Close-up of Cesar and pit bull
Cesar Millan's Leader of the Pack
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Cesar Millan's Leader of the Pack

Learn How One Dog Launched Cesar Millan’s Entire Career

Cesar Millan credits his success as an international dog trainer to one extraordinary Pit Bull named Daddy.

With Cesar Millan’s widespread popularity, it’s hard to imagine a time before the Dog Whisperer was a household name. But every success story has to start somewhere, and Cesar Millan’s started with a special Pit Bull named Daddy. The pair was introduced in 1994 when Cesar was working as a dog walker in South Central Los Angeles and Daddy was only 4 months old. Over the next 16 years, Daddy taught Cesar insights about working with other dogs that Cesar says defined his international success as a world renowned dog trainer he experiences today. Daddy even helped choose his successor, another extraordinary Pit Bull named Junior, who Cesar still relies on as his right-hand dog during the training and rehabilitations he completes today. Watch as Cesar tells the extraordinary story of his success and his relationship with Daddy in the below clip from “Cesar Millan’s Leader of the Pack.” 

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Not only does Cesar Millan’s success story perfectly encapsulate the American Dream, but it also speaks to the powerful bonds we share with our canine companions. Dogs serve multiple invaluable roles in our life, both big and small. Some are life changing service and rescue dogs, while others come into our lives to improve our mental health or be a necessary companion. Although their lives are too short, every dog lives to teach us an important message or help us in ways we never knew we needed. While Daddy passed away at the age of 16, his legacy lives on through the memorial Cesar created for him, Junior’s work as his successor, and his influence is still present in Cesar’s training methods. 

If you’ve been a pet parent at any point in your life, you likely already know the price we pay for loving them is that one day we have to say goodbye. But we encourage you to reflect on the wonderful love you’ve shared with your past fur babies and think about the ways they’ve changed your life for the better, even if they are not physically with you today. It’s often therapeutic to find a way to memorialize your beloved pet and make a conscious effort to help their legacy live on. Some pet owners find comfort in creating a physical memorial as Cesar did for Daddy. Others choose to invest in personalized jewelry that allows them to keep a piece of their pet on their person at all times, such as a customized ring, bracelet, or necklace. Some even use their pet’s fur or ashes to make one-of-a-kind sculptures or pieces of jewelry. 

In addition to creating a physical memorial, other pet parents feel the best gift they can give to their former companion is to bequeath his home to another dog in need. In the pet community, there is a well-known poem that suggests a dog’s last will and testament is to leave his loving home to a rescue dog that has never known affection or happiness. With this in mind, many pet parents will rescue a stray in need in honor of their old pet, or make a donation to an animal shelter in their pet’s name. While you might not be training animals or working in a career in honor of a dog you once knew, you can still take actions that allow your dog to have a lasting positive impact on your life and the world. 

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