Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spotlight: The Dog Whisperer

Chatting over breakfast at the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham recently with Cesar Millan, acclaimed dog trainer and star of the National Geographic Channel's Emmy-nominated "Dog Whisperer," something unexpected is becoming quite clear: The guy is a major shopper.

He's wearing a pretty blue cashmere sweater and a new Louis Vuitton scarf and a new and very cute camel-colored Burberry toggle coat he bought on sale for $400 during a trip to Philadelphia because it was such a good deal. He looks at a reporter's shoes and tells her that his wife has a similar pair -- only hers are Prada -- and that he picks out most of his wife's clothes because she isn't such a good shopper. But we digress.

Millan, 38, is in town on this snowy day because, as a popular player on the speaker circuit, he's signed on to give a motivational speech to the Ad Craft Club of Detroit. While he's here, he's agreed to chat with us about whatever we want, including whether he, in deference to his pack of dogs, abstains from eating hot dogs. Puzzled by our question, he says: "They don't know we call them hot dogs."

As founder of the Dog Psychology Center, a rehabilitation facility in south central Los Angeles for troubled dogs, Millan is famous for turning the most problematic pooch into a good citizen -- which means one who doesn't bite or pull at the leash or misbehave. Dogs, he says, are pack animals who need a pack leader. Once an owner decides to be leader of the pack, the dog will become what Millan calls "calm-submissive" and well-behaved.

Hey, I like this guy. He helps a lot of people learn to live amicably with their dogs and that's a good thing. Also, if I were still into chewing stuff, a blue cashmere sweater sounds nice. It's probably soft and a little chewy. As for the hot dogs, we do know what they're called but we also know that they're not actually made from real dogs.

Woof! Woof!

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