Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Of Dogs and Men: Cesar Millan

Through a series of interesting incidents, I have come to know about Cesar Millan and to appreciate his work with dogs. Here is an interesting paragraph from his book, ``How to Raise the Perfect Dog Through Puppyhood and Beyond.''
As humans we are very attached to the process of mourning, even if that means grieving a being we haven't met yet. … For dogs it's all about the greater good, the survival of the whole litter, and, in the bigger picture, the survival of the pack. A mother with a dead or sick puppy may make an attempt to revive it, but she will never linger to mourn. … Mother dogs do not ``coddle' their young. In fact, if one of the pups in her pack has trouble finding a place to feed, she will help him only up to a point. If he can't keep up with the rest of the litter, she may even let her die. When it comes to raising puppies, we humans have to remember that this calm-assertive pragmatism is the natural state of mind of their very first pack leader---their mother. … keep in mind that puppies naturally respond to this matter of fact way of being in their world. Their feelings will not be hurt when you set the kind of firm rules their mother will set. In fact, they are just waiting for those rules, so they can be assured of secure, balanced futures. --- pp. 73-74, How to Raise the Perfect Dog
I find Cesar's practical wisdom about dogs fascinating. Watching how this man works with dogs has a calming and balancing effect on me. But more than that, I have a strong intuition that a lot of his wisdom helps me in dealing with my emotional self (which might be a combination of a dog and an ox, lol).
Let's read another quote which applies to puppies between one and two months old, as they start exploring the world and are very curious:
Says Diana Foster of her German Shepherd pups,
At this point, they don't need the mother for survival anymore, but we like to keep them with her as long as possible, because of the natural way she disciplines them. For instance, she tells them not to touch her bone or stops them if they start getting too rough with her. Her correction is quick. The puppy may yelp and run away with his tail tucked. And what does the average person do? Pick them up. ``Oh, you poor thing. Come here!'' Everyone wants to rescue them and feel sorry for them when anything new happen. What they're doing is reinforcing the fact that something bad just happened. But in their world, what happened wasn't bad! It was just a learning experience. Their real mother couldn't care less. She allows the puppy to work out the situation on his own. … He may run away whimpering, but after just a couple of seconds he's back playing with his friends.  ...
--- pp. 86-87, How to Raise the Perfect Dog
I had already discovered part of the lesson from the above passage. We tend to assume, at a deep level, a weakness in ourselves and people around us when we overprotect them.
Finally, at around two months of age,
… a puppy usually hits a phase where he goes from being outgoing and recklessly curious to becoming extremely cautious again. … The best breeders take special care at this age not to overprotect their puppies but instead help them to develop real self-confidence on their own. …
This cautious period can sometimes coincide with the time a breeder releases a puppy yo his new home. New owners often interpret a puppy's understandable reticence as something that must instantly be comforted. When they don't permit him the honor of overcoming his own insecurities in his own way, they can actually undo some of the meticulous hard work that his natural mother and his breeder have put into his education up to this point. … To prevent a puppy from developing fear or anxiety issues, owner shouldn't interfere with the nature of the learning process which includes feeling uncomfortable and also making mistakes. --- pp. 87-88, How to Raise the Perfect Dog
Let's finish on a totally different note. A very dark passage from the bullfighting novel I am reading:
Who was it that said success wasn't enough, that finally a man requires the disasters of his closest friends in order to make himself feel truly happy? Some goddamn writer, he said, answering his own question. And did that apply even when a man being set upon from all sides? Even when he was fighting to survive? It probably did, for how else could a man join in the general inhumanity of the entire race. That's enough cheap philosophy, he warned himself, and straightened in his seat. ---p. 102, Love Lies Bleeding
PS-1. And … I found this today. The man tried to kill himself a year ago:
Bitten by tragedy, Cesar Millan returns wiser

PS-2. Cesar has his own fierce opponent, many of them disgruntled dog trainers/veterinarians and human right activists, lol

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