Monday, June 4, 2012

Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan travels the world to fix dog behaviour

  Cesar Millan (Photo: National Geographic Channel)

SINGAPORE: He's known as the 'Dog Whisperer' on his popular TV show on the National Geographic Channel, helping everyone from celebrities to ordinary dog owners overcome the behavioural problems of their pet pooches.

But Cesar Millan, who is on the Asian leg of his Live tour told Channel NewsAsia he fits in a personal visit to furry friends every opportunity he gets.

It was a big day for 350 dogs at the Animal Lovers League shelter.

Many of them are rescued street dogs carrying the scars of their past.

One of them, Mango, has been singled out by the shelter's volunteers.

Christine Bernadette said: "He basically never stepped out his kennel. He has always been in there. Every time we tried to leash him, or take him out, he just gets really violent, and to us we don't want to stress him (out) or make him panicky."

But within an hour or so, Cesar has not only coaxed Mango out but also got him to swim in the pool.

Soon enough, Cesar also has his trademark roller-blades on. And after a little hesitation, Mango is soon tottering quietly alongside.

"For seven years, Mango didn't know what Singapore looked like. That's an honour, you know what I mean. As a person that loves dogs, I know how much they enjoy adventure, and having a beautiful luscious place like what you have here in Singapore, he never knew that.

"Dog lovers, or rescuers, when they see a dog (makes a snarling sound) doing that, they feel bad, and they stop, right? And what the dog learns, is to stop you with insecurity, to stop you with temper tantrums."

For volunteers like Christine, seeing Mango out and about was an emotional experience.

"He's felt grass for the first time in seven years. We took a lot of take-aways from today's experience, and the most important thing to reward Mango, not by using treats or food, but by telling him that if he came out and he was willing to step out of the kennel with us, what he'd get is something very different, a whole new experience. And we didn't know he liked to swim - he looked so happy".

Cesar said helping shelter dogs also helps him.

"There's a need, and I miss my dogs (laughs), and that's how I get my fix. I get to practice exercise, discipline and affection, and that to me is spirituality - it fulfils me.

"And as a father, I want my kids to know that if they feel sad, or they feel bad, the best thing they can do is to help somebody else. There's always going to be somebody in a worse situation that you are in."

Animal Lovers League (A.L.L) shelter houses more than 300 dogs and many of them are medium to large sized dogs and with the government looking to launch a pilot project this year, that will allow medium sized dogs in public housing.

Cesar said it's not so much the breed of the dog that matters but the amount of exercise they receive to release their pent-up energy.

"The apartments in New York are smaller than the apartments here, and they have Mastiffs, they have Great Danes, and they have humongous breeds.

"New Yorkers walk more than the people in LA, so in a way, it forces New Yorkers to walk more with their dogs.

"Dogs in LA walk less because they have big backyards.

"It's not so much the breed. It would be fantastic for the government, since the government sets the rules, to also provide areas where they can - one floor is specially for the dogs.

- CNA/ck