Animal Planet takes viewers on wildlife adventures around the world, from the Himalayas to the jungles of Borneo. Tomorrow — Nov. 29 — the cable channel’s popular Dogs 101 program will take them to Oak Bluffs. At the center of the segment are Paul Buckley and Russell Shapiro, two sixth graders at the Oak Bluffs School who will share the screen with a show of adorable Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers.
Saturday’s episode will feature profiles of Pugs, Weimaraners, Maltese and Akitas. The segment on Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers, a breed known for its friendly disposition and hypoallergenic coat features Paul and Russell romping with 15 puppies around Ocean Park and State Beach.
Paul’s mother, Chris Buckley, says she received a phone message from Animal Planet last summer. The message stated the channel had found her on the Internet and wanted to use her puppies to introduce the breed to the viewing public. Ms. Buckley, a professional dog breeder and graduate of the University of Massachusetts Animal Science program, initially dismissed the call as a joke and didn’t reply. When the producers called again, she told them they needed to come quickly because the puppies were about to go to their new homes. Ms. Buckley wasn’t convinced the call was legitimate until the film crew showed up on the Island, ready to shoot. The crew joined Ms. Buckley, Paul, Russell and the 15 pups in the park.
“The puppies put on a good show,” Ms. Buckley says, describing how they jumped into the fountain pond in the middle of the park. Next they went to State Beach, where the puppies dashed about the shore. In all, the filming took four hours.
Paul is a born animal lover who is active in the Farm Institute’s FIT (Farmers-In-Training) program where he milks cows and goats, herds sheep, collects eggs and helps with farm chores. According to his mother, he has a natural, gentle touch with animals.
“Paul really communicates with them. They love him,” she says. “He’ll sit with the animals for hours. The goats and chickens follow him. We’ll go to the dog park and dogs that aren’t normally friendly will go right to him. Animals know he likes them and take to him.”
When Paul’s friend Russell came over that day he had no idea he would be appearing on national television.
“I had a Volcom shirt on and I had to turn it inside out to hide the logo,” he says. “My mom had to sign a waiver to approve that I was on TV. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience to be on Animal Planet.”
While Paul says he’s excited to appear on television, his greatest enthusiasm is held for the animals themselves. The Buckleys own three terriers themselves, Chessie, Katie and Dixie. For him, the best part of having the dogs is not the flash of media fame but the companionship they provide.
“At night they will sleep on your bed with you and cuddle,” he says. “It’s like having your own little sidekick around with you all the time.”