Thursday, July 23, 2009

Jack Byrnes or Bernie Focker: Which Dog Trainer Are You?

If you're not familiar, the two character names in the title come from the movie "Meet the Fockers," where a soon-to-be newlywed couple must endure the first meeting of their parents. Jack Byners, the bride's father, is and ex-CIA operative played by the great Bobby De Niro. Jack clearly subscribes to the authoritarian style of parenting, obviously a derivative of his career and training--strict, rigid, and often unforgiving and unapologetic.

In the movie Jack is balanced by the groom's father, Bernie Focker, who is played by another Hollywood great, Dustin Hoffman. Bernie is a lawyer turned Mr. Mom and is way more sensitive and nurturing than Jack. Always proud, encouraging, and in defense of his son. The conflict in parenting styles comes to a head during a scene where Bernie is showing Jack and the others a room he's created in dedication and in memoriam of his son's childhood and early achievements. Ribbons and trophies everywhere. There is a disagreement over "celebrating mediocrity" which kicks off the conflict throughout the rest of the movie. I think there is an interesting parallel in the dog training world.

I can see where snippets of both philosophies can be beneficial in training our hunting and housepet companions, but I find myself standing fervently with Bernie. More on this later...

1 comment:

Andrew Campbell said...

Did you change the header photograph? Another sweet one! Jack will never be a succesful vizsla trainer -- although I would say that our older dog needed more-than-your-average disciplinarian to get his force-fetch... but he loves to retrieve now! At least with vizslas, there's a big difference between degree and consistency, meaning you'll get more durable results going a little softer more often.