“The Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan” is broadcast in over 80 countries, including in the U.S. on the National Geographic Wild Channel.
Now in its ninth season, Cesar has become a household name, allowing him to build a vast dog training empire, with five bestselling books, a line of pet products and a magazine.
And because in the U.S., 3 to 4 million stray or abandoned dogs are unable to find loving homes and are euthanized, Cesar has a foundation to help rescue many dogs and find loving homes for them.
Cesar lives in the beautiful hills of Santa Clarita, California, north of Los Angeles where he runs a 43 acre Dog Psychology Center for troubled or abandoned dogs.
This facility includes a swimming pool, hiking trails and many other amenities which Cesar shares with at any one time the 30 to 40 dogs that he rehabilitates and trains and places in loving homes.
Yet Cesar achieved all he has against almost impossible odds.
Growing up poor in Mexico in a small house with no indoor plumbing or running water, Cesar was shy and not popular in school. But he developed a way with dogs and spent his time with them as kids laughingly called him “dog boy.” (“El Perrero”)
When Cesar was a teenager his family bought their first television and he became fascinated by re-runs of “Lassie” and “The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin,” which inspired him to dream of moving to Hollywood to become a famous dog trainer.
In December, 1990, 21 year old Cesar, who spoke no English, paid $100 of his dad’s money to be sneaked across the border into San Diego. An illegal immigrant, for a month Cesar lived homeless on the streets and was so desperate, he asked strangers for money to buy gas station hotdogs, 2 for 99 cents.
Looking for work Cesar went to a dog grooming shop and they gave him an opportunity to calm an aggressive cocker spaniel so it could be groomed.
Cesar calmed the dog, helped groom it and earned $60, at that time all the money in the world to him, as he thought of how many gas station hot dogs he could buy.
The shop owners liked Cesar, saw he was talented with dogs and hired him. When they realized he was living on the street they gave him a key to the shop so he would have a safe place to live, one that was warm and where he could shower and hang his clothes.
Cesar later moved to Los Angeles, working long hours at a car wash, as he continued to save every nickel he could. After a time, his boss gave him an old Chevrolet van and Cesar started a portable dog training business from it. And as he gained clients, he built an excellent reputation.
Meanwhile in his personal life, in 1994 Cesar married Ilusion Wilson and the couple had two sons, Andre born in 1995 and Calvin, born in 2001. Unfortunately in 2010, Cesar’s and Ilusion’s 16 year marriage ended in divorce.
But 1994 was eventful to Cesar for another reason. That year he met actress Jada Pinkett (now Jada Pinkett Smith after marrying Will Smith) and helped to train her dogs. Jada was so pleased, she recommended him to others in Hollywood and his business grew.
Jada also learned of Cesar’s dream of having a Hollywood dog training show, but she saw a huge problem. Cesar didn’t speak English well and television producers would never hire him.
So Jada hired a tutor who polished Cesar’s English. In the meantime his business kept growing and in 2002, after a Los Angeles Times article profiled him and his South Central Los Angeles Dog Psychology Center, television show producers came to Cesar. .
On September 13th, 2004 the National Geographic Channel put “The Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan” on the air. That first season it became a hit.as Cesar charmed the audience and worked his magic with dogs and their owners.
Today, formerly homeless and 99 cent hot dog man Cesar is famous across the world and he makes a wonderful difference for millions of dog lovers and their devoted canine companions.