6.08.2006

The Dog Whisperer

Just read the recent New Yorker piece on the embodied rhetoric of Cesar Millan, a.k.a. "The Dog Whisperer," and I have to admit to being as nutso about this guy as everyone else.


I say the piece is about embodied rhetoric because, unlike approaches to managing rascally dogs that focus either entirely on action (hold them down, rub their noses in it, go through the door before them, etc.) or syntax (Rascal sit, Rascal quiet, Rascal is a baaaad dog)—Millan's approach so clearly relies on and is being understood as consisting of embodied communication reliant on posture, movement, sound, action, contact, and a range of simple signifiers.

Just as Gladwell takes the article away from dogs for a moment to talk about human/child dynamics, I find myself thinking that paying attention to Millan in my teacher-prep classes could be valuable. His work connects to pedagogical questions about where and how participants stand and sit, classroom gestures, and the use of space—even if we ain't dogs.

But to my deviant dogs, I have this to say: Pssh pssh pssh.

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