The Dog Psychology Center: Evolution of a dream
By Cesar Millan
The DPC started off as a dream while I was trying to make my way as a dog trainer in South Central, Los Angeles. At the time, I was surrounded by a community of drug abusers, graffiti-covered buildings and an overall negative energy. This was no place to make a dream come true. But with the support of friends and family, and the luck of a vacant parking lot, that dream took roots.
The lot was being offered to me temporarily free of charge. The owners of the property needed someone to take care of what was essentially an empty parking lot, and I needed space to train my dogs. Back then my rate to work with a dog was $10 a day, per dog. I couldn't afford rent, so the arrangement worked out perfectly for both of us. I am sure to many the area looked like a dump, but to me, it was a palace!
Believe it or not, my neighbors credit me with cleaning it up! A guy walking around with so many big dogs off-leash—Rottweilers and Pit Bulls, intimidated people. I didn't set out to do that, but it was good for my business too. People want to feel safe about the place they leave their dogs, and when we first moved in, the area did not inspire confidence.
I had so much time with my pack back then. I used to walk more, be in the mountains more, and challenge the pack more. We used to take trips to the store together. One of our favorite destinations was this small Mexican meat market a few blocks away. I would walk the pack there and buy them huge hunks of raw meat. Then, for the entire twenty-minute walk back, they had to hold those pieces in their mouth – without eating them! When they got back to the warehouse, they'd find a place to cool down and enjoy their treat. It was a great challenge, but what a scene we must have made – a pack of Rottweilers off-leash running with meat hanging out of their mouths following that Mexican guy. It was amazing, just beautiful! That was a very legendary pack.
Today the DPC looks a little different. It is no longer located in the city center of Los Angeles, but instead, sits in the hills of Santa Clarita—something my pack really enjoys. No one—other than the local wildlife—stares at us as we roam as a pack of across the property. We could go days without seeing another human, except for the amazing crew working there who comes to work every day ready to learn something new.
I never thought my dreams of owning a center where dogs can come together as a pack and be rehabilitated would ever turn out as it has. It has been a beautiful transformation over time and I am ready to really focus on getting back to the basics of rescuing dogs, rehabilitating them and then placing them in good homes. I want to recreate the farm experience from when I was a kid in Mexico and invite children to come learn the natural way of life, including actual farming and working with other species too. I would also love to open the facility to other dog trainers and have them come and learn together as a community. And I want to grow my pack to my ideal size of 50—maybe even go as large as the pack of 700 I recently got to meet in Spain.
The DPC is a growing and changing place with a lot of potential to be more than I ever dreamed. She is evolving every day and will hopefully become that place of education, rehabilitation and community that she was always meant to be.