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Cesar Millan

Cesar Millan

Born in Mexico, the young boy grew up on his grandfather's Culiacan ranch, spending his time with packs of dogs. The quiet Millan felt a kinship with animals that he did not feel with people. A natural pack leader, he found himself engrossed with American television - particularly episodes of the old "Lassie" and "Rin Tin Tin." With his last $100, 18-year-old Millan ran across the US border in his quest to become a professional dog trainer for Hollywood's celebrity canines. Speaking no English, the young man landed a job at a San Diego grooming parlor. Still determined to make it to Hollywood, he saved up his money and moved north, landing work at Burbank dog kennel. It was not long before his reputation spread among Los Angeles animal shelters and rescue groups.Eventually, word drifted up to the rich and famous hills of Hollywood, that there existed a modern day "Dr. Doolittle" who could communicate with the four-legged variety. Actress Jada Pinkett-Smith heard about Millan from a friend and called on him to tame her husband Will Smith's four Rottweilers. She recommended Millan to others, and so on and so on. With his new influx of cash, the now English-speaking Millan opened up his own Dog Psychology Center in South Central LA - a two acre site, complete with warehouse and fenced-in pens for his revolving door of 50 plus problem pooches. Millan - or, el perrero ("the dogman"), to his LA neighbors - continued to work his magic - even rehabilitating breeds considered too aggressive, such as Pit Bulls and Dobermans. Often violent dogs were brought here in a last ditch attempt to reform before being put to sleep. Through it all, Cesar insisted there were "no bad dogs - only bad owners" and claimed he had successfully rehabilitated all but two out of hundreds of dogs.In an age of self-help gurus, it was only a matter of time before pet psychology became the next television topic du jour. With all the buzz he'd created amongst the Hollywood elite - including clients Nicholas Cage, Hilary Duff and Vin Diesel - Cesar was handpicked by the National Geographic Channel to head up his own show, entitled "The Dog Whisperer." Premiering in September, 2004, the series was an immediate hit. Viewers tuned in to watch Millan first sit with the owners to get a sense of the problem, before launching into his usual speech that "dogs are not humans" and that "people must be their dogs pack leader to maintain the dog's balance." After laying the true blame on sometimes defensive owners, he worked with the animal, often bringing its constant barking, obsessive-compulsive tendencies or furniture-destroying habits under control in a matter of minutes.Word of Millan's seemingly magical powers reached the influential ears of one Oprah Winfrey, who invited the new reality-TV star onto her show, in the hopes of helping her handle Sophie, her cocker spaniel with issues. After reaching 10 million viewers with that one appearance, his show's ratings skyrocketed. Other media appearances included guesting on NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and ABC's "Live with Regis & Kelly." In the summer of 2005, Millan received a Genesis Award commendation by the Humane Society.Following the inspired success of his first season, Millan saw the network move his show to primetime and expand it to an hour for the second season. He and his wife, Illusion, also formed Cesar Millan, Inc. - a brand company from which to develop projects and products that would capitalize on the "Dog Whisperer" reputation. First up - a self-help book, Cesar's Way: The Natural, Everyday Guide to Understanding and Correcting Common Dog Problems - followed by the DVD, "People Training for Dogs." Millan also contributed a b-weekly column for the popular website www.pets911.com, between fielding an average of 100 calls a day from frustrated pooch owners around the world.
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