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TV Skeptic: 'Ghost Hunters' goes to the dogs

Et-likwzfnc-mar25 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.  

Good dog!

-- By Ed Stockly


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Comments () | Archives (8)

I stumbled across Ghost Hunters several years ago and have been a fan ever since, even though I'm a total skeptic. I know that most if not all the "evidence" the TAPS team finds is staged, either by the owners of the locations or by TAPS themselves or both.

I was surprised that they brought a dog in and my first reaction was that they had "jumped the shark" for ratings. But upon further consideration, I realized that a dog might just help expose some of the staged shenanigans, precisely because, as Grant pointed out, an animal is not subject to suggestion the way a human is. That might be why we didn't see the animal again after the first 10-15 minutes.

Ghost Hunters gets consistently high ratings because TAPS does manage to uncover "paranormal activity". The fact that it's staged is irrelevant; that's what viewers want to see and that's what keeps the show on the air. So a dog might just spoil their fun. That's why I'll be surprised if we see the dog again.

Was anybody disappointed by the Hotel Alex Johnson Episode?
Everything that they saw was chalked up to be a coinsidence. And, they didn't even give a good investigation.
This being the first Ghost Hunters I have watched, I was very dissapointed.

I stopped watching a few years ago, when they tried to hoax one of the live Halloween specials.

I think having Maddie is a great idea. It is a well known fact that animals are more sensitive to paranormal activity than humans. I can see how much Jason loves this dog. Keep on training her. She will be great!

Shoot, no doggie pix? Grrrrrr

Your article is hilarious. They should have had the dog on the show more than a few minutes for sure. What the heck was that all about? And who's dog was that? At least a dog doesn't say "dude, did you hear that? sounds like footsteps!"

I was also disappointed by the Hotel Alex Johnson episode. It seems that one night of investigation isn't enough time to get evidence or debunk all of the claims that they had about paranormal activity. In addition, it did seem that they didn't do a thorough investigation. Definitely not enough time spent on verifying data.

I like the idea of maddie "on the job"....however, I would like to see more interaction from her.....how has she been "trained" t0 do her job? And is she normally the family dog or purchased for her talents?


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