Saturday, July 03, 2010

The People Whisperer

Sally and I don't have a dog; we've never had one since we've been married, although I had a dog when I was growing up, and as a part-time business Sally pet sits for dog owners.

Still, I watch The Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan on National Geographic Channel and enjoy the show. Millan, who is 41-years-old, came to the U.S. from Mexico as an illegal immigrant when he was 21. Jada Pinkett, now Jada Pinkett Smith, put him with an English tutor for a year, and the rest is history. He became a U.S. citizen, and his show has been the top show on NatGeo several times, even though it's been severely criticized by animal rights groups. Cesar is seen as an abuser by some for his training methods.

Personally, I don't see the show as being about training dogs. I see it as training people. Cesar has an innate ability to understand animals. Some people are like that. Temple Grandin, who is high functioning autistic, can understand how an animal feels, and makes a living using that skill. I don't think Cesar is autistic, but he does understand dogs. The problem is people, who think dogs are other people. We have a tendency to anthropomorphize animals, and they are just doing their doggy thing, looking at us people as being part of their pack. So Cesar teaches people to be pack leaders. The plan is to have the dog recognize them as dominant, and hopefully the dogs will fall in line. He tells people to be calm and assertive, to have good posture, to walk the dog every day. What's bad about any of that? Sounds good to me.

So The Dog Whisperer is really a misnomer...people love their dogs, but most don't have a clue how to raise or train dogs. The show should be called The People Whisperer. Cesar is talking to people, while demonstrating with the dog how the owners should act. By doing what he says he changes people behavior, and that in turn changes the behavior of their dogs.


This is Kim, who was with my family from 1956 to 1972. And yes, we made every mistake with Kim a dog owner could make. We didn't have the benefit of watching Cesar on TV.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Kim looks like a lovely dog. I'm more of a cat person, probably because most of the dogs I know aren't well trained. With one exception; my friend Dominic has a labradoodle that is an absolute joy to behold - he knows who his master is and behaves accordingly.