To celebrate the return of Country Calendar to TVNZ1, Alex Casey tracks down the show’s biggest canine fan.
This Sunday night at seven o’clock, Suki will run to the television and demand that her parents turn on TVNZ1 so she can hear her favourite theme song. She’ll then sit, nose against the screen, to watch the return of her favourite programme Country Calendar. She’ll be hoping that there are pigs, perhaps some farm dogs, but won’t be as interested in watching bees. Suki is a 12 year old border collie, and she’s loved Country Calendar her whole doggone life.
“She started to get interested in television when she was just a puppy,” Suki’s owner and Greytown resident Maura Marron says. “During the soccer world cup we’d be getting up in the middle of the night to watch games. There’d be food and clapping and lots of noise, so I think she associated TV with having a bit of a party.” Even after New Zealand was booted from the world cup, Suki continued to wake up at 2am and run to the TV, whining for it to be turned on.
Ever since then, Suki’s appetite for screentime has been insatiable. “After the world cup she got really into watching anything with animals,” Marron remembers. “One night we were channel surfing and the movie Babe was on TV. She particularly likes pigs, so she just sat there and watched the whole movie, she was just fascinated.” Marron has since bought Babe on DVD for Suki, who she says is now familiar with the story and “cries in the sad bits.”
But not even Babe compares to the weekly joys of rural life on Country Calendar, Suki’s paws-down favourite thing to watch. New Zealand’s longest-running television series has been on screens since 1966, and was a huge favourite in the Marron household well before Suki arrived. “My parents always used to watch it,” says Marron. “I always like it when they look at beekeeping or fishing, but Suki is not so keen on those bits.”
By the time she was one year old, Suki was able to recognise the opening twangs of the iconic Country Calendar theme song and would rush into the lounge from outside as soon as she heard them. “It’s her absolute favourite programme,” says Marron. “Every Sunday she’s right up in front of the screen. If an animal is in pain or something she tilts her head to the side, her ears prick up and move around – she’s definitely watching and understanding it.”
What makes Suki’s obsession all the more impressive is that she somehow knows what day of the week the show airs. “She knows that when the news finishes on a Sunday, Country Calendar is going to be on. She won’t get excited at the end of the news on a Tuesday or a Wednesday or a Thursday night, but after the news on the weekend she’ll start to bark because she knows her music is about to come on,” says Marron. “I don’t know how it happens, but it happens.”
Suki hates the summertime because that’s when Country Calendar goes off air. Luckily, there are safeguards in place for the dry season. The neighbours are dog enthusiasts and sometimes have Suki over for a slumber party to watch their Country Calendar box set DVDs. Marron keeps a couple of episodes recorded on the MySky and brings them out when the withdrawals set in. “She will wait for the TV to be switched on when it’s Country Calendar time. If we are sitting in the kitchen, she’ll go sit in front of the TV and start whining until someone turns it on.”
Marron doesn’t know exactly why Country Calendar has struck such a deep chord with Suki for over a decade. “She just knows what she likes, I suppose. I’m no dog psychologist but it’s clearly a show that she enjoys and its got a distinctive theme song. When she hears it, she knows that her favourite show is about to come on and she’s about to have a great half an hour.”
Watch Hyundai Country Calendar tonight at 7pm on TVNZ1.
This content was created in paid partnership with TVNZ. Learn more about our partnerships here.