Photo: Nick Jr.
“No job’s too big, no pup too small!” All you pre-schooler parents know exactly what tune I’m singing: It’s the P-P-P-P-PAW Patrol! You know, the show about Ryder (a boy who seemingly never attends school) and his six dogs—Marshall, Rubble, Chase, Rocky, Zuma and Sky—who solve every problem (usually precipitated by grown-ups) that crops up in Adventure Bay. While my almost three-year-old daughter sits mouth agape and eyes glued to the screen, I cannot help but wonder: Where are this boy's parents? And why is he allowed to own so many dogs? I don’t care about my girl’s toddler tantrums or why she won’t eat dinner, I want to know how these dogs got their drivers’ licenses—I’m a human woman and I didn’t get mine until I was 30 years old! Here are a few other concerns I have about this cult show:
1. First off, there’s no police force in the fictional town of Adventure Bay. No fire station, waste management, airlines, coastguard or construction crews either. No need for all that when Ryder and his six dogs can take care of it all! In fact, one single dog does double duty, serving as the entire fire department and EMS. And don't even get me started on snow removal. Yes Everest (season two’s new, snowy mountain pup), we see your snow plow and it is pretty awesome.
2. Rent for a one-bedroom in Toronto is staggering. Vancouver is just as bad. So tell me how this kid can afford to live in a glorified control tower with water views? Who is funding this operation? Their swanky pad is tricked out with multiple flat-screen TVs, an elevator and the best darn slide ever, plus they all drive their own fancy vehicles and have access to a Robo Dog chauffeur who commandeers both a bus and plane—for jungle or arctic rescues, obviously.
3. How is one boy allowed to own so many dogs? Ontario bylaw states that a person can legally own up to three dogs and six cats. And over in neighbouring Foggy Bottom, Mayor Humdinger (the show’s main antagonist) wreaks havoc with his six-cat Kit-tastrophe Crew. They’re all going to have some issues if Animal Control comes sniffing around.
4. While Ryder and his pups are busy keeping Adventure Bay from imploding, his best friend Katie is working as a "pet groomer and doctor at the local pet parlour." Is Katie really a vet though? Most of her screen time consists of her bathing animals and wearing pink. She also may or may not have a grandmother. While we never learn their ages, Ryder and Katie can’t be older than 15 years old, tops. Why aren’t they ever in school? Ryder once helped other kids get to school but we’ve never actually seen him attend any classes.
5. Listen, I get it. This is children's television; it's supposed to be fun and cute and whimsical and it is all that. But I do take issue, as a parent, with how the adults on PAW Patrol are portrayed. Why is the female mayor, Mayor Goodway, perpetually in hysterics? She’s afraid of heights and is often panicky. Why is Mr. Porter such a reckless driver, constantly putting his grandson's life in danger? He almost drives them off a cliff—twice! And why is Captain Turbot on the verge of obliterating all the sea life in Adventure Bay? There’s not a single competent adult in this town.
6. On the subject of animal control (see number 3), what is up with Mayor Goodway’s “purse chicken?” (She actually calls her pet this.) Is Chickaletta an emotional support chicken? The bird only seems to cause Goodway more stress—walking out onto the wings of moving planes, falling asleep in a backpack that gets tossed off a cliff and ends up in the nest of an angry eagle. Perhaps the Mayor should speak with her therapist on how counter-intuitive it may be to tote around this little clucker.
7. Children aged two to four are the key demographic of this show. This is the stage when they should be learning to share, take turns, understand and regulate their emotions—so why is there never a single clear lesson at the end of an episode of PAW Patrol? I guess kids need a break from all that learning stuff every once in a while and Adventure Bay is their escape (just like a half litre of wine and The Bachelor are mine). In my view, the only real takeaway from PAW Patrol is that with no parents you can have all the dogs you want, play endless video games and pretty much run an entire town.
8. One last thing: Can someone please help me get the freakin' theme song out of my head?!