Contact Kathryn at:

Kathryn Spira

National Geographic Channel’s Dog Whisperer and Dogtown

I never had a dog growing up. I think this is mainly due to the fact my mom wasn’t a dog person and had three little kids to take care of.

As I have told you before, Herman and I have an absolutely wonderful Dalmatian named Moxie who is now almost 14. We’ve had her almost 12 years and although she is a pedigreed Dalmatian with papers, she was a rescue dog due to mistreatment from a former owner.

Moxie is part of the reason I am so fascinated by two shows on the National Geographic TV cable station about dogs.

One is called “The Dog Whisperer” with Cesar Milan and the other is called “Dogtown” about a dog rescue operation.

In “The Dog Whisperer,” Cesar Milan states in the beginning of the show, “I rehabilitate dogs. I train people. No dog is too great a challenge.”

Milan is almost sage-like in his ability to control unruly dogs.

On “Dogtown,” a group of veterinaries, trainers and volunteers try to place dogs with health and behavior problems in homes. Unlike Milan’s show, their stories aren’t always successful. Although, to be fair, Milan does show how difficult it can be to rehabilitate a dog.

I just read in this week’s issue of “People” that Milan’s dog Daddy, aged 16 pitbull sadly passed away February 19. It was with Daddy that Milan would often show other pet owners and their unruly pets how to be calm and balanced.

One thing Milan would do with problem dogs at his “Dog Psychology Center” where he kept his pack of about 20 dogs, is to show the problem dog the right way for dogs to interact. Daddy was a key element in this process, with his calm and submissive energy.

In recent months Milan has introduced Junior, who will take Daddy’s place and carry on the dog-side of training through setting an example for proper social behavior between dogs and with owners and people the dogs encounter.

In comparison, the “Dogtown” crew take more of a team approach to overcome problems dogs display. There is much more interaction with veterinarians, trainers and potential dog owners.

According to the Dogtown volunteers and professionals, many of the dogs they highlight might be put down if it weren’t for their intervention.

I’m really drawn to both these shows and even if you aren’t a dog person as such, I would definitely recommend them both to you. For me, it brings a sense of peace, harmony and satisfaction with my own pets.


About Kathryn Spira

Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland, OH who pursued an acting career in NYC and Los Angeles, now pursues freelance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County, New York. Previous columns may be accessed at her web site