The Untold Story of Cesar Millan, The Dog Whisperer



Cesar Millan ais famously known as the “Dog Whisperer,” a man with a special talent for training dogs, but the skilled dog-lover is so much more than that. Behind his calm demeanor and smiling face, is an incredible real-life story.

Humble Beginnings


Cesar Millan grew up on his grandfather’s farm in Sinaloa, in northwestern Mexico. While living on the farm, he became comfortable working and living around numerous a range of different animals. Despite his love for all creatures, the young boy had “a natural way with dogs.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Mocked


Millan was comfortable around canines, while they took an easy liking to him. Eventually, he started being followed by a small pack of neighborhood dogs, something that didn’t go unnoticed by the local children. He was cruelly mocked and nicknamed “El Perro,” which is roughly translated to mean “Dirty Dog Boy.”

ADVERTISEMENT

He Knew What He Wanted


Regardless of being bullied for his love for dogs, Millan wouldn’t let the torment affect his relationship with his four-legged friends. By the time he was thirteen, he had big plans to become the best dog trainer in the world. He was greatly inspired by the well-trained performing dogs he saw on popular television shows such as Lassie and The Adventures of Tin Tin.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Set His Sights On The Bright Lights


The ambitious teenager didn’t want to pursue his dreams in Mexico, and was determined to travel elsewhere to realize his goals. So, the Mexican native set his sights on Hollywood, believing that’s where he would have the best chance at becoming a successful and world-renowned dog trainer.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

He Came Into The United States Illegally


On December 23, 1992, a 21-year-old Millan told his mother that he was leaving home to go to the United States. In a loving show of support for his son, Millan’s father gifted him all of his life’s savings, telling him to turn his dream into a reality. With $100, Millan traveled to a Tijuana and began his treacherous search for a way across the border.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Smugglers Faced Hardships


During his search, he began following ‘coyotes’, specialized smugglers who help lead Mexican migrants across the United States border. While following one group, he witnessed a number of people become swept away to their deaths in a flooded canal. He believed following one of these groups would endanger his life. Once again, he found himself alone.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

It Didn’t Get Any Easier


Millan walked along the border for two weeks until he found a hole in the fence that was guarded by a man who demanded $100 for passage. Millan gave him his $100, all the money that he had. When he came into the United States, he had no friends, no money, no job, and no plan at to how he would survive.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Survival Or Die


He spent his early days in San Diego living as a homeless man, sleeping under the freeway. He survived off of convenience store hot dogs which cost one dollar for two. All he had to do was make one dollar a day to survive. Finally, after months of hardship and struggle, he experienced a stroke of luck.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

He Found A Job As A Dog Groomer


Prior to coming to the United States, Millan learned the English sentence “do you have an application for work?” Using that one sentence, he managed to score a part-time job at a local dog groomers. While working, the owners were amazed by his ability to handle dogs, especially those that were unruly or aggressive.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Slowly Learning


Millan understood his talent and after moving to Inglewood, he opened up his own dog walking business. He quickly became successful, with some of his earliest patrons being Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, who even paid for Millan to have a year of English lessons.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Working His Way Up


Millan’s talent and his dog walking business quickly became the talk of the town in the greater Los Angeles area. After some time saving up, he had enough money to open up his Dog Psychology Center in South Central Los Angeles. His success at rehabilitating unruly and troubled dogs eventually led him to be profiled in a 2002 edition of The Los Angeles Times. Now, the entire city of Los Angeles and the surrounding areas had access to Millan’s story. Soon, stardom came knocking.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Catching The Attention Of Television Producers


It wasn’t long after his profile in The Los Angeles Times that Millan had television producers wanting a chance to televise Millan’s amazing story. Most of them had the same goal, to create a show centered around Millan’s techniques of training and handling dogs. Millan eventually signed on with National Geographic to create ‘The Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan.’

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Torn


At first, he was torn between Animal Planet and National Geographic, however, National Geographic offered him a contract of 26 episodes whereas Animal Planet couldn’t promise anything more than a pilot. So, Millan began working with National Geographic, little did he know, this would be the start of something truly remarkable. 
ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Part Of The Show


Soon after the launch of The Dog Whisperer, Millan’s American pit bull named Daddy became just as much a part of the show as Millan himself. Daddy served as an example of how any breed can be trained to be an excellent, well-mannered and loving dog. Daddy helped Millan on the show, working alongside him as an example for the other dogs on how to behave and respond to commands. Daddy also had a story of his own.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Strong Bond


He was once belonged by New Jersey rapper Redman who chose to give up the dog once his busy touring schedule became too much to handle. After Millan agreed to watch the dog for him, Redman eventually gave him to Millan impressed by the powerful bond the dog and trainer obviously shared.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Millan Has Been In Legal Trouble More Than Once


While life seemed to be going well for Millan, sadly, that wasn’t exactly the case. In 2006, he was the subject of two lawsuits in just one week. There first was filed by his publicist Makeda Smith and her partner Foster Corder, who claimed that they had come up with the name the Dog Whisperer while discussing future projects with Millan.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Dog Whisperer


However, when the show actually came out, they were never given any credit for the show’s chosen title. This led them to sue Millan and the National Geographic Channel, asking for $5 million in damages. Unfortunately, this was only the beginning for Millan’s many troubles.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Faced With Another Lawsuit


Just days later, Millan was hit with another surprise lawsuit. While Millan’s head was still spinning about the first lawsuit, the producer of 8 Simple Rules Flody Suarezclaimed that his five-year-old Labrador retriever was abused in Millan’s facility. Suarez stated in his lawsuit that he rushed his dog to the vet hours after leaving Millan’s dog rehab facility. The dog was having difficulty breathing and was covered in mysterious bruises.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Hearsay


Allegedly, the canine was supposedly forced to run on a treadmill for an extended period of time and was asphyxiated by the use of a choke chain which damaged the dogs oesophagus. The dog required invasive surgery to repair its oesophagus with the vet bills reaching $25,000. However, this wasn’t the first instance of reported animal cruelty to be aimed at Millan’s facility.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Attacked By American Humane


In 2006, American Humane, one of the oldest animal protection organizations, sent a letter to the National Geographic Channel, claiming that some of Millan’s techniques on The Dog Whisperer were “inhumane” and “potentially harmful.” They cited numerous instances which they considered the mistreatment of animals.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Startling Episode


One in particular, was an episode in which Millan holds a dog up by a choke chain before pinning it to the ground in order to display dominance. The director of the Animal Behavior at Tufts claimed that the show set dog training back 20 years.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Further Criticism


Along with Flody Suarez, American Humane, and other experts, more people have spoken out against Millan and his unconventional training methods. Steve Dale, who is a certified animal behavior consultant and pet journalist has made his opinions known about Millan and his questionable techniques. He refers to him as the “Dog Screamer,” claiming that “millions of people thought they had a new and uniquely insightful understanding of dogs and dealing with problem behavior. The fact is that he uses antiquated and made-up methods.”

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Things Were About To Get Harder


Furthermore, even people outside of the animal world such as British talk show host Alan Titchmarsh have revealed their suspicion about Millan’s methods. Unfortunately for the Dog Whisperer, things were only about to get more difficult.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Things Came Crashing Down In 2010


It’s safe to say that 2010 was not the best year for Millan. Devastatingly, his long-time friend and loyal companion, Daddy, passed away of cancer at the age of 16. Daddy had been alongside Millan since practically the beginning of his career and through his rise to fame, so his death was extremely hard for Millan to accept. Before Millan could even mourn the loss of his four-legged friend, he was abruptly notified that his wife of 16 years was filing for divorce.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

His Financial Situation Left Him Shocked


Upon hearing about his wife’s plans to divorce him, he knew that it was time to sort out his finances. Considering his popularity and professional success, he believed he was financially comfortable, but what he found left him completely shocked. Shockingly, a string of poor business decisions had left his financial situation in dire straits. In complete disbelief, he also learned that he only owned the rights to the Dog Whisperer t-shirts and touring rights, something he described as being “the biggest shock in the world.”

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

It All Became Too Much


Millan has gone on record saying that 2010 was the lowest point in his entire life. It wasn’t until 2012 that he opened up to the public about how desperate his situation really was. He admitted that he had attempted to take his own life in 2010, feeling that nothing could save him from his feelings of depression and self-destruction. Everything he had worked so hard for had suddenly fallen apart all at once. Luckily, a second chance was soon on the way.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

He Used His Own Teachings To Help Himself


Millan knew that he needed to take matters into his own hands if he wanted to gain control of his life. He refused opting for medication to help him with his depressive symptoms, believing that his best chance at recovering was to follow his own teachings. He created his own rehabilitation schedule, much of which he taught to both owners and their dogs on his show. He used a healthy combination of exercise, discipline, and affection to help overcome his depression.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

It’s Always Darkest Before The Dawn


During Millan’s rehabilitation, he met a woman named Jahira Dar, someone who Millan considers to be one of the most positive influences on him during his healing. During that time, he was also presented with new opportunities for television shows. It wasn’t long before Millan was back in front of the camera with two new shows, Leader of the Pack and Cesar 911. He soon began working alongside his son Calvin on the Nickelodeon live-action preschool series Mutt and Stuff.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Back In Trouble With The Law


Unfortunately, Millan found himself in the wrong kind of spotlight once again in 2015. A pit bull named Gus attacked a woman named Alison Bitney six days after being released early from Millan’s Dog Psychology Center.
Bitney claimed that she had “disfiguring open wounds, and deep muscle and tendon lacerations,” and that Millan’s center is to blame for the attack since they released the dog too early when the owner fell behind on payments.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

In Their Defense


Dspite the troubling allegations, the center defended themselves saying that the owner pulled the dog out of program early against the staff’s recommendations. All eyes fell on Millan to explain the seemingly disastrous situation.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Cesar Today


After years, Millan has made a triumphant comeback. Today, Millan stars in the show Cesar Millan’s Dog Nation, which is co-hosted by his son Andre Millan. Together, the two travel the country in an RV, focusing on organizations that help dogs and highlight K-9 heroes. He also hosts Cesar Millan Live, a speaking tour where he performs demonstrations on how to train and work with dogs in front of a live audience.