Cesar Millan’s story is well-known among dog lovers everywhere. In short, he illegally crossed the border between Mexico and the U.S. in his youth, worked low paying jobs to eat, slept in his car, and through some divine miracle (or destiny) he managed to become one of America’s most beloved television dog trainers.
He managed to become a nationalized citizen too, all the while working at the top of his game training dogs for some of our biggest celebrities and rock stars. His TV show on National Geographic channel became a hit, but within a short span of time things began to get messy with the producers of the show.
As gimmicky as it was to some, many professional dog trainers looking on each week discovered some words of wisdom, the Dog Whisperer on National Geographic channel was a pretty decent show and provided lots of tips about training ill-natured dogs, the biting ones like Pit Bulls. But no sooner had his star shined at its brightest, Millan was suddenly facing detractors hell bent on exposing him for cruelty to animals.
The war between the Millan and especially the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals grew tense, then Nat Geo informed him that he didn’t own the rights to the show Dog Whisperer, which was an advertising juggernaut.
There were many accusations leveled at Millan, some of which involved the over-use of force to a point of cruelty. Maybe it was the ASPCA that brought him down, others point to different advocacy groups of dog owners that felt Millan was endorsing the use of excessive pressure to dominate the dogs in his pack. It didn’t matter, the damage was done.
Millan said many times that he was “leader of the pack.” But I never saw anything on his show that even hinted as excess pressure. Sure he snapped his fingers, and maybe nudged a dog or two, but that should not have taken down the Dog Whisperer. So what did?
It’s my opinion as a viewer that what likely happened was that he fell victim to his own success. He let fame drive his training methods and when confronted with being cruel and overly dominate to dogs, he refused to give way and rethink what he was doing on TV. It happens to reality TV stars, they buy into their own propaganda, oblivious to the changes in attitude of those around them. But that’s my opinion and nothing more.
That’s not to suggest that he didn’t offer anything valid or different to TV viewers. The fact is I think Milan contributed greatly to the advancement of minorities in television. He demonstrated through his unconditional love of some very mis-understood breeds (pit bulls) that dogs of all types can be trained and that no dog is beyond redemption, no matter how mean or aggressive they may appear.
Now Millan is attempting to pick up the pieces of his career and time will tell if he rise again to the level he had seen before. He has several TV shows in the works on various cable channels. Surely, his loyal fans think Millan deserves another chance just like the dogs that he rehabilitated. What do you think?
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