Monday, October 20, 2008

Immigrant of the Day: Cesar Millan (Mexico)

180pxcesar_millan Cesar Millan (born August 27, 1969) is a professional dog trainer; in his words, he "rehabilitates dogs, trains people." He is best known for his television series, Dog Whisperer, which is currently in its fifth season and airs on the National Geographic Channel.

Cesar's strongest interest is in rehabilitating aggressive dogs, and he holds a special fondness for what he refers to as the "power breeds," such as pit bulls and rottweilers.

Millan, a native of Culiacan, México, was born in 1969. Millan spent much of his early childhood at a farm in Ixpalino, near Culiacán, where his grandfather was a farmer. He was fascinated by all animals from an early age, but was most drawn to dogs and spent a great deal of time observing the behavior of the packs of farm dogs and how they worked on the farm.

On December 23, 1990, at the age of 21, Millan, who spoke no English, crossed the border into the United States. His family scraped together one hundred dollars for his journey, and Millan crossed through Tijuana. He did not have a visa to enter into the United States.  He spent a few weeks at the home of a cousin in Tijuana, studying the border. His first three attempts to cross failed. The fourth time, after an arduous journey which involved spending hours in a water hole waiting for the right time to avoid the border patrol, he succeeded. He lived on the streets for a month but then got a job and eventually room and board at a dog grooming parlor. Millan gained a reputation as someone who could work easily with the most difficult and aggressive dogs. Millan's next job was washing limousines, work that had been offered to him by one of the San Diego clients.

Millan changed his career goal from that of being a Hollywood dog trainer to rehabilitating troubled dogs and he started his own business, the Pacific Point Canine Academy, and came up with a logo, a jacket, and business cards. His employer started recommending him to his friends, and Millan's client list grew.

In 1994 he came to the attention of celebrities Will Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith who began recommending Millan to many other celebrities and also mentored him in other ways, helping to improve his English as well as becoming good friends. As his English language skills grew, Millan worked on improving his own education, reading books about dog psychology and animal behavior.

By word of mouth, Millan's popularity continued to grow, and he was able to fund his own Dog Psychology Center, a two-acre facility in South Los Angeles with six employees, whose purpose is to rehabilitate dogs. Millan is president of his own company, Cesar Millan, Inc. He is also a member of the International Association of Canine Professionals. Millan now is a U.S. citizen.

For more on Cesar Milan, click here.

KJ

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