Wednesday, March 10, 2010

When Dog Bloggers Go Bad, Or Why Can't We Be Friends???

I posted a response to the following site that was highly critical of Cesar Millan, referring to both him and to Barbara Woodhouse (No Bad Dogs) as teaching others to train animals by abusing those animals. Here is the website:

Here is my response:

Jackie Cassada
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

I believe that you are doing yourself a disservice by labeling Cesar Millan (and Barbara Woodhouse, by the way) as abusive just because you have a different approach toward working with dogs to change their behavior. You speak as if Cesar were the only person in the field who is using the methods he uses that you object to, while in reality, there are many other dog trainers, dog rehabilitators, etc. who use similar methods.

Dog abusers raise dogs for the fighting pit — Cesar does not do this. Dog abusers murder dogs in ways that redefine the limits of cruelty — Cesar does not do this. Dog abusers maintain puppy mills — Cesar has cooperated with a number of groups to address the problem of puppy mills and has helped rescue dogs (mostly breeding dogs) from these hell holes. Dog abusers starve their dogs, deny them adequate water and shelter, spend little to no time with them — Cesar does not do this.

If you disagree with his use of physical touch (which is different from hitting or kicking), the alpha roll, verbal corrections, etc., then say that’s what you oppose. But don’t call it abuse, because it’s not. You are devaluing the term. Michael Vick abused his dogs — he murdered them by drowning, bashing their heads in, electrocuting them. That’s abuse!

Cesar does not criticize people who differ from him in their methodology. He says that all ways are good that do not harm the dog — and his ways do not harm the dog. Neither do yours. The fact that you denigrate him and charge him with abuse tells me that you respect only those people who agree with you, that you hate and fear those who believe differently from you. To my way of thinking, you should reconsider your own attitude toward people who are outside your comfort zone. You are liable to end up as a xenophobe who hates that which is “other.” I don’t think this is what you want.

Cesar bashing is “in” right now, and you have obviously joined that club. It is not one that speaks very highly of what you believe, however. I have many friends who are different from me — in race, religion, politics, cat person/dog person identity, etc. I respect their right to be different.

You speak of Millan’s and Woodhouse’s obvious love for animals, yet by saying they abused the animals they worked with, you are gainsaying your own comments. Please, if you are going to write about someone and criticize them, do so with clarity and sound reasoning — or else admit you are just out to get them.

To quote from “Living on the Edge,” a song by Aerosmith, who paraphrased the Yardbirds’ “Mister, You’re a Better Man”: “If you can tell a wise man by the color of his skin, then mister, you’re a better man than I…”

My respect and admiration for Cesar Millan, both for his methods and for his philosophy, has turned me into a passionate defender of him against the very vocal critics of his who apparently think nothing of calling him names in a public forum. Cesar, himself, has never, to my knowledge, commented adversely about those in his field who are opposed to his methods. His silence and refusal to be drawn into public feuds speaks volumes for his personal integrity.

His critics' eagerness to put him down, on the other hand, tells me that they can only win if someone else loses.

Give me a win/win scenario over a zero-sum solution anyday. Eve and the Cat Pack heartily agree!

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