With the booming popularity of unscripted TV series these days, it was only a matter of time before dogs got a reality show of their own.
Gold medalist ski racer Lindsey Vonn and her dog Lucy co-host The Pack series. At stake is a $500,000, which goes to the winners, and an additional $250,000 for the animal charity of their choice. To win the monetary prize, the teams depend on their understanding of one another’s strengths and weaknesses. In each locale, the human and dog duos face fun and exciting challenges, designed in concert with a team of accredited veterinarians and certified dog experts who also accompany the group on their journey.
“It was my job to first ensure that all of the challenges, travel plans and locations on the show were safe for the dogs,” says Nick Benger, a professional dog trainer and the Dog Safety Team Trainer on The Pack. “Then I came along on their amazing journey to ensure that everything was safe on the day, and that all of the dogs were having fun.”
Part of Nick’s job was to also be certain the dogs were not experiencing stress during the competition.
“My degree is in canine behavior, so ensuring that our dogs weren’t stressed was something I was personally very passionate about,” he says. “Amazon Prime Video did a fantastic job of facilitating that. We were empowered to intervene if we felt a dog was stressed, even if that meant cutting the production day short, giving the dog a break or making an adjustment to resolve the situation.”
During the various challenges the contestants face, it’s apparent that the bond between the canines and their humans blossoms. Contestant Lucy Riles and her 8-year-old rescue Labrador Retriever Duchess are a perfect example. Riles never imagined she would be part of a competition because she’d never competed in anything before. Plus, she is a decade older than most of the other human contestants.
“I’m a stay-at-home mom of three elementary age children, which has many demands,” she says. “My attention is often stretched thin like a rubber band. Being able to travel the world with just me and my girl, Duchess, was such a special and deeply bonding experience.”
Duchess seemed to really enjoy her time on The Pack, and even discovered a special talent: pulling sleds in the snow.
“Being a Southern California dog, Duchess had never been in snow before The Pack,” says Lucy. “She absolutely loved it, which made my heart so happy! Throughout training, one task Duchess really thrived in was pulling. So the fact that one of her best skills coincided with one of her favorite locations was truly thrilling to watch! I was such a proud dog mama.”
Featured photograph ©LillyRolnick
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