Jonathan Storm: Loud and clear
TV's Dog Whisperer works his magic with wayward pooches.
Obviously more sensible than her dizzy sister, Jessica, who didn't know if Chicken of the Sea was tuna or poultry, Ashlee Simpson-Wentz called in expert help when she had animal confusion.
Hemingway, the beloved bulldog belonging to Ashlee's husband, bassist Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy, seemed awfully aggressive, and the couple's baby was on the way. Sounded like a job for
The Dog Whisperer
The work, televised on National Geographic Channel tomorrow night at 8, was no biggie for Cesar Millan; he fixed things up in an afternoon. Hemingway just snarled and barked and jumped at other dogs. A truly aggressive bulldog would try to rip them apart, he explained to the popsters.
"Eeek," said Ashlee, then 23, looking huge and adorable two months before having the baby. Not a good reaction. Everybody who knows the Whisperer knows that "calm-assertive" is the way to get through life, and keep your dogs and babies happy. He explained that to the couple and, for the millionth time, to the audience, before helping Hemingway, perfectly passive and submissive, train on the treadmill, in the Simpson-Wentz basement.
Who needs funky old sidewalks and dog trails when you make millions getting the kids to scream with the cock of an eyebrow or a lip-synching pout?
The encounter is part of the launch of "Dog Whisperer Week" on the National Geographic Channel, which will display Cesar's exploits wall-to-wall in prime time from Monday through Jan. 2.
That's probably too much for anybody, even my dog, Woody, who loves the show. Gentle as a lamb, he growls and barks at the bad seeds on the TV, but he, too, could tell there was nothing wrong with Hemingway.
Things were different, though, as he watched the first half of Sunday's show. Woody didn't like Cricket, though the British white retriever looked much cuter than the English bulldog to these untrained human eyes.
But Cesar, 25 percent human and 75 percent canine, knew Cricket was trouble, too. He took the dog to his Los Angeles headquarters, where Cricket spent six weeks learning good manners from Cesar's pack of mutts, and the Whisperer himself, before returning home.
During Whisperer Week, there are a couple of new episodes, Monday and Friday at 8 p.m. A "special encore" on Monday at 9 features
Marley & Me
author John Grogan, who'd still be writing columns at The Inquirer if the Dog Whisperer had dropped by back in the early '90s and rid the dog, and his owner, of their behavior deficits.
"I rehabilitate dogs," Cesar chants. "I train owners."
The training, apparently, didn't take completely with Ashlee. Not purged of the Simpson family loopiness, she named her little boy Bronx Mowgli Wentz when he was born on Nov. 20.
But thanks to the Dog Whisperer, Bronx and Hemingway are destined to spend many golden afternoons calmly and contentedly playing on the treadmill.