not a bird in sight. They’re close by, though. They reappear within seconds after I go back inside.

When the birds leave, Cali moves to the bedroom. From the bed, she can watch the comings and goings of everyone in our building. She’s always sure to let me know when UPS or FedEX is about to knock on the door, but, unless another dog spends too much time standing outside our window, she’s content to watch quietly.

Cali’s other hobby is watching dog and wolf shows on TV. She’s sometimes interested in other nature-themed documentaries, but, really, it’s wolves and dogs. The other day, I was fiddling with a new digital antenna and managed to tune in PBS, crystal-clear. A show on arctic wolves was on. They were eating (I was not, thankfully). Cali ran in from the bedroom and sat right up in front of the TV, mesmerized. My mom always told me not to sit that close, but I didn’t think that a few minutes of watching would harm Cali’s eyes. As soon as the wolves were replaced with people, Cali lost interest.

Then, a few days later, I got a text message with a video of Dora (Cali’s sister) playing with her friends. As soon as Cali heard Dora’s bark on the video, she came running into my office. I held the phone where she could see it, and she was again, fascinated. I don’t know that she recognized Dora (maybe!), but she was certainly interested in watching the dogs play.

Cali’s great aunt, Oriel, used to love watching TV. Jana was not much of a TV girl. I’m really curious about what the TV watchers are thinking. And, who knows? Maybe Cali will improve my viewing habits. She’s shown no interest in Grey’s Anatomy, for example. Maybe I need to watch more PBS documentaries, just to spend more quality time with my dog.