Sunday, June 07, 2009

Bookmarks--Cesar's Way

Before I get to why I recommend Cesar’s Way, let me get out of the way a couple things that bothered me about it. First, it didn’t take long for me to get tired of all the name dropping. I didn’t care much when Cesar Millan was talking about his work with Oprah’s or Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s dogs the first time. Doing so over and over about made me crazy.

Second, it seems that Millan didn’t know what kind of book he wanted to write. A friend recommended the book to me to help me with my own dog. There are parts that are certainly “self-help” or instructional. But parts of the book are memoir. These sections are interesting in their own right, but a few shorter stories to illustrate his points (without the aforementioned narratives about animals belonging to celebrities) would have been more effective I believe. When Millan wants to write a real memoir, I might read that too.

But as I made my way through this book, I did find I looked at my own relationship with my dog differently, and I suspect this is the main purpose of Cesar’s Way. I could see not only why it is important to walk a dog every day, but how to do so. I did gather insight into the behavior of my pet (and some people). Cleo (our dog) doesn’t get walked for an hour a day, as Millan suggests, but she gets a lot more than she did before, and I like being around her much more.

Readers might also find interesting what Cesar Millan has to say about “bad” dogs. I was particularly encouraged that habits that make some dogs seem mean or just plain stupid could be changed with the right attention and work.

Since reading Cesar’s Way months ago, I have also noticed how woefully ignorant most people are about the animals they make blithe commitments to. People who grew up around dogs, like me, often make some rather damaging assumptions that are addressed in this book. Don’t get me wrong. Millan (with help from Melissa Jo Peltier) writes about the obligation sometimes as if it is marriage, as if most of one’s waking hours should be devoted to the animal. That’s a bit strong for me. However, he has convinced me that dogs one takes into one’s home should play a greater role than barking at strangers and languishing in the backyard until the owner feels like playing. And if readers use half of what Millan suggests, they will find themselves in the midst of a very rewarding relationship.

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