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Inner Vision: The Human Whisperer

Inner Vision: The Human Whisperer

For when it comes to our animals, we feel a need to protect, to nurture, to give of ourselves. For when it comes to human-human relationships, we demand perfection. Write Lisa B. Valentino contemplates the need for a Cesar Millan for humans.

"We've got to do the work," the woman says seriously, while her mate shakes his head. "We just have to follow through," he concurs. Smiles slowly inch across their faces as they look at each other and recognize the epiphany. Hope is in sight and all will be well.

You might think it was a couples' counseling session, until the camera pans to the other voice in the room. The voice is that of Cesar Millan, the diminutive doggie dynamo who preaches and teaches the art of Zen to desperate families with out-of-control canines. I'm not kidding. The show is called "Dog Whisperer," and it's absolutely fascinating.

Many of these pets have been abandoned or treated cruelly by past owners, or have other backgrounds that cause them to be fearful and mistrusting. Poor babies. Who can blame them for acting out with barks and bites, jealousy and aggressiveness? And, who can blame their owners for wanting to help? But, in their rush to treat their pooches like people, the people contribute to the problem. So, the people listen with open ears and open hearts as Cesar retrains both dog and master to live together more harmoniously through understanding one another.

Imagine that: Harmony through understanding. Patience through compassion. Allowing for others' "misbehaviors" without judgment. With our pets, perhaps.

For when it comes to our animals, we feel a need to protect, to nurture, to give of ourselves. We offer them warmth and shelter. We buy them the high-priced fancy food that helps keep our economy going. We give them free reign of our homes and our affections, and shower them with special gifts for their birthdays. We constantly give them love and attention, no matter how many pee stains on the carpet or how many chewed-on Prada shoes.

But, the choke-chain we use on each other it seems is far more restrictive than any we could possibly design for an animal.

For when it comes to human-human relationships, we demand perfection.  We expect pretty much everyone we come into contact with to behave the way we want them to.  No pee stains accepted. No wire hangers. Ever. There is nary a bit of understanding about others' experiences or what might cause them to behave in a certain way.

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Perhaps they, too, were treated cruelly by past captors, or perhaps they were never socialized correctly. Maybe all they need is a gentle nudge in the right direction, or someone to pet them with a little kindness. Too bad.  We're so busy judging them for their misbehaviors that we couldn't possibly have time to think about that.

If we do take the time, however, here's what we might see. Perhaps one of the reasons we often withhold love and compassion from others is because we have such a hard time being loving and compassionate with ourselves. We hold ourselves to unrealistic standards and goals, and then denounce ourselves as failures if we don't achieve them in the exact right way at the exact right time. We don't cut ourselves any slack - so why should we cut any for anyone else?  Maybe we're the ones who've been kicked too many times - and we're the ones acting out.

It may also be easier to love dogs, in a sense, for their needs are very basic and they ask little in return for their unbound loyalty and love. We like that. Love without the work. And you're right, love should not be work. But - as you've no doubt discovered - us humans are a bit more complicated than our canine counterparts and our psyches require much more care and feeding and attention. That's where the effort comes in. Just as we do with out beloved four-legged friends, we have to make the time to understand each other. 

So let's start the New Year right and just treat each other like dogs, shall we? You heard it here first. I wouldn't recommend you sniff anyone's crotch, unless invited. But, next time you're lamenting someone else's misbehavior that drives you insane, take the time to rub her belly or pat her on the head. Perk up you ears and actually listen to the answer when you ask someone how they are. And be as good a friend to yourself as you would to any of your pets.

Sometimes enlightenment is so easy to see that we miss it.

Looking Forward,

Lisa V.


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Lisa B. Valentino