When rules are ignored…

I really don’t want this topic to become a theme for 2012. I thought we’d covered it enough in 2011.

Why do some people think that rules apply to other people and not to them?

Yes, we’ve seen CyclistsParking, Seatbelts, Cellphones, Whaleways – and now it’s dog owners. You only have to go walking in Tokai Forest  or the Green Belt or Newlands or (what’s left of) Cecilia Forest to see the contempt that the dog owners of Southern Suburbs have for rules on cleaning up after their animals. Putting it concisely, there’s shit everywhere. (Sorry Mum).

The recent case of the 2-year old girl attacked by a rottweiler on Clifton Beach earlier this week was both saddening and confusing, given that there is a ban on dogs on that beach at the time she was attacked. But if this report on iAfrica is to be believed, that rule apparently didn’t apply to dog owner James Lech and that’s why Meeka Riley spent four hours in an operating theatre yesterday.

Of course, there are other issues here as well – but the fact that the dog (one of three) was unleashed and the fact that even though Mr Lech is apparently regarded as one of the best known animal behavioural “specialists” in the country (more of that below) not withstanding, the little girl would not have been attacked by the dog if its owner hadn’t been ignoring the “no dogs” rule.

And now Mr Lech – the self-appointed “Dog Shaman” who, according to his website:

…is able to understand the communicate the information between the animal dog world and the human world. This understanding helps heal both psychological and physical problems in both dogs and humans.

Riiight. Sad then that this modern day Dr Doolittle seemingly couldn’t communicate the word “stop” to his dog.

But look, if you search deeply enough between the adverts for healing crystals and the like, you’ll learn that:

the methods he uses and abilities are proven through hard science and fact.

Neither of which he actually eludes to, but I’m sure he just ran out of time when writing it up. I’m sure those links to a whole host of peer-reviewed journals, demonstrating the proven powers of canine shamanism are just around the corner. Although, I’m told that he is a little busy right now.

Incidentally, James’ blog also includes a video on “How to walk 16 dogs… or just one” and news of a (now rather dangerous sounding) “Pack Walk” this weekend. However, if you want to go on the walk and “witness the power of the pack” *gulp*, the cost is R120 per person and before you… er… walk your dog, it must have passed a “physical exam” at the Gooddog Psychology & Physical Rehabilitation Clinic.

The physical exam involves a 30 min walk on the treadmill. The cost of this physical examination is R280.

Which is fair enough, because if you’re going to walk your dog, you need an “expert” to make sure your dog can walk. Kerching!

It sounds to me as if most of the stuff printed on James’ website could do with being scooped up, placed in a small plastic bag and deposited in a handily placed bin.

More on this story as it develops.

UPDATE: Of course, I should have mentioned that Lech and his Rottie have previous form.
(Thanks Jeremy)

UPDATE 2: Apparently, the main man in the whole international dog whispering thing is an American called Cesar Millan. I learnt this because I saw a photo of James Lech and Mr Millan while I was researching this. In fact, Cesar Millan is mentioned no fewer than 16 times on Lech’s blog, e.g.

I sometimes get criticisms from dog trainers and animal behaviorists that like to mis-diagnose and state that what I and Cesar Millan do is domination theory or negative to the dog and that we don’t believe in “reward” theory.

Of course, if you pop onto Cesar’s site, you can find James Lech’s names as well – right under the heading:

The Following Sites, Products, Individuals, and events are NOT Affiliated with Cesar Millan, Inc. or Dog Whisperer

Where we are also asked to note that:

Please be aware that Cesar takes photographs with many of his fans at seminars and elsewhere. A photograph does not confirm that the trainer has worked with Cesar.


 If you are a trainer posting a photograph taken with Cesar at a seminar or a similar event on your website, we ask that you post a disclaimer clearly stating that you have no official affiliation with Cesar Millan or the Dog Whisperer program.

Not the recent evidence suggests in any way that James Lech is a fraud, but I couldn’t find that disclaimer anywhere on James’ site, but perhaps I was sidetracked by the irony that James’ dogs are fed a vegan diet.

You are welcome to make your own vegan dog food, but I would rather recommend purchasing a pre-made mixture from us…


So no meat at all. Except on the beach on Wednesday, of course.