'Saved' grabs the heart

Tuesday November 15, 2011

Animal Planet is familiar as the home of garish shows like "Fatal Attractions" and "My Extreme Animal Phobia." On Monday night, though, it went for the touching rather than the tacky with "Saved," a new series about people who were in need of some kind of spiritual boost and received it from an animal.

Each episode features two real-life tales, and the ones in the premiere certainly tugged a lot of heartstrings. The first revolved around the family of Spc. Justin A. Rollins of Newport, N.H., who was killed in March 2007 while serving in Iraq.

Just before he died, he emailed pictures home in which he and other soldiers were playing with some puppies that had been living on the streets. His parents asked the Army if one of the puppies could be brought to them in New Hampshire, and two months later the red tape had been cut, and the dog, given the name Hero, arrived.

The second vignette was about a San Francisco woman named Pali Boucher who for years was homeless, unable to shake her drug addiction, until she met a hound dog in a pound and bonding occurred. She saved the dog, which was on the list to be euthanized, but, she said, the dog actually saved her.

"When he became a part of my life, it just filled my whole soul," she said. "I was anchored to this world again."

Boucher went on to found Rocket Dog Rescue, an organization that promotes animal adoption.

All the people who relate these tales exhibit Boucher's eloquence, and the program's producers -- in contrast to the hyperbolic tone of other Animal Planet shows -- let the stories speak for themselves. The main flaw of "Saved," though it sounds a bit trivial given what the humans in this show have gone through, is that we don't see enough of the animals. After all the detail we're given about the people, it would be nice to get to know the creatures they credit with so much.

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP)-- A new reality television show is looking for cast members in Alaska.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports 44 Blue Productions is seeking people for "Army Wives of Alaska."

The company has produced shows such as "The True Story of Black Hawk Down," "U.S. Navy Pirate Hunters" and "Cell Dogs."

Army Alaska is supporting the show and will host the production company when staff members interview spouses this month.

Company co-owner Stephanie Dachkovitch says she was an "Army kid" herself and her mother was an Army wife.

She says her company wants to show military spouses in extraordinary conditions. She says the company will seek spouses of military personnel in different units and ranks.

HONOLULU (AP)-- The stars of the CBS TV show "Hawaii Five-0" lent a hand off-screen to military school kids at Pearl Harbor.

Actors Alex O'Loughlin, Scott Caan, Daniel Dae Kim and Masi Oka were among the volunteers Monday helping to plant a garden at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

Husband and wife athletes Laird Hamilton and Gabrielle Reece also volunteered.

The American Heart Association Teaching Garden will serve as a hands-on way to educate children about the importance of healthy habits.

The project is part of an initiative to support U.S. veterans through community service.


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