The Dalai Lama and The Dog Whisperer


My best friend Sheila and I really wanted to see the Dalai Lama when he visited Middlebury last weekend. He had come to Middlebury shortly before we started school there in the late eighties and right after we graduated in 1990, so this was supposed to be our time. Unfortunately, we could not get tickets even though I woke up a 6:00 a.m. on the day of the sale, while I was ill with a horrible head cold mind you, and tried for over an hour and a half. There was so much traffic that Middlebury's server kept crashing and although I managed to secure tickets in my cart twice, I was never able to make it all the way through checkout, so I finally gave up and went back to bed. But, I was disappointed and frustrated.

I tried to find tickets to see him elsewhere, but the pricetag on these was too hefty, so I decided to console myself by purchasing tickets to a guru of another sort. The Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan, who was coming to Vermont for an event to benefit his foundation and a local humane society. Tickets prices were not cheap, but they were tiered -- you could spend extra to meet Cesar up close and attend a reception or general admission; thus, you could be a Top Dog or a Pack Member. I decided on the cheaper option and thus, with Sheila in tow, we attended as members of the pack.

The event took place tonight and it was a blast. I do not follow Cesar's show religiously -- not really sure if I buy into the alpha dog thing and the funny noise Cesar makes to dominate and train the dogs-- but I loved his program tonight. He was hysterical, acting out canine, feline and human behavior in an effort to show us our problems in communicating with our dogs. "We are all eyes, ears and no, nos" "They are all nose, ears and eyes," he explained.

He emphasized that dog's pick up on our energy, something I have learned from taking Alfie into the showring and when he took two shelter dogs on stage to demonstrate his technique I started to see some of the things I have been doing wrong with Alfie, who by the way, has learned how to dig in her heels and slip off her harness regularly as she did at the Shelburne Gone to the Dogs day.

When Cesar arrived on stage the girls behind us screamed as they would for a  rockstar. They did it again when a dog named Dave came on stage. I learned from eavesdropping that the girls were Vet Tech students at Vermont Technical College and Dave was one of the dogs with whom they frequently worked.

"I love how this is a substitute for seeing the Dalai Lama," Sheila joked when I expressed my appreciation for her coming, but  in reality there were some similarities. The girls acted like Cesar's appearance might be on par with the return of the Messiah, after all. And, while the Dalai Lama spoke of our commonalities and the Dog Whisperer spoke of human and canine differences, both emphasized communication and education and offered messages of hope and the prospect of peace and harmony.

Driving home with my best friend discussing our work, her child, my dogs, and laughing so hysterically that I had to say between snorts and gasps for oxygen that someday our laughter would be the death of me, I had to believe I had achieved a form of Nirvana -- a life spent among good friends and good dogs may be as perfect as it gets.