The Dog Whisperer

My husband and I frequently watch National Geographic's Dog Whisperer, featuring Cesar Milan, a man short in stature but a giant in machismo when it comes to taming out-of-control and aggressive dogs. Pit bulls are his favorite. His formula is simply to "be the leader of your dog's pack," and he offers a full menu of methods in which to do just that.

Since my husband is out of town on business, the task of walking our 110lb. German Shepherd falls to me. Rex is the epitome of all things German Shepherd. He looks like Rin Tin Tin, is faithful, protective, and very, very prey-driven. Which means he'll chase a tennis ball or any small furry animal over eating prime rib.

"I am the dog whisperer", I tell myself. Cesar walks with shoulders back, chest out, head up high. Total confidence. So I arrange the choke up high on Rex's neck as Cesar instructs and out the door we go. No problem. He heels perfectly.

Wanting to test out the effectiveness of Cesar's rules, I decide to take Rex by a house known for it's uncivilized and aggressive dogs. Four of them. Thankfully there is a chain-link fence running the perimeter of their property, without which no man, woman or child would be safe. True to form, they come out snarling and foaming at the mouth, literally throwing themselves at the fence as we walk by. Rex could easily have pulled my shoulder out of its socket had I not been holding his leash correctly. I should also mention that we passed by their house from the other side of the street.

We survived that, although I'm out of breath and sweating profusely from the exertion of holding him at bay. We walk on. Rex did not behave perfectly according to Cesar's standards, but nonetheless I am feeling very dog whisperish.

Until. the. squirrel. Suddenly Rex is on high alert, and I'm looking around frantically to see why. The little guy is sitting 20 yards away in the street eating a piece of orange completely unaware of Rex. Before I could properly control him, Rex is rearing up like a stallion (which makes him taller than I am) and wanting with every fiber of his being to take up the chase. "It's what I'm made for! It's my right as a dog!" he telegraphs to me.

So much for the dog whisperer. Obviously this is not for amateurs. I put Rex on a "sit" command, standing with my back to the squirrel and facing Rex, a' la Cesar. He sits. Then I do a "down" which he slightly did before getting up and trying to chase the furry little thing. Here we are in the street (neighborhood residential - no cars) with me trying to control a huge dog whose sole objective at that moment was to taste rodent meat; he sits, he's down, he's rearing up, he's straining at the leash. Did I mention he's 110 pounds of muscle?

This little circus went on for about five long minutes, until the squirrel decided to scamper away and up a tree. I must have burned about 300 calories. It was quite an exercise. I think the squirrel really enjoyed the show we put on for him.

Posted by Mutti at October 2, 2006 12:23 PM | TrackBack