“Everything takes practice,” says Cesar Millan. “To make a dog unstable takes practice.” At the moment, he’s standing in Liverpool, looking over the situation in a home belonging to a Dalmatian named Cooper and his two humans, Melanie and her mother, but if you’ve ever seen a Dog Whisperer, you see already that the new location doesn’t change the series’ basic idea: people need to learn how to behave with their dogs.
The show’s final season begins on 7 July, bringing Cesar’s Way to the UK. “Every country needs a strong pack leader,” asserts the ever calm Cesar, “Starting with you.”
The new episodes, beginning with “Horrible Hounds of the UK” and “London Calling!”, are much like those set in the US (or Australia), in that Cesar helps to repair a household: it may be the dog at its center is tense or uncertain, aggressive or fearful, but in every case, the humans find themselves unable to read or respond to signs that Cesar interprets pretty much immediately. The people are invariably surprised to hear themselves read so accurately.
He visits with professional actor sisters Matilda and Harriet Thorpe (stunt casting on Dog Whisperer always seems unnecessary, deflecting attention from dogs who are more interesting than their celebrity owners), who own German shepherd littermates Bruno and Diesel (“It’s a sister thing,” Harriet explains) and notes instantly the tension Matilda shows when describing walks. “The beauty of dog,” he declares, is forgiveness.” They’re always ready to start again. Or again, “I have to be a spokesperson for the dog,” Cesar remarks, before pointing out how anxious Nick makes his English Cocker Spaniel, Paddy, by dropping him backwards into a car.
The questions and the answers seem so evident when you watch Dog Whisperer. Over the years, with help from Daddy and Junior and Will and Jada Smith’s dog Luigi, Cesar Millan has provided the most consistently entertaining, entrancing, and reassuring show on TV. We’ll miss it when it’s over.
// Notes from the Road
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