Interview: Cesar Millan

The Dog Whisperer comes to Boston
By JEFFREY GANTZ  |  December 9, 2009

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If dogs are man's best friend, then Cesar Millan — who's bringing his Pack Power Tour to Agganis Arena this Sunday — has to be every dog's best friend. I catch the star of the National Geographic Channel's Emmy-nominated Dog Whisperer on his cell phone between appointments in the Los Angeles area to talk about his right-hand pit bull, Daddy, his new Dog Psychology Center in Santa Clarita, and why it's easier to rehabilitate dogs than it is to train people.

Not that you aren't the star of your own show, but I think all his fans will want to know how Daddy is doing.
Oh, thank you very much, Daddy's doing well for 15 years of age. Before I left this morning, I fed him, took him for a walk, and my mom and my dad were there, so I was happy to see him getting affection from my parents as well. But, you know, you can see his age. He always took one step at a time, but now he's taking one meal at a time.

How did you get Junior to take Daddy on as his adoptive father?
Well, obviously I did it when Daddy was 13 and was still very active, and it was very important to know when to bring a puppy into his life, and I admire Daddy's way of being in the world. And because he was neutered, I knew he couldn't have his own child, but you can always pass the wisdom. I just had to pick a puppy that was the same energy that he was when he was four months old, when I met him for the first time. And the rest, well, I see Daddy in Junior, the behavior, the mannerisms, the way he treats humans, the way he helps dogs — I mean, he knows this is his goal. Pit bulls are not bred for healing people, or for healing dogs — they're bred for different purposes. But because I channel the energy into something more humane, they're using all this pit-bull energy into really making it happen.

Was it hard to leave the old Dog Psychology Center?
No, because I left it to a rescue organization, so I pretty much donated all the fences I'd created over the years — it took me 10 years to build that place. I knew all the dogs were going to get the benefit of it, and I'm moving from two acres to 43 acres. I knew that somebody else was going to take this place that I built from pretty much nothing, and it was going to be for the purpose of dogs, so, nope, it felt like the right time.

What are you going to be doing at the Boston stop of your tour? Will you be bringing dogs from your pack?
The dogs that we bring on stage are dogs that belong to that area. We go and evaluate certain cases that can serve the purpose of the learning experience, such as aggression, anxiety, fear, insecurity. We bring them on stage, and the point is to show people how simple it is to practice calm, assertive energy. Because a lot of people go, "No, stop it!", and that's not calm at all. And you're not assertive anymore. So, once people learn, which is half the show, then we get to the second half, that's where I bring people on stage and ask them the question of the show, "How can I help you?" And even though they just watched the show, they say, "Well, my dog has a problem!" It's very interesting to see how much people don't listen.

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