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By Cesar Millan

This Wednesday marks a sad anniversary for me, but it’s important to share. Seven years ago, on February 19, 2010, I gathered together with my family and our veterinarian to say good-bye to the big, beautiful Pit Bull who had been my right hand dog for sixteen years.

A lot of my fans remember him. Daddy. And to those of you lucky enough to have met him, you saw what I always knew. Daddy was a very special dog. He was with me way before I became famous, and he was also the one who chose Junior to become my next right-hand dog, after rejecting my first two choices from that litter.

What a lot of people may not realize, though, is how much Daddy taught me.

It all started twenty years ago, when Daddy was four months old and originally belonged to the rapper Redman, whose career was just starting to take off. Because of this, he sought out a trainer and found me, and then Daddy wound up joining my pack after Redman realized he wouldn’t be able to care for him properly because of his schedule.

From the beginning, Daddy was balanced and calm and he got to know a lot of different dogs from early on, so he was always well-socialized. It didn’t matter what other dogs did. If they tried to be aggressive he would just walk away, and he would let little dogs do anything to him. At one time, there were two small Italian greyhounds in the pack who would climb up on Daddy and sleep on him and he’d let them.

Daddy was a natural leader and other dogs would follow him instinctively, which is how Junior wound up joining our pack by the way. Daddy picked Junior from the litter and Junior followed him when he walked away. I thought I already knew a lot about instinct when I first met Daddy, but he taught me something I hadn’t realized until then: don’t think, just do.

I’ll give you just one example. Back when I was the host of “Dog Whisperer,” one of the dogs I came to work with was Viper, who was trained to sniff out illegal cell phones in prisons. However, Viper had developed a severe fear of humans, which made it impossible for him to do his job. When I came to help, Viper hid under a table and nothing I did would convince him to come out. When I let Daddy in the room, he walked right up to Viper and led him out of his hiding place like it was nothing.

It was one of those moments when I got to see calm, assertive energy in action from the outside, and a reminder that this is what Daddy taught me from the beginning. He never intellectualized things. He just knew what to do instinctually, which is exactly why other dogs would follow him instinctively.

Daddy and I understood each other without words and we could read each other’s moods perfectly. This was the greatest lesson he brought me: how to connect. It’s also the biggest secret to getting your dogs to behave. Before you can train a dog or rehabilitate a dog, you have to connect, but you can only do it by using your instincts and communicating with your energy.

Even though Daddy is gone, he will live on in my heart forever, and I can definitely see the influence he had on Junior in their time together. If you use your time with your dog to truly connect, then you will also create a bond and a love that are immortal.

Stay calm and connect!

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