Animal Planet’s mission is to present projects of passion, and they are delivering upon that promise with their new series “Rescue Dog to Super Dog.” The show features dog trainers Nate Schoemer and Laura London working with a variety of individuals in need of service dogs. They visit shelters to find the perfect match, and then they begin training the animal to be able to provide the specific type of support each person needs.
“I think both of these populations — people who are disabled and shelter dogs — are marginalized and a little without voice, so I think bringing them together empowers both of them and shines a light on both groups,” London tells Variety. “The heart of the show is undeniable, and I think when people watch it, whether or not they have a disability, it’s going to speak to them.”
Over the course of the season of “Rescue Dog to Super Dog,” London and Schoemer work with 12 individuals, from former marine Kalani Cruetzburg who suffers from PTSD and depression, to Diana Theobald, who lost a leg in an accident and also suffers depression. Each person London and Schoemer work with have unique needs and hopes for what a dog can give them. Cruetzburg really needed an animal that would force him to get him up and out of the house every day, for example, while Theobald was looking for one that could help with physical tasks, like shutting off lights she forgot about at the end of the day, after she had already removed her prosthetic leg. But each dog is trained according to the same principles.
“We would work with each dog as much as that dog was capable of working but stopping when the dog was still very, very invested in the training so it’s still building the drive to want to continue to work,” Schoemer says. “There’s an analogy that another trainer told me, but I think it’s great and I use it all the time: when you’re first working with a dog, you’re a vending machine. Every time…