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Citizen Kanine and the power of whispering

by Tao Oliveto, Minneapolis, MN

It’s true. Those gifted animal people do really whisper – that is, when they actually say anything at all as they communicate to dogs that seem to hang on every sound, movement and expression of the human they see as alpha.

While in a Minneapolis coffee shop last week, I looked out the window at this site – a group of 12 dogs, all laying still on the sidewalk, calmly  watching the scene of bicycles, walkers, other dogs and cars buzz past, in some cases, right under their noses. As you could guess, I was out the door in a hurry. I found Curtis Johnson, the trainer, not by his proximity to the dogs (which wasn’t obvious), but by his quietly commanding presence as he sat at a table, enjoying coffee with a friend.

He amiably answered what I assumed were frequent questions from curious onlookers. No, they were not all his dogs, he was “working” – that is, they were in training. Yes, he had just finished walking all 12 (six to a side) four miles through the city and now their job was to complete a lengthy “down-stay”, as it’s called in the dog training world. As we continued to chat, a dog would start to get up, looking unconcerned but slightly restless. In true Dog Whisperer style, Curtis – known as Citizen Kanine – would simply give a soft ssssss sound or say a name, and the dog would slowly sink back to a down position.

Curtis patiently agreed to a group photo before I left. He walked over slowly,  and with some signal I couldn’t quite catch, gave the dogs permission to come to a seated position. They all stared at him in an intent but calm way. Do you see the brown dog on the far left? That dog was not part of his group – he just happened to be tied nearby – but he decided to “listen” in, anyway. I think I was a little mesmerized, too – the energy was contagious.

A nice experience. A nice reminder of the effectiveness of calm, focused energy. Thanks and Namaste, Curtis.

5 Responses to “Citizen Kanine and the power of whispering”

  1. Danielle Says:

    I absolutely love this post! Now if someone could just whisper to the world the same way, so we could all live a little more in harmony, just like these beautiful canines! Refreshing story! Thanks!

  2. laura floros Says:

    this gave me chills :) in a wonderful way. I was sitting right with those dogs, looking on….

  3. phyllisdiehl Says:

    what a sweet loving and moving story…….i am so glad that you wrote this doggy story. i don’t understand how a dog whisperer works. how interesting….thanks for writing this story.

  4. Marie Says:

    I’ve watched all the videos and read the books, but I still don’t quite get how to have that calm assertive energy. It says to have it before working with your dog, but doesn’t tell me how to get it. I try to put a mask over my restless passive energy, but the dogs sniff me out every time.

  5. tao Says:

    Ha Ha – sounds familiar. I guess dogs know when we’re “faking” it.
    You know what they say, however – “Fake it ’til you make it”!
    Keep trying and good luck,

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