the dog whisperer
I’ve written about The New Yorker before (here and here), and I have written about South Park before (here), but I never thought I would write about both in the same post. Well, thanks to Cesar Millan that has changed.
Cesar Millan is very much a man of the moment. Better known as “the dog whisperer,” Cesar stars in his own television show Friday nights on the National Geographic channel and runs the Dog Psychology Center. Cesar has also authored the top-selling advice book in the country (amazon) , has twelve DVDs for sale and was featured in the New York Times. Grabbing the attention of (at least) one cool thing, Cesar was recently profiled by Malcolm Gladwell in The New Yorker and immortalized by Trey and Matt on South Park.
Work has impacted my casual reading, so it was only last night that I picked up the May 22, 2006 issue of my favorite magazine and turned to “What the Dog Saw: Cesar Millan and the movements of mastery.” It’s a fascinating discussion of how dogs and people interact and the pack leader techniques Cesar uses to command the attention of our canine friends. Through his Center, Cesar provides dog “counseling” and behavior modification for desperate owners unable to control their pets.
A super trainer, Cesar is able to trace problem animal behavior to problematic owner behavior, and he works with his clients to correct the mixed signals that are confusing their pets. As always, Gladwell’s writing is crisp and insightful. The article is available unofficially here, but I encourage you to read this companion interview with Gladwell and Gladwell’s blog where he discusses some of the controversy surrounding Cesar’s techniques.
Not ones to miss big trends in popular culture, South Park devoted the May 3 episode to the dog whisper, and when I discovered this today I immediately downloaded “Tsst” from iTunes. (It is hard to beat the convenience and the $1.99 price.) Unfortunately, iTunes video is limited in resolution (320x240), but the prorgam looked pretty good full screen from a few feet away on my 17” LCD . More importantly, it is a great episode.
If you are a Cartman fan, and who among us isn’t, you will love that it is devoted entirely to Eric’s antics. Unable to control her son, Cartman’s mom finally seeks professional help in the form reality TV shows. First the nanny from Nanny 911, and then, when she fails, it is Super Nanny to the rescue. Cartman is strong though, so as a last resort enter the dog whisperer doing some of his best work. “Don’t reason with it, don’t argue with it, just dominate it.”
Bonus link 1: download this 2 minute clip of South Park “Tsst”
Bonus link 2: watch any of 35 clips from Cesar’s TV show