If you've never heard of the Dog Whisperer, I'm about to rock your world. If you have heard of him, I wonder if you've found the official YouTube collection where you can watch dozens of episodes for free, or if you've applied his philosophy to your own dog.
As has now been well-documented, we want a puppy. On a mid-week evening, only hours after I'd put a post whinging about the difficulties of securing our desired breed, we got a call. There's been a cancellation, would we be interested in a ruby, male Cavalier King Charles? Yes, yes we would. We pick him up this Thursday.
Having now secured a puppy, it would be a sensible time to start researching what the dog will need physically and mentally to be a healthy, well-behaved dog. Of course, we were already up to our neck in episodes and books from Cesar Milan, Dog Whisperer. In fact, we'd be studying Cesar since before we even knew we'd be allowed to get one from our real estate. Some would call us enthusiastic.
Cesar claims himself to be a dog psychologist, which can sound suspiciously fruity to some. However, he's the most effective animal behaviour specialist I've ever encountered. He solves common problems like chewing, biting, aggression and hyper-excitement in minutes. Quite clearly an introvert of high intelligence, Cesar pleasingly steers away from the cliche Californian TV presenter that so many of his colleagues on National Geographic become. In fact, early episodes of The Dog Whisperer show Cesar somewhat uncomfortable with the camera and the prospect of hosting his own show. These days however, Cesar's grown into a confident small empire.
There's no magic to what he does. Cesar explains everything, offering clearly researched logic behind everything he does. His memorable line 'I rehabilitate dogs, I train humans', suggests that the problems most frequently lies with human owners, not the pet. Dogs brains, it may surprise you to learn, function different to human brains. (I know, right?) Cesar emphasises scent and energy to direct your dog - that's how they read you, after all. We often default to the dog's weakest senses - sight and hearing, to try and re-direct their behaviour. No dice.
Cesar's work also means a lot spiritually. A dog needs a pack leader, which means you need to take on a leadership role in your own life and home. For many, this can be life-changing. To force yourself to walk confidently, to emit an energy that says 'I'm in control and I know what's going on' in all situations all of the time is a spiritual challenge that allow us to become better people, and better pet-owners.
Of particular benefit to us has been one of Cesar's later publications How to Raise the Perfect Puppy, which we've devoured. Yes, we've become quite smitten with Cesar. And for reasons best known to Nat Geo Wild, they've put up about 70 full episodes of The Dog Whisperer television show on YouTube, and so, we've lost many hours to that enterprise.
Our puppy guru is so influential that we've realised we need to calm down lest we ignore one of his central tenets. We need to listen to the dog. Instead of insisting on what is the 'right way', we need to read our dog's body language and demeanour to determine when they're feeling overwhelmed, anxious or wary. This will perhaps be our biggest potential down fall. To stop analysis, reading, and researching, and just be in the moment with the dog and let be.
Our spiritual teacher arrives on Thursday.