Appellate Judge James A. Stewart is...The DVD Whisperer.
"When a dog is balanced, you are going to enjoy a true friend. I rehabilitate dogs; I train owners. I am…the Dog Whisperer."
Cesar Millan's moniker is a little bit odd, because if you know anything about dogs, you know they seldom whisper. The dog psychologist has made a career of making himself pack leader and calming excited dogs with his energy. Since he's been doing this on the National Geographic Channel (not available on my cable system), this was something I'd vaguely heard of but never seen in practice. Until now. This past week, I've been immersed in the world of…The Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan.
Facts of the Case
The Dog Whisperer: Season 4, Volume 1 has eighteen episodes, including a bonus episode, on five discs:
The hundredth episode centers around a get-together for dogs and people Cesar has helped. Guests include celebrities Virginia Madsen, Patti LaBelle, Kathy Griffin, and Daisy Fuentes. This includes updates on the dogs and their people. There's also a bit with a crew member, who talks about re-creating the dogs' bad behavior for the camera.
Two bonus segments not seen on TV are also included. "Risky Business" finds Bubba, an English bulldog, and Lucky, a chocolate labrador, at odds as their people run a business together. "The Monster of Manhattan" finds fitness model Kim Strother dealing with Moose, a Yorkshire terrier with a barking problem. I'm not sure why "Risky Business" didn't make the show, but "Monster" is just too easily resolved, even if Cesar does get to walk a dog pack in Manhattan.
A blooper reel rounds out the extras package, featuring Cesar acting goofy and the crew getting in the way of shots. All told, there's around half an hour of fresh material.
"Do not attempt the techniques you are about to see without consulting a professional," the message on the screen at the beginning of each episode warns. Let's face it: even most animal professionals don't have the calming energy of Cesar Millan. This guy is mellow. He's not a pushover—he does try to get dogs into "submission"—but their barking, biting, and other misbehavior doesn't seem to ruffle him. With each case he observes the dogs in troublesome situations, talks to their people, comes up with a plan of action, and sets out to change the dog's behavior, often along with that of the dogs' people.
I didn't know dogs liked treadmills, until I watched a few episodes of The Dog Whisperer. Getting the dog on a treadmill is one of Cesar's favorite techniques. He's also fond of walking dogs while rollerblading, which might scare off the less-fit dog owners in his audience, and acupuncture to raise endorphins. The most interesting technique, though, is letting other dogs, especially his pit bull Daddy, socialize the wayward woofers. Tough cases get inpatient treatment at his Dog Psychology Center. These dogs turn up in other dogs' stories as they become part of the pack. I've also noticed that Cesar adopts the occasional dog that can't fit in, keeping up the effort. Fortunately for all concerned, including Cesar, his failure rate appears low.
The series is done well. The producers seem to have an innate sense of which stories will strike a chord with viewers, and will devote a little more time to those cases. One canine, Gavin, the ATF dog, gets an episode to himself, and it's probably the best in the set. Close behind is the episode featuring Curly and Baxter, two of Cesar's toughest cases.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
This set features two "special episodes," one of life-changing stories and another celebrating the show's hundredth episode. These episodes aren't bad, but they're less interesting if you're not a regular viewer. If you're intrigued but haven't seen The Dog Whisperer before, you might look for a less-special box set.
After a while, The Dog Whisperer gets repetitive, so it doesn't lend itself to powerwatching.
While you're likely to find The Dog Whisperer relaxing and entertaining, it's also an informative show. Cesar Millan knows his stuff, and he's good at explaining the inner workings of the canine mind to viewers as well as the dog owners he meets.
The Dog Whisperer isn't strictly for dog owners, but you probably won't be interested unless you're the sort who'd want to adopt (at least) one dog from every episode, no matter what their problems are. I'll have to admit that I'm such a person. If you are, too, you'll probably like The Dog Whisperer.
Not guilty. Maybe Cesar could get a dog to whisper.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Screen Media Films
• 100th Episode
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