Any episode of the "Dog Whisperer" carried a prominent warning not to attempt any of Millan's training methods on your own.
I work in advertising and marketing so Cesar Millan, the so-called Dog Whisperer, intrigued me. This dog trainer had best-selling books and a hit TV show on National Geographic cable channel, and he starred in a profile in the New Yorker by Malcolm Gladwell. A cartoon Cesar doppelganger even showed up on an episode of "South Park" training the obnoxious Cartman. Millan became an American idol and his only obvious talent was hissing at badly behaved dogs. I never was able to figure out what made him so popular, but now he seems to have vanished. Do you know what happened to Millan? -- Avery
A: Cesar Millan's mantra, about staying calm, cool and collected with your dog, came packaged with marketing machismo and a scary underhanded snap and hiss for any dog that didn't behave. Any episode of the "Dog Whisperer" carried a prominent warning not to attempt any of Millan's training methods on your own. This warning must have degraded the brand.
Yet, one Millan rule seemed abundantly sane: Walk the dog at least 90 minutes a day, although Millan encouraged the use of a treadmill if you couldn't spend a lot of precious hours walking the dog. The treadmill technique proved there were many holes in Millan's methods. At least, he got the exercise piece right.
In the past few years, Millan went through a very rough patch after his white-hot celebrity cooled. He got divorced and lost his favorite dog, his money and his TV show. Now, claiming to be a different cat, he has a new TV series, "Cesar 911," on the National Geographic WILD channel. He also travels the country giving lectures about dog behavior and training. His books and DVDs are available for sale on his site, www.cesarsway.com.
Dear Dog Lady,
I love dogs, but I find my affection for animals is being compromised. Last weekend I had a disturbing incident on the beach. While walking alone at the surf line, I was suddenly brought up short by the sight of a Bernese mountain dog hurtling toward me with its teeth bared. Luckily the dog was on a flexible leash and the owner pulled the animal back just a foot or so from me.
The owners proceeded to admonish the dog with coos and pet talk with no regard to me at all. Ultimately one of the owners gave me a nod and a "sorry, sir." Then, he went on his way, pointing a finger at the dog and scolding it.
I find the owners' indifference to me disgusting. How should I have handled this situation? Should I report this incident to the police? -- Lou
A: Scary. A Bernese mountain dog is basically an Alp in dog's clothing. The sight of a big Bernese galloping toward you, with incisors unsheathed, must not have been pretty. You had every right to expect abject apologies from the owners. No wonder you were outraged when they minimized the episode by clucking at their rascal.
You could have yelled at them, but that would have wasted energy. Clearly, these people weren't sensitive to the seriousness of the shoreline encounter. Reporting the incident to the police would be folly since there was neither physical injury nor flagrant flauting of the law. After all, they had their dog on a leash.
Basically, you handled things perfectly because you wrote "Ask Dog Lady" for finger-wagging justice.
Go to askdoglady.com. Read past columns, listen to Dog Lady on the radio and watch all episodes of "Ask Dog Lady," the TV show.