I have finally succumbed to the cold my son kindly brought back from his trip to Canada, and it’s a shocker. Last night, feeling suitably sorry for myself, I wrapped myself in a duvet and searched for ‘comfort TV’. I found it in an old favourite, a re-run of ‘The Dog Whisperer’. The plot is simple: horrendous dog with owners who have humanised their darling pet are taught the power of ‘calm, assertive energy’ by Cesar Milan and his unfeasibly white teeth. I have had two dogs in my life, both golden retrievers, and would love a third. However, now is not the right time to make a possible 15-year commitment. So the programme enables me to get my dog ‘fix’ and marvel at Mr Milan’s dental work.
Last night’s episode featured the owners of Marley, of the book ‘Marley and Me’ fame. I haven’t read the story, as I’ve always suspected it would reduce me to a blubbering heap by the third paragraph. Since Marley’s passing, the owners have taken on a new canine companion, whose behaviour is proving every bit as challenging as Marley’s. Eating the household’s pet chickens was a low point in the new dog’s relationship with its owners.
But along comes Cesar and his well trimmed beard, and within moments, has put a stop to all the shenanigans and restored peace to the family. The old calm, assertive energy routine works its magic every time. I love it. And I actually think that the formula works for humans too. Changing the energy which you bring to a difficult relationship, breaking old patterns of relating to the other person, wrongfoots them and instantly sets the scene for a different way of communicating. Of course, it’s quite a scary thing to do, but the results can be as impressive as calling a halt to chicken chewing forever.