'Dog whisperer' credited with changing people's attitudes and behaviours towards their pets
Halloween may be over, but hundreds of people and their dogs received their biggest treat ever when they were able to speak casually with world-renowned "dog whisperer" Cesar Millan on Nov. 3.
Fans waited in line for a couple of hours — in an aisle at the Canadian Tire franchise in Shawnessy, no less — to meet and receive autographs and photos of Millan.
Crystal Clark found out about the event on Facebook. She was willing to make the hour-and-a-half-long trek from Red Deer to Calgary to speak with Millan.
Clark said the biggest thing she learned from Millan's dog training material was controlling "the way I feel when I am working with other dogs. You have to have an even temper or they feed off you."
Another fan, veterinarian Sabs Gillani, said: "Millan changed my attitude towards dogs. Prior to watching Millan, my attitude was that dogs were at fault."
"When I went home and watched his video and his shows, I changed my attitude towards dogs," Gillani continued. "I would have saved so many dogs over the years because I know now the dogs were never at fault. It was always the people who brought them up.
"I think Cesar Millan is doing a great job — a great, great job for communities — and there should be more people like him."
Theresa Van Weenan said she got her dog because of Millan and his dog training philosophy.
"He helped me realize that I am able to handle a dog. Being in a [wheel] chair, I didn't think I would be able to, so it's kind of nice to be able to see him and thank him for helping [my husband and I].
"Before [my husband and I] got married, and before we got our dog, we watched [Millan] religiously. I did a lot of research about dogs. I wanted to really make sure that I did my homework, and think through what kind of dog we were getting. [Millan] helped us, in that we were really prepared for getting a dog," Van Weenan said.
Millan said he takes his celebrity status in stride.
"This is what it is all about: getting to meet what people call fans, who I just call family. These are people who appreciate me and they tell me why. It is so important."
"It's necessary," he continued. "The physical and social interaction is necessary for me, for them, to let each other know that we care for each other. That's all that it is.
"So you hear the same thing over and over, and people ask me, 'Do you get tired?' How do you get tired of somebody saying, 'I love you,' or 'You changed my life,' or 'I appreciate you?'"
"There really is no other place in the world where you get that," he said. "And by being a great human being, and as a father, that's exactly what I want my kids to achieve: being a great human being.
"I'm just interpreting what a dog would like to say to a human. Unfortunately we live in a society that loves dogs, but doesn't know dogs."
Millan added that it's an opportunity to teach people how to train their dogs, but more importantly "to teach common sense."
"My clients are Harvard graduates, but they can't walk a Chihuahua. I get to teach very intelligent people – very emotional people – about common sense, and that's really what it is," Millan said.
After meeting Millan, Clark, Gillani and Van Weenan all said it was worth the wait.
"He was just as nice as I thought he would be," said Van Weenan. "I really admire what he does, and I told him he was the reason why I got my dog, which is true."
"He said we were doing a really good job already," she added. "It was a huge compliment. It's kind of like meeting your hero."