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Taxidermy on TV

Meter maids. Storage-unit foragers. Turtle trackers. And now, taxidermists.

Reality television has already poked into the far corners of Americans’ working lives, but this might be near the limit for some of us: American Stuffers, a show about pet taxidermists, premiering on Animal Planet Jan. 5.

The name is a bit crass, to be sure, especially since the show focuses on bereaved pet owners who come to Xtreme Taxidermy in Romance, Ark., to have their beloved animals preserved for posterity. One clip shows a couple arriving to pick up the taxidermied version of their Chihuahua, Toot Toot: No matter how you feel about the practice, it’s easy to sympathize with them as they tearfully examine and pet the mounted Toot Toot.

American Stuffers also introduces viewers to the people behind Xtreme Taxidermy, turning them into “characters” of their own: Daniel Ross and his bookkeeping wife LaDawn run the shop with help from staffers Fred (a country character), Dixie (squeamish veterinary student), and Joseph (bold younger guy). Daniel and LaDawn’s three young sons get an eyeful of the family business, too.

The show’s press release promises that audiences will “laugh, cry, and squirm”—not the most appealing description, but probably an apt one considering the subject. Indeed, a warning pops up that “this program contains material that may be disturbing to some viewers.”

It’s hard not to think about your own pets when watching the show. How do you feel about taxidermy-- is it a touching tribute or a ghoulish anachronism? Would you consider having your dog taxidermied? Do you know someone who’s done it?

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Kathleen St. John is a freelance writer for target The Denver Post and The Onion's A.V. Club, and a lifelong dog lover. She lives in Denver, Colo., with her husband, John, and her dog, Daisy, who's a mix of just about everything. avclub.com

Photo of Daniel Ross courtesy of Animal Planet

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Submitted by Pamela | January 2 2012 |

My parents were friends with a couple who ha a pet raccoon. When Peppy died, they had her stuffed and put her on the mantel. It was bizarre.

But who am I to tell someone who to process their grief?

Submitted by Taryn | January 4 2012 |

I certainly would NOT stuff a human family (assuming, of course, that it was legal), so I am not more likely to stuff my four-leeged family members either! It just doesn't seem right and certainly would not help my grieving process. To me it seems quite morbid and a bit gross!

Submitted by Carolyn | January 4 2012 |

I agree with Pamela, about people processing their grief in their own way ... that said, I find the idea of a television show devoted to pet taxidermy weird, creepy and in poor taste. I certainly won't be tuning in.

Submitted by Anonymous | January 16 2012 |

Kinda of insensitive showing poor little chihuahua "Toot Toot" bloody and cut up and close ups. I would be very upset to see my little companion like that on the table, I won't be watching again.

Submitted by Pam | January 17 2012 |

These people seem nice and they are just making a living, however felt it insensitive to shoo poor little "Toot Toot" the chihuahua bloody and cut up on the table and saying pull out his eye. I would just flip to see my dog "Texas" who is like family laid out like that. Don't think I will be a fan of the show. These showed are going overboard shows about little people, huggers, alligator wrestlers.......next up fastest grocery store baggers!

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