Dog Whispering

By Cesar Milan

January 16, 2009 4 min read


How Cesar Millan and his pit bull Daddy found each other

Cesar Millan

Creators News Service

My pit bull Daddy is now fourteen years old, and he has had a remarkable life so far. He's been all over the United States; he's been on the Red Carpet at the Emmy Awards; and he's even been to the White House. Daddy originally belonged to a rapper named Redman. In the rap culture, it's still considered a status symbol to have a big tough dog like a pit bull or a rottweiler. Daddy certainly looked the part. But once Redman had brought Daddy home, he looked around and saw friends and colleagues of his with badly behaved pit bulls who were biting people -- people who would, in turn, slap their owners with lawsuits. Redman traveled a lot, was in the studio or touring constantly, and couldn't afford to be watching his dog like a hawk all the time. He also couldn't afford to be going to court again and again to explain that his dog was unfriendly to humans. So Redman made a responsible decision and sought out a professional to help him. Blessedly, that professional turned out to be me.

Daddy was only three months old at the time, and I had the opportunity to provide him with everything he could possibly need to be fulfilled, balanced, and challenged. I, my family, and a pack of rottweilers that I was rehabilitating at the time raised Daddy. Of course, we all know that Daddy has grown up to become the ultimate ambassador of his badly maligned breed. Though Daddy spent most of his years with me, he officially belonged to Redman until a few years ago, when he legally became mine. Though I never like to admit favoring one dog over another, Daddy and I have a bond that supersedes anything nature or science can explain. We've reached that wonderful level of companionship where we read each other's thoughts and communicate without words almost instantly.

The truth is, however, the train of life on this earth only goes in one direction, and Daddy is now a senior citizen. That's just a fact. One day, he won't be able to be here with me on this planet. Because of the way pit bulls are vilified in our society, I believe it's important to always have a pit by my side that will disprove all those terrible stereotypes against the breed. Among my pack, there are many wonderful pits that have helped with rehabilitating dogs, both at the Dog Psychology Center and beyond. But none of them have Daddy's unique brand of medium-level energy, calmness, experience, and wisdom. I can take Daddy anywhere, and I know that every human and animal that meets him falls in love with him, too.

For a long time, I could not admit to myself or out loud that Daddy was getting older. He survived cancer and chemo with flying colors, and he manages well with arthritis. Though I monitor him closely, making sure he's not too hot or too tired or has gone too long without a bathroom break, I try to live in the moment and never think about the time when he won't be my sidekick.

Cesar Millan is the star of "Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan" on the National Geographic Channel. In addition to his educational seminars and work with unstable dogs, he and his wife have founded the Cesar and Ilusion Millan Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing financial support and rehabilitation expertise to shelters.

From the book: "A Member of the Family" by Cesar Millan. Copyright 2008 by Cesar Millan and Melissa Jo Peltier. Published by arrangement with Harmony Books, a division of Randomhouse, Inc.

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