Location: marengo, il, United States

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Whisper Me a Secret

Cesar Millan rings the doorbell and stands waiting, his head bowed, and with both hands resting firmly on his hips. His nice smile beams toward a young and bewildered couple when they first open their front door, and then they hastily usher him inside. Cesar is the dog whisperer, and he has arrived just in time.

“How can I help you folks today?”

The pair without delay introduce the man to their active and friendly beagle. The woman takes out a small flashlight, points it to the floor, and then the trio observe as the dog chases the circle around the room. A comical sight unfolds as the dog, in hot pursuit of the spot, slips and slides across a hardwood floor, scampering after the elusive light.

She then clicks the light off, and the three stand and discuss some issues this dog begins to demonstrate next. The small spotlight has vanished from the floor, but the animal continues to search and sniff, constantly on the move. Several minutes go by as several flashback scenes are played; the dog outside, franticly going after a nonexistent light on the ground; video recordings caught on tape of the hound on the hunt throughout the house, determined to find its prey. The flustered wife and her gentle husband, himself anxious too, appeal to Cesar.

“What can we do? Is there any hope of correcting this insane obsession he has?”

Cesar smiles and slips on a collar and a leash. The dog looks up happily and complies. Next, and with the pooch down at his left side, and the couple standing a few feet away, he motions to the lady to use her flashlight again. She aims it at the floor in front of their honored dog psychologist. The little spot of light begins to dance in erratic circles, and the dog sees and leaps forward suddenly.

In a split-second Cesar has the animal cured and under control.

Holding the leash comfortably taut, he gives a firm tug. The beagle immediately sits back down, and then looks up over his left shoulder. He rolls his big brown eyes and stares up at the woman’s husband, and the expression on his canine face seems to say, “Now what, boss?” The lady continues to shine the light here and there, but the dog has his mind made up, and refuses to look away from the man.

I watch this unfold, and then I turn off the television. And then I wonder, would Cesar come over and slip a collar on my kids and spend some time showing me just how to jerk on that leash and keep smiling like he does?


Blogger Ned said...

Well, I think the first lesson is, never do anything as sadistic as shining a light on the floor for the dog to chase in the first place. Anything that happens after that is just retribution for stupid human tricks.

On the other hand, shining a flashlight on the floor and getting the kids to spend all day looking for the elusive light sounds like a perfect way to keep them busy and entertained at the same time,leaving me free to pound the keyboard.

Excuse me, I have to go out to the hardware store now and buy a flashlight.

3:52 PM  
Blogger Harry said...

Pick me up some flea powder?

4:04 PM  
Blogger Gone Away said...

Not a valid test, I'm afraid. Only a beagle would be so stupid. It appears to me that they have carefully set up a hoax for you, Way. Ask them to repeat the test but this time with a Staffie...

4:25 PM  
Blogger Harry said...

I've been watching Cesar now for about a month. He appears on the National Geo channel here at around 2 AM, and from what I've seen, he has incredible insight into the small minds of bricks. And it seems that among every breed, there is a small percentage of misfits, made so by kind intentions of humans that want to slather the beasts with cuddly affections, and through their misguided efforts, create some pretty neurotic animals in the process.

4:50 PM  
Blogger Gone Away said...

I knew a German lady once who insisted that all the dogs in Germany had been driven completely neurotic by their owners...

7:29 PM  
Blogger glenniah said...

George Eliot said
"Animals are such agreeable friends, they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms".

But I wonder what they really think deep down. Do they talk about us to their doggy mates.
'I've really got my humans twisted around my little paw.'
'What is it they do when they sit and stare at that little box in the corner for hours?'
'From day one I have taught my humans how to feed me, where to walk me and dog house me in the manner to which I'm accustomed.
or 'listen to the poem I wrote about my humans.'
I never hurt my humans, but let them stroke and pat my head. They like to see me wag my tail, they like to see me fed.
btw I think Ned is on to something there with the kids and flashlight bit.

3:37 AM  
Blogger Hannah said...

The flashlight thing keeps 3 certain cats extremely entertained.

6:36 AM  
Blogger Harvey Young said...

I once owned a breagle mix. We spent nearly a year trying to house break the dog. The vet once told us that on the intelligence scale, beagles ranked only 4 places above the dumbest dog. I did not think to ask which one was the dumbest.

I hate to admit that I did use flashlights for years to keep my kids busy and entertained. Of course they still play with them so it is quite possible that I have scarred them for life.

7:49 AM  
Blogger Harry said...

Ned, our Cesar is officially presented as this dog whispering fellow, but I suspect he is a wise renegade who is more after the psychologically messed-up humans, by the grin on his puss. Every case that I’ve seen so far has shown the two-legs as the culprits needing collars plus more than a few a jerks, but he knows our breed won’t bite and we pay well, and we are prone to sue.

And Gone, I knew from an early age our Germanic breeds had long since went over the edge. Mom owned an obsessive-compulsive clock on which she bragged originated in the Black Forrest.

Glen, I like Eliot’s whimsy, but did not George have some gender issues of her own?

(I also found out there are at least four more like Cesar in his field, and one claims to be Aussie. “Psst. Oi! Crikey, you brick!”)
Hannah, cats require too much thought, and I have so little time, not to mention my lack of clues. I had one that would bat a crumpled cigarette pack around the kitchen floor for the longest time, and then go sit on the back of an easy chair, relaxed, un-winded and staring at me as if to say, “That was you I had down there, pal.”

Sometimes I wonder how they rank us, Harvey, considering George Eliot’s observations. And you realize that scars can be another word for terrific memories.

8:37 AM  
Blogger Gone Away said...

It's the basset, Harvey, the dumbest of them all. One of my sisters had two basset cross beagles and they mustered one IQ point between them, I think.

9:32 AM  
Blogger Harvey Young said...

I forgot to mention that these days I have a Rhodesian Ridge Back as my constant companion. My ever present friend is ten years old and he helps me to understand the life I am fast approaching. I don't know where this dog stands on the IQ pecking order, but he seems pretty smart to me, but keep in mind this is me talking.

Harry, you are right, my best scars are my greatest memories.

3:13 PM  
Blogger Gone Away said...

Well, well, well. For Rhodesian read Zimbabwean, Harvey, for they are the same country, only renamed in enthusiasm since independence. Of all the hounds, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is the brightest. That may not be saying anything, since hounds are the dumbest of dogs, but certainly the RR is very intelligent. They were bred to corner lions for hunters and are brave, astute and surprisingly nimble for their size. Since acceptance by the Kennel Club in Britain, they have been watered down somewhat, particularly in size (they were once nearly as big as the Great Dane), but their characteristic courage and devotion to their masters remains (and the unique ridge of fur on their backs survives too). You are a lucky man to own one, Harvey, for they are not common.

8:52 PM  
Blogger Gone Away said...

Please, someone, ask me about Kerry Blue Terriers. Go on, I dare you, ask me about Kerries. :D

8:56 PM  
Blogger Harry said...

What do I have to do; put up an electric fence? I've never seen so many bricks since Uncle Charlie organized his coon-hunt.

10:45 PM  

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