Cesar Millan, otherwise known as the Dog Whisperer, wowed a crowd at the Overture Center for the Arts Friday night with his extensive knowledge of dog training. He began his talk with his life story, saying he told his mother when he was 13 years old he wanted to be the best dog trainer in the world. Clearly he has achieved this goal, considering his show “The Dog Whisperer” has run on Animal Planet for nine years.
He brought his dog Junior on stage and the pit bull rolled around on stage looking like the most adorable dog in the world. Millan introduced Junior by saying, “Tonight it’s a Mexican and a pit bull talking to you.” His sense of humor is not often apparent on the show, but the jokes he cracked at the Overture Center had the audience in stitches.
Millan peppered his speech with different stories about training dogs in America, focusing on two issues: the problems that stem from treating dogs like humans and the four to five million dogs euthanized in America every year. For the first issue, Millan told the story of his experience with Oprah Winfrey and her dog Sophie.
“We are all aware that Oprah owns half the world, yes?” he said, and then went on to explain that humans know Oprah is powerful, but to a dog, she’s just another human. His message was that in order to help a dog, we must see it for what it really is — a dog.
The most exciting part of the night was when different dogs were brought up on stage. One was from the Dane County Humane Society that had issues being adopted and another was a dog obsessed with laser pointers. Millan demonstrated his incredible ability to relate to dogs by instantaneously calming both dogs. Watching him interact with the animals live proved his true magic.
When talking about the issue of dogs being put down, Millan was adamant it was people misunderstanding dogs, rather than dogs being aggressive.
“I have only met two aggressive dogs in my life and one lives with me,” he said. He talked about pit bulls, and how this breed is mistakenly thought to be aggressive due to miscommunication. By understanding dogs more and respecting them for what they are, we can start to cut down on the number of dogs euthanized every year, he said.
Have you ever had a question as to why your dog is acting in a certain way? According to Millan, oftentimes the dog is replicating your feelings, as dogs reproduce and feed off of humans’ energy. Animals always know how their owner is feeling, and in order to have a stronger relationship with a pet, one must try and listen to how they communicate.
Millan was a hilarious and charming host, playing a clip of the TV show “South Park” making fun of him. At times it felt more like a comedy show than a show about dog training, although the one lesson that resonated with the audience was one of acceptance. Millan advised the audience to accept people, dogs and other beings for what they are, and not to try and morph them into something they are not. He ended the show with a quote from Mahatma Gandhi: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” By that measure, America needs to step it up!