the TAO of CHANGE

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Know Animals. Know Nature. Know Life. CESAR’S WAY

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

Since my experience in Minneapolis with Curtis, the dog trainer, I’ve re-read Cesar Millan’s (aka The Dog Whisperer) book, Cesar’s Way. I had just rescued my latest dog when I first read it a few years ago and was intent on soaking up advice about training and leading a dog that had become, by human definition,  ‘dysfunctional’.  So, I didn’t take in the REAL message that filters throughout the book – the one that emphasizes the fact that it is we humans who have become dysfunctional through our disconnect with the natural world and that we have a lot to learn from our animal companions.

Without apology, Cear insists that the most content dogs are those that belong to the homeless people he sees in L.A.. Those who act as both leader and companion to their dogs and give them a way of life most natural to them. On a regular and consistent basis, they get “Exercise, Discipline and Affection”, in that order (which also sounds like a good prescription for the rest of us, doesn’t it?). He continues to explain by saying that “most of the difficulties and instabilities domestic dogs suffer arise from their being in unnatural situations, living with us behind walls” and becoming humanized for our own unconscious needs.” That is, “We project our own images on to them in order to make ourselves feel better. In doing so, not only do we harm to those animals, but we also distance ourselves even further from the natural world in which they exist.”

As we are all beginning to realize, our ever more convenient and techy world leads us to “kill off that better, more natural side of ourselves”, leaving us with lots of stuff, but also a growing longing for fulfillment. In The Dog Whisperer’s straight-up, calm and assertive way, he tells us, “That’s because, without some connection with Mother Nature, we feel isolated. Our world feels cold. We feel unbalanced. We die inside.”

Ouch. The truth can hurt.

Don’t worry, there’s good news. Cesar also tells us that we still have access to the very same world that our dogs inhabit. “No matter how much we ravage the earth, our animal nature yearns to be fulfilled” and he is certain that our dogs can be our lifelines to a part of ourselves that we are at the brink of losing altogether, for they have been put here to teach us.

Since finishing the book, I have been repeating two phrases as mantra several times each day – “Exercise, Discipline, Affection” and, “I am Calm and Assertive”.

It’s not only my dogs that feel better.

2 Responses to “Know Animals. Know Nature. Know Life. CESAR’S WAY”

  1. Alison Wiley, Portland Oregon Says:

    Good post! I believe what Cesar and you are saying is true.

  2. Marie Says:

    I just got a puppy and have eaten up Cesar’s books too. Although I understand calm and assertive, I’m not sure I’m doing it. I love the idea of making exercise, discipline, and affection the mantra for people too.

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