Animal WhisperersWho are these people who to peer into the world of animals and understand. They fascinate us with their capacity to take an animal that is in some way out of control and return them to their natural state. We missed seeing John Solomon Rarey at work, the original horse whisperer because he lived in the mid-19th century before media could invade every space. But our current champions,Buck Brannaman as horse whisperer and Cesar Millan as dog whisperer, have exposed all those who are interested to the amazing recoveries animals can make when someone who truly understands their nature works with them.
Though Buck Brannaman’s work is no less impressive, I’m more familiar with Cesar Millan’s, so it is his accomplishments that crowd my mind as I write this blog. I have always loved horses and dogs and was blessed to have both in my life. My horse was my savior through that rotten time of life known as teenage years. But dogs were there most all my life, and it is to them that I owe an immense sense of gratitude.
At first, I knew them as friends that never betrayed me. But when Dali came along, whom you will meet in my new blog series, Northern Exposure Meets James Herriot, I encountered a canine the likes of which I’d never known. She opened my eyes to an entirely new dog-human relationship where we could be in each other’s worlds, not just she in mine. She was a working girl, a 120 lb. Komondor that kept us in the sheep business. But she was much more than that. She taught me about what it looks and feels like to be tuned into the universe, and since she could make room for me, I slowly came to realize what being present truly meant.
We humans appear to have been entrusted with a mind that is curiously self-aware, meaning we can know that we know. Though this unique attribute offers all manner of interesting possibilities,
at this point in human evolution it seems merely to have us most befuddled. Rather than being conscious creators of the miraculous, we are more often creating mental soap operas that have us live in our daydreams while calling them reality. We have the daunting capacity to think ourselves out of the moment. It’s somewhat like owning the fastest car in the world but being unable to locate the clutch. We can rev the engine, but we are not feeling the wind in our hair.
Here’s where Cesar Millan comes in. What he realized was that animals live in the present moment; they can’t think their way into fantasies. They can, however, be coerced into undesirable behaviors by humans who frustrate their instincts. I mean how would you bear up living with someone who continually insists their fantasy is reality? How would you like to live with a species which exists in only needs-based relationships? Welcome to their world. What Cesar has shown us all is that when someone arrives on the scene who is present, a dog, even one who has been out of line for years, can, within minutes, return to its true nature—can regain the moment. And we can too. Cesar Millan doesn’t just rescue dogs, he presents us over and over with what it looks like when a living being once again becomes present. We see first-hand that there was nothing to learn, and it takes very little time (except for bulldogs…). What we then need to realize is that that is true for us too.
The moral of this story, don’t ask your dog to live where you do, go live where he is. Don’t ask your dog to meet your needs, watch what it looks like to live beyond need – the naturalness, the playfulness, the selflessness of a dog.
In my world, there is no such thing as a lesser being. There is only life expressing in an infinite variety of forms. Our gift is we can learn from all of them. Their gift is they already know. The Aborigines say: we are creatures trying to learn to survive in infinity. That’s just our deal. But the beauty is that all around us are creatures who know how to do that. And that is why every evolved teaching aimed at us has instructed us to look to nature— to the animals, the plants, the birds and the bees—to see what it looks like, to see what we’re capable of experiencing but from the most magical state of being self-aware.
If you want to read a story that includes the magnificence of animals as part of its story, read Suffer the Little Children: “And anyone who loves animals will find Spook and Timber locked in their memory.”Patricia Vaughn, PhD.
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