TV Skeptic: 'Ghost Hunters' goes to the dogs
Programs about supernatural investigation are big on cable right now, and people always like shows that feature dogs. On Wednesday night's episode of "Ghost Hunters," the TAPS team introduced a new member: Maddie, the 'Ghost Hunting Dog.' Brilliant! The concept practically markets itself.
While the idea of a dog that hunts ghosts is not original (think "Scooby-Doo"), it's also not a bad idea.
"We've been able to teach her to let us know if there is any signs of animal activity in a location," says TAPS lead investigator and dog handler Jason Hawes. "Also, she picks up on high-magnetic fields."
OK, dogs have a really good sense of smell, better hearing and night vision than humans, and are keenly aware of animal activity (particularly squirrels). Sensitivity to "high-magnetic fields" is a bit of a stretch.
But all those other traits could prove useful. In several recent "Ghost Hunter" episodes, it seemed that rodents may have complicated the investigations, and perhaps Maddie could have sniffed them out.
Note for the future: I wouldn't bring Maddie along on any investigations of hauntings at the Queen Mary. Based on the surprise the "Fact or Faked" team found in the bowels of the retired ocean liner, I think that could end badly.
But in the run-of-the-mill investigation at the Hotel Alex Johnson in Rapid City, S.D., she seemed to handle herself pretty well.
"She's basically an untainted investigator," says Grant Wilson, describing the balance Maddie brings to the TAPS team, "She's not bringing in any predispostions, she hasn't made any judgments ahead of time, whether this place is haunted or not, you can't get more honest than a dog."
Maddie may be the most skeptical member of the team. It's too bad she disappears after about 15 minutes into the episode. I was hoping she'd help prove the hauntings were faked by the greedy hotel manager with the goatee who was trying to drum up business by spreading rumors the place is haunted. (You know, just like Scooby.)
Instead, the team reviewed their evidence and when they reported their results, they indicated they saw things they couldn't explain, but this time, they didn't explain them as supernatural.
Maybe Maddie is having a positive influence.
-- By Ed Stockly
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Photo: Grant WIlson. Credit: Mark Stehle/Syfy