One of the most enjoyable interviews I’ve ever done in my radio career was surprisingly not with a rock icon or pop goddess. It with was a charismatic Mexican TV sensation by the name of Cesar Millan. Otherwise known as the, “Dog Whisperer”.
For those not familiar with his uber cool control over our four-legged friends how’s this…Oprah Winfrey called Cesar ON THE PHONE to personally ask for HIS help with her unsocial dog. Oprah. Asking for help? How impressive is that! Well according to Cesar it wasn’t. He told me he treated her like just any other person because his main purpose was to teach her how to be calm and assertive and train her dog. It was Oprah who needed rehabilitating. Can you imagine telling Oprah she has the problem and not the dog? And can you image being relayed that conversation like we were buddies talking about a mutual friend? AWESOME. STUFF. Anyway, my interview with Cesar Millan happened right here in Perth at the Hyatt Hotel when I was five months pregnant with my daughter Isabella. I confess to having a massive crush on Cesar and I love his show so I was completely and embarrassingly star struck when I walked in the room. My first thought was, ‘He’s so tiny!’ and the second was, ‘God I hate meeting hot blokes when I’m knocked up’. Oh, and then I remembered the point of the interview. To ask for help.
Let me backtrack for a sec. Before I had Isabella [who is 18 months old as I write this] I already had a baby. Well, sort of. He is big and black and and he drools a lot. In bed. Especially when he’s hot. His name is Atticus and he is a beautiful nine year old Rottweiler. Atticus and my relationship is nauseating to non-dog lovers. We do almost everything together. We take long, leisurely walks around Mt Lawley and he sits contentedly at my feet while I sip coffee at one of ‘our’ regular Beaufort street cafe’s. I know. Vomit. When I’m chilling out at home he gets up on the couch and snuggles close to me and NO I don’t have the heart to kick him off. They don’t call them puppy dog eyes for no reason. I feel safe with Atticus because I know he will always protect me. And he’s ugly enough to scare the shit out potential rapists. His boofy head is also just the right size to hug and he just KNOWS when I’ve had a bad day so he walks over to lick my face as if to say, Hey it’s cool…I’m here for you!’ Quite simply, he adores me and the feeling is mutual.
But sh*t was about to get real for my best buddy because the unnamed baby was due to arrive in less than four months. Which is how I found myself standing in front of Cesar Millan with a picture of a 55 kilogram Rottweiler and an ultrasound scan asking, ‘What should I do???’. He looked at me. There was no expression on his face. He looked at the picture of Atticus. Then he slowly moved his head to look at the ultrasound of my unborn child. There was a silence in the room so long and painful I thought that maybe he HAD spoken but due to some medical anomaly as a result of my pregnancy I had suddenly become deaf. But then I saw it. A grin. Which turned into a smile. Which became a chuckle and then I heard his incredibly sexy accent for the first time as he said, ‘I have four Rottweilers. [SEXY ACCENT] And two small boys. [STILL SOUNDING SO SEXY] You will be ok as long as Atticus knows who is boss’. Well thank Christ. Dog won’t eat kid. I felt a weight lift from my shoulders. Thank you Cesar Millan. Tell me more you hotty Dog Whisperer guy you! I was like a Christian at the feet of an evangelist preacher being told what the righteous path was and knowing I was ON IT! Hail Cesar!!!
I soaked up every bit of advice he spewed forth in the sexiest voice imaginable. I frantically took notes as he spoke. Always make sure the dog knows his place in the family. Check. I am the boss, then the child and then the dog. Alright then. Set boundaries with Atticus but also include him in activities with the baby. Um, don’t quite get that one but keep talking in that hot Mexican accent. Go on walks together but always have the pram in front so he knows his place. Can do Cesar. Be calm and assertive and say, ‘get back’ if Atticus gets too close to the baby…remember YOU are the pack leader. Uh-huh. Now can you please repeat with your shirt off.
I’m sure a lot of good dog training books provide similar information but Cesar Millan is the DOG WHISPERER people!!! He gave me confidence and a positivity that can’t be bought over the counter. And god he was gorgeous. Cesar took away my fear of bringing a baby into a house with a big dog. He showed me how to take control of my environment so that Isabella would always be safe around Atticus and in turn, how he would instinctually be a companion and protector of her. I totally get that not everyone will share my positive attitude towards dogs and children co-habitating together. Especially with an evil ferocious Rottweiler. And I will stress that supervision is an unquestionable requirement. Dogs should never be left alone with children. But I’m glad that Isabella has had and will continue to have the opportunity to grow up with a canine companion. I have watched them communicate with each other in a silent language that even I find marvelous. Now all I need is a hot Mexican to ‘communicate’ with me.
Thanks for reading!