A Short Biography of Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer
We take a quick look at the life of Cesar Millan, known to millions around the world as the 'Dog Whisperer.'
Born Cesar Millan Favela, August 27, 1969, in Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico, to Felipe Millan Guillen and Maria Teresa Favella de Millan, he grew up with many different kinds of animals on his grandfather's farm in Sinaloa. He was a natural working with dogs, as he seemed to instinctively understand what motivated their behavior, and he earned the nickname el Perrero, "the dog boy." When he was thirteen years old he announced to his mother that one dfay he would be known as the best dog trainer in the world.
His career begins
At 21, Millan entered the United States illegally, although he couldn't speak a word of English and knew no one in America. Almost immediately, however, he secured a job in a dog grooming business and set to work handling the most aggressive canines. He also worked as a limousine driver, where he met Jada Pinkett Smith, the wife of actor Will Smith, who took him under her wing, providing him with an English tutor for a year. She became one of his first clients when he established Pacific Point Canine Academy, and she introduced him to several of her celebrity friends. Now, Cesar was on his way.
The Dog Whisperer
After being profiled in the Los Angeles Times, Millan, with MPH Entertainment, developed a television plot for The Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan, a reality TV program which follows Cesar as he visits people's homes and rehabilitates their dogs. Premiering on the National Geographic Channel on September 13, 2004, the show quickly became National Geographic's number one show. In America, the show's title is now Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan, and outside the United States it is The Dog Whisperer.
At the beginning of each show Cesar gives out his mantra: "No dog is too much for me. I rehabilitate dogs, I train people. I am the dog whisperer." To see him at work is to be astounded at his understanding of both dog psychology and people psychology. He can take the most incorrigible dogs and within minutes have them completely calmed and under control. He philosophizes that dogs, to be healthy and balanced, require strong 'pack leadership' from their owners in three basic areas: exercise, discipline, and affection - in that order, and he demonstrates to his clients how they can achieve control over their dogs by assuming the pack leader role for themselves. He says the trick for the dog owner is to "maintain calm assertive energy."
Rock star status for Cesar
The Dog Whisperer is now seen in 80 countries all over the world. Cesar's book, Cesar's way: The Natural, Everyday Guide to Understanding and Correcting Common Dog Problems, issued in 2007, became an instant best seller. He has since written and published four additional books. He may have attained a sort of ultimate honor when he was parodied on an episode of South Park, which saw Cesar being called in to train the incorrigible Cartman to behave. He has appeared several times on the Oprah Winfrey Show, his show has been nominated for several Emmys, and in 2010 Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan won the People's Choice Award for Favorite Animal Show. He has also appeared on Nightline, the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The View, Good Morning America, the Martha Stewart Show and many others.
Many of Cesar's television fans over the years became very attached to Daddy, the Pit Bull (Cesar's favorite breed) he used so often to model patience and calm behavior. Daddy died in February, 2010, at the age of sixteen, which saddened many viewers of the Dog Whisperer, including this one. Millan had chosen another Pit Bull puppy, Junior, to apprentice to Daddy and take over for him.
Finally, a bit of Cesar's wisdom:
"It's not about the dog. It's always about us. It's up to us to create an environment and circumstances in which the dog can thrive and be itself."
"To be happy, dogs basically need a good job, and good food, and a pat on the head. Americans tend to overdo the affection and under-do the exercise."
"Stay calm and assertive."
"You can say as much as you want, but the dogs are picking up what is...inside of you."
"Humans are the only animal who will follow unstable pack leaders."
Books by Cesar Millan:
Cesar's Way: The Natural, Everyday Guide to Understanding and Correcting Common Dog Problems. New York: Three Rivers Press, March 2007
Be the Pack Leader: Use Cesar's Way to Transform Your Dog...and Your Life. New York. Three Rivers Press. March 2007.
A Member of the Family: Cesar Millan's Guide to a Lifetime of Fulfillment with Your Dog. New York. Three Rivers Press. March 2008.
How to Raise the Perfect Dog: Through Puppyhood and Beyond. New York. Three Rivers Press. 2009.
Cesar's Rules: Your Way to Train a Well-Behaved Dog. New York. Crown Archetype. 2010.
All photos courtesy of photobucket.com