Achieving Balance and Harmony


A Tribute to Soundman Miles

Dog Whisperer sound recordist Miles Ghormley passed away peacefully, although unexpectedly, in his sleep, the morning of May 1, 2010. He leaves his wife, Susan, and two children, Emily and Jonathan. He was 58.

During his time with MPH Entertainment, Miles worked on over 100 episodes of Dog Whisperer and was there for the filming of the pilot episode.

Miles’ co-workers adored him and will miss him dearly. He will be remembered for his gentle spirit, kind soul, and endless wisdom that set him apart from most. He was social and full of love – love for his family, his work, his country, tradition, books, Hawaiian shirts, and all things oriental – food, customs, art, and land. He was the man who baked Christmas cookies from scratch, on his own, every year, and then hand-delivered them.

He was a man who made everyone feel good, raised people’s spirits when they needed it most, and listened when no one else would. He didn’t have to be asked, he just did what he knew would make others smile or breathe a breath of fresh air. He once made a special belt for Cesar to carry the sound equipment, so the hot battery wouldn’t make him uncomfortable.

Miles’ wife, Susan is doing well, with lots of family around. She told executive producer Melissa Jo Peltier that Miles had recently been spending a lot of time with her, their kids, and had stopped to visit his sister on the drive back from Berkeley on Tuesday. He'd even gone to visit a friend dying from cancer in Oakland on Monday night during the shoot. "Nothing was left unsaid," she told Melissa. The family is grateful he died peacefully, and she said the Dog Whisperer bunch were all his family.

The Ghormley family asked that donations be made in Miles' name to the
Millan Foundation.

Perhaps the best way to honor Miles’ memory is to let those who worked with and were touched by him share their memories in their own words:

I wish I could remember the first time I worked with Miles.  It had to be fifteen to twenty years ago, probably when he was working with his friend and work partner, cameraman Bryan Duggan, on the television show, RESCUE 911, on which I was a segment director.   It wasn’t until my partners and I started MPH Entertainment in 1996 and we went into production on a series I had created, Sea Tales, that I really got to know and adore him.  We traveled all over the Eastern Seaboard together, and he became like a family member to me – a quirky, warm, heart-on-sleeve presence, always wearing a colorful camp shirt, even in the coldest weather.   I drove miles and miles in a van with him and Bryan, both of them fondly bickering like an old married couple over directions. We laughed until our stomachs hurt, debated about philosophy and psychology, and worked on solving all the problems of the world and our personal lives at the same time.

Miles always made me feel good about myself when no one or nothing else could.  He never failed to tell me that I was beautiful and fun and great at my job… and there were many times during those years that I desperately needed that affirmation.  I had a lot of bad days, low-self esteem and dark drama during our working time together, and seeing Miles always lifted my spirits upward but brought my feet back down to earth.  He reminded me to be thankful for the little things.  That was Miles – always so thrilled at any new adventure, any new, interesting person, any formerly unknown piece of knowledge that he discovered.   Miles did not take a single moment of this life for granted.   He always noticed the scenery whizzing by the outside of the van window.  And he never let anyone he cared about feel unappreciated for even a moment.

A lot of sound men just set the levels and go into auto-pilot.  Miles really listened. To everything. There were so many times when he’d jump in and help me phrase an interview question, or go up to the interviewee as he was taking off the mic and begin a spirited intellectual discussion based on the things he had just heard.  If we were traveling, he’d always pick up a book or something about the new subject we were investigating.   After his shoot, his insights on not only the subject matter, but the personalities of the people involved, were PhD-worthy.  Miles was a student of life but he was also a professor. 

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”  John Quincy Adams said that, but he could’ve been talking about Miles.  I doubt Miles would’ve thought of himself as a leader, but the gaping hole all of us are feeling in our lives at his passing is evidence that indeed he was.  Wearing the outfit of a follower, Miles led by his calm energy, his humorous take on life, and his pure and loving nature.   He was one of a kind, an Angel disguising his wings inside a floppy flowered shirt.   I’m so grateful I got to see him and be on the road with him on the last week of his life.  
Melissa Jo Peltier
Writer, Executive Producer, Dog Whisperer

My mind is flooded with thousands of stories when I think of Miles, but there is one that stands out.  It is not appropriate, but neither was he… and that’s what I loved about him.  He gave us all permission to drop the pretense, embrace our imperfection and take great joy in our common humanity.

We’re on location preparing to shoot video on a patient ward in a Catholic Hospital.  Before filming, there’s always the ‘schmooze scout session’.  The producer, director and myself are talking to two Sisters who are administrators of the hospital.  As usual, Miles has wandered off. Directly in front of us there is a privacy curtain and a patient’s portable toilet.  We are deep in conversation when I notice Miles out of the corner of my eye, stepping inside the curtain and pulling it behind him.  I’m thinking… Oh Miles, up to his usual.  One of the nuns is pointing out where we can shoot.  Suddenly, we are interrupted; we can hear Miles peeing! We look and see the back of his shoes behind the curtain.  There is a moment of disbelief and embarrassment, as we all look at each other in stunned silence.  The sound continues and the curtain opens.  Miles reveals that he was not peeing, but in fact, he was pouring the remains of his soda into the portable toilet!  He has that “grin” on his face, like, “Is there a problem?”

I laughed out loud. For me, it was hysterical, having gone to Catholic schools, and being terrified of nuns.    I’m not sure what the sisters thought in that moment, but by the end of the shoot, I do know that they loved him as much as we all do.

My best friend has fallen asleep with his dog and his book. He was my steadfast friend and my teacher. He knew the secret to this life and shared it with everyone he met... to live fully in joy and in love in every moment we have.... and lots of dessert! I have a scrap of yellow, lined paper that he scribbled a note to me, posted on my bulletin board. He had given me a birthday gift in May (my birthday's in February) of a toy hippo (my favorite animal). The note said: "A wise hippopotamus once observed, 'As a being matures, rather than marking each specific year on a certain date, as does a child, it is more polite to celebrate the entirety of its existence at any opportunity the spirit will guide.' Therefore, my brother, please accept this slight token in celebration of your life and my extreme gratitude for your steadfast friendship through these many years! Love, Miles." All I can say is ... "Back atcha, Brother. I miss you so much, and will hold you in my heart forever...." His smile is with me always.
Bryan Duggan
Director of Photography, Dog Whisperer

The last memory I have of Miles is of us in Berkeley. We were shooting – not an episode, but a segment for the book. He had a “goodbye ritual,” so every single time he said goodbye, he’d say “I’m so honored and grateful to work on this show. Thank you boss.” And this last time, before his normal goodbye, he paused and put his right hand on my shoulder and said, “You’re a great man.” That’s the last time I saw him.

Miles was the soundman – the guy who’d catch me with the wrong accent, word, or pronunciation. He never stopped listening, he never got tired or bored. He was never fed up. He made sure everyone always felt good and every one we shot with knew Miles. They might not know anyone else on the shoot, but they knew Miles. He was very social. He was kind and he was a gentleman. With everyone. Selfless and caring. He brought a lot of acceptance and love to the Dog Whisperer family. And he was a great listener, especially when it came to family.

One of the things I’ll miss most – Miles was very knowledgeable about history. He read a lot of books! Anywhere we travelled to, Miles knew about it and I got to know the places we went through him. He was the best storyteller, as least to me he was. It seemed like there was nothing he didn’t know, and when he didn’t know, he’d ask a local or a concierge and get the answers.

He always enjoyed the breakfast I’d make at home – cochinita pibil or chilorio – traditional pork dishes that are prepared differently, but the best way to eat them is with red pepper, lemon, salsa verde, and small tortillas, taco size. Miles would eat at least 10! And afterwards, he’d say, “ Thank you so much, boss. That was a delicious meal.”
And at Christmas, he always made cookies and personally delivered them to my house. He was a traditional guy. We will all miss him.
Cesar Millan

I'm not really certain in how to begin to express my feelings about "Milsey," as I have affectionately called him for all these many years. He gave me many laughs and so many insights about what it is to truly give back. Miles was always there to help in any way he could, from making a huge difference building orphanages in Mexico for so many years to just offering a much-needed word of encouragement. Miles was the most altruistic person I have ever known.

He would bring such joy even in his colorful, wild shirts – winter, summer, no matter. I was always impressed and amazed at his intellect, always a book in hand taking any opportunity to learn and seek out knowledge.

We used to say that if we had a nickel for every time we would shout out, "Where's Miles?" we would all be rich . . . well, we are all rich at having had the privilege of spending so much time with such a wonderful human being.  

Oh, and how about those Christmas cookies . . . not made by Susan, but done by Miles with his love – all that green frosting with the colorful sprinkles. I will miss you my friend and know that you are where you belong and at peace. Oh, I just hope that homeland security was not involved in your trip to heaven.
SueAnn Fincke
Supervising Producer, Dog Whisperer

The beauty of Miles was his was always positive. Always. When I was directing, he never failed to come up to me at the end of the day to say "Thank you for hiring us to work on this wonderful show." He was a great guy, an integral part of the "Dog Whisperer" family and he will be sorely missed.
Jim Milio
Executive Producer,
Dog Whisperer

Every time I had contact with Miles he was always a perfect gentleman. Grace and charm were just part of his witty character.  I always looked forward to seeing him and talking.  He will be so missed.
Susan Whalen
Executive Assistant to Cesar Millan

I had lunch with soundman Miles Ghormley after a shoot one day. Amongst his belongings, he carried with him into the restaurant a small carrier, from which he produced a puppy no bigger than a hamster; a toy chihuahua/terrier mix. He brought the puppy up and set it on his chest, allowed it to reach up to lick him twice on the chin before settling down, then half covered it with the right breast of his fleece jacket. Soon after, it was asleep. Even the waitress, who was under orders not to allow dogs in the restaurant, was charmed by the display. Miles was a big man with a gentle disposition, a smile, and a handshake for everybody. I didn't know him well, but well enough to miss him. Godspeed, Miles.
Stephen Grossman
Writer, Cesar Millan Inc.

Every week without fail Miles would write two or three lines on the bottom of his time card about two characters he’d make up, Dirk and Sylvia (sometimes her name was Laura), and the adventures they had. Starting with his first time card of 2010 to his last shoot with us on 4/28 for Book 5, this is Miles story:

Dirk took two long paces and leaped.  Sylvia could hear his primal scream all the way...
...38 snub nose was cold against her back.  Dirk was out of view as Sylvia raised...
... her smile was...
... his trousers fell to the carpet...
... he pushed it past 90, Sylvia closed her eyes.  Why was she to blame for...
...was running fast.  when Dirk reached the precipice he lept far out over the...
... had only purchased a one way ticket.  Dirk looked in his wallet but...
... night blooming jasmine was sweet in the air.  Gray clouds blowing fast over the horizon.  Her tears fell...
...lips met and it was as if all the years, all the excitement and sadness had never...
...the old steel against her temple.  Sylvia wrapped her finger around the...
...shivered in anticipation as Dirk ran his hands down her back.  Sylvia knew the snub nose was...
...Sylvia said she'd always been a dancer.  She worked at 14 clubs a day.  And though she thought...
...blowing through Sylvia's hair.  Dirk shoved both throttles full forward...
...crying.  how could Dirk do this?  She hung the Raven semi-automatic on her...
...rain again, harder this time.  Dirk buttoned his coat over the .38 and together they ducked under...

Sound Doggie, you will be missed.
Amy Higgins
Production Accountant, Dog Whisperer

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