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The Cesar Millan Interview

An Interview with Cesar Millan

Gary Barg: What is the importance of pet adoption and of no kill shelters?

Cesar Millan: I think the most important thing is to understand that we have created a disposable and over-populated society of somebody who we call Manís Best Friend. And we are euthanizing four to five million a year. We are all part of it because taxpayer money is paying to euthanize these dogs. So, whether you like it or not, you are part of the euthanasia. Adopting a dog will help you save lives; but to me, it is more of adopting a philosophy of helping.

Gary Barg: As a family caregiver, so many times we are called upon to care for a senior loved one who can longer live alone and has a dog they adore. What should we do if they can no longer keep their best friend?

Cesar Millan: My mom has a pack of dogs and I take care of all of them. They are all her; it is her existence, it is who she is. So they are all one to me and I am not going to give up on them. I just do not see the separation. This is your responsibility. You have to understand the cycle of lifeóthat is the whole point of family. I am Mexican; I am Hispanic. We bring our family home. We bring our elders home and we do the same thing for dogs. So, I think it is the culture. Sometimes, you can learn from a different culture how to deal with a certain stage of life. Sometimes, you just have to get out of the bubble. When you see that as a problem, stop and ask other people who are not dealing with that situation the way you do so you can see a different perspective. That is why we need each other in this world.

Gary Barg: Your book, Cesar Millanís Short Guide to a Happy Dog: 98 Essential Tips and Techniques, is now out in paperback. My dog, Morris, wants me to ask you some of the tips that you can share with us.

Cesar Millan: Number one, I will keep moving forward with the idea of training the human. I do not see a dog as a student; I see a dog as a teacher. I think they are very honest. I think they have a high level of integrity, and they understand loyalty much better than we do. I think as a human species, we are not in agreement; therefore, we have chaos and disconnection. So we actually have to keep teaching the human that he needs to reflect. The one who needs to change bad habits is the human, right? We are really good at having bad habits; we do not really have good habits.

Gary Barg: Absolutely right.

Cesar Millan: So, because we do not have good habits, all we can teach are bad habits. So that is why I do not believe that the pit bull should be banned; I do not believe that we should blame rottweilers. They are all dogs. If you go to a preschool and ask a kid, a three-year-old or four-year-old kid, what kind of breed the dog is, he is going to say, ďThat is a dog.Ē

Gary Barg: And that is all that matters.

Cesar Millan: That is right, but once people get older, they receive certain information; they are influenced by things that happen to other peopleóa myth that people created. And so, we make accusationsónot based on reality, but based on stories. Your dog would not judge a pit bull by him being a pit bull; he will judge it based on the energy that dog has projected. Is he nervous, is he anxious, is he excited, is he tense, is he fearful? That is really how they relate to each other. They do not stereotype.

Gary Barg: Well, I always say that dogs are exceedingly honest and all you have to do is listen to them. I think I have learned more from my dog than I will ever be able to teach him.

Cesar Millan: Humans can make you smart, but that does not mean they make you have common sense. My clients may have graduated from college, but they cannot walk a Chihuahua. The degree does not give you the ability to control instincts. So a dog can really teach you about how you live your lifeóis it balanced or not? Itís as simple as that.

Gary Barg: What is the one most important piece of information you want to share with a family caregiver living with a dog?

Cesar Millan: Very simple. The walk allows you to have 90 percent of the connection. This is why homeless people are so good with dogs. They walk more than anybody else. And when they walk, what you are going to observe is that the dog is either next to them or behind them. Position means a lot. Whoever is in front is going to be called the pack leader, or the dominant one. But when you see handicapped people, blind people, the dog is next to them. We have to be able to walk a dog the way a blind person can walk a dog. Handicapped people make dogs normal; normal people make dogs handicapped. So, why can the handicapped actually walk a dog better than a person who can see? Because the handicapped person gives the dog a job, a purpose. And they do it together.

Gary Barg: That is the best piece of wisdom I think I have heard in a long time.

Cesar Millan: It is a metaphor. We do not like to learn from handicapped people; we do not like to learn from homeless people. We actually feel sorry for them. The dog does not feel sorry for them. The dog does not believe that being handicapped means that you have a body impediment. The dog believes that handicapped is when you do not have the right knowledge. That is handicapped.


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