Amazing Dogs episode 3 review: Africa

DOGS – An Amazing Animal Family. Host Patrick Aryee and a small jackal pup. Photo provided by Smithsonian Channel
DOGS – An Amazing Animal Family. Host Patrick Aryee and a small jackal pup. Photo provided by Smithsonian Channel /

Amazing Dogs are all around us in the world, as the final part of this Smithsonian Channel miniseries documented with episode 3, “Africa.”

The final part of the Smithsonian Channel miniseries Amazing Dogs, episode 3, “Africa,” aired on Sunday, as host Patrick Aryee traveled around the globe to guide viewers in their quest for knowledge of many types of canines.

While “Man’s Best Friend” focused on the history of canines in general, “America” dealt with the more unusual specimens across the world, and “Africa” followed that same style.

The Red Fox was the first animal to be featured, which are easy to spot by the pointy ears and snout and bushy tail. They are the second most common canine after the domestic dog, ranging from the North African desert up to the Arctic, and researchers think they might hold the keys to understanding the domestication process.

Foxes are excellent scavengers, who use their hypersensitive hearing to locate prey (mice and voles) up to 30 meters (42 feet) away, and pounce their prey, catching a meal up to a meter deep in the snow.

The foxes focused on were located in Asia during the winter, where there was a lot of snow. There were a lot of failed pounces shown, which was entertaining.

The show then moved to the forest of central China with the rather odd Raccoon Dog, which is the only canine that goes into hibernation. They are brownish and have stubby legs, and excel at the thievery of bird eggs. Guardians of the Galaxy‘s Rocket Raccoon would feel at home hanging out with them.

The scene then moved to Africa and the Kalahari Desert, looking at the Bat-Eared Fox, which live in pairs and also have excellent hearing, with their enormous 13 centimeter ears, which require regular grooming. They are whitish-gray in coloring and their main prey is insects.

They especially love snacking on termites, so Patrick used some special equipment to listen to what a termite colony sounds like. (Strangely, they sound like Pop Rocks candy.) Bat-Eared Foxes can eat around 3,000 termites per night.

Next were the wild dogs of Nambia in southwest Africa, technically known as the African Hunting Dog.  They are the only species of canines that are entirely untameable, and prowl the savanna in packs of up to 30 members, all of whom are brownish-black and have nearly round ears.

They are long-distance runners who tag-team their hunts in order to wear down their prey, so Patrick used as remote controlled camera to display their hunting technique.

With fellow biologist Natalia Borrega, Patrick feed studies their responses to their enemies, the Hyenas. If the hyenas outnumber the wild dogs four to one, then they’ll steal a kill, while if they have a ratio less than that, then the wild dogs will likely keep their meal.

Still, wild dogs lose about a third of their kills, demonstrated by Patrick’s feeding a less-wild-than-usual pack with biologist Marlieze Van Buren. Essentially, wild dogs eat by inhaling their food as quickly as possible, which anyone from a large family will understand.

Back to the Kalahari viewers then trekked to learn about the Fennec Fox, the smallest canine in the world. At just over two pounds, they’re half the size of Chihuahuas, which is saying something.

They live on scorpions and small mammals, while capillaries in their very large ears act as air conditioning to survive temperatures that regularly reach 122 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius).

Back to Nambia we went to look at Jackals, while Patrick played with some two week old pups.  They inhabit the Skeleton Coast, where the desert meets the Atlantic Ocean, feeding on seals, which are usually killed by the larger hyenas. Jackals, like Loki, sneak around and use their wits to accomplish their goals and steal food while the hyenas take a nap.

(Also, hyenas are apparently not canines? Strange.)

As the miniseries came to a close with the third episode, some joyful domestic dogs played on the beach while Patrick’s voiceover summarized the wide variety of creatures viewers encountered.

The musical score was especially good this episode, as an operatic score made wild creatures hunting in slow motion turn into a type of ballet.

Next. Amazing Dogs episode 2 review: America. dark

Did you learn anything new about canines that you didn’t know before? What did you enjoy most about the series?