Tell us how exciting it is having your son Andre as your co-host on Dog Nation?
It’s been very exciting to able to travel around the country with him, and an educational experience for both of us. Andre is seeing a lot of places for the first time while I’m coming back, so I can show him what he hasn’t seen and he can show me how to see it with new eyes. Together, we also bring more balance to the show. I’m team Gen-X, and he’s representing the Millennials. I’m extremely proud to have had him on the show with me — and I hope that, one day soon, my other son Calvin might be able to join us.
What are some of the new episodes viewers can expect to find on Dog Nation?
This time, I’m not just helping people with their dogs, but we’re seeing firsthand how dogs help people — whether it’s aiding kids on the autism spectrum in functioning in daily life, giving new freedom to the blind, comforting burn victims and people with PTSD, or just generally being our best friends and companions. Along the way, Andre also meets and interviews a lot of interesting people with fascinating dogs, and I give some advice and solutions for the most common dog problems that everyone has.
Do you incorporate elements of The Dog Whisperer into your show? Please explain.
Yes. In each episode, I try to work with at least one dog to rehabilitate them and restore balance with their human, and the shows are also peppered with my Take Home Tips, which were done in live appearances in each city.
What important elements do you want your viewers to take away from the show?
Most of all, how dogs have so much to give to us and teach us. They are more than just pets or family members. In learning how to see and experience the world in the way that they do, we can rediscover our connection to Nature, our instincts, and our part in the vast pack that is not just humans and not just dogs, but every living thing on earth. Dog Nation is not just the U.S. It’s worldwide. Dogs know that automatically. We still need to learn it.
What was your most memorable experience during the filming of the series?
There were so many, but I think the most moving one for me, personally, was seeing Andre’s reaction to the sheer joy the autistic kids felt just by being in the presence of and working with dogs. He was literally moved to tears, and it reminded me how far I’ve come, from being a macho Mexican guy who believed that real men don’t cry to a rounded person who realizes that the ability to cry — whether from sadness or joy — is what makes someone a real man, and a true human being.
Was there anything that particularly surprised or shocked you, or that you think viewers will find interesting about the first season?
It’s always shocking to me to see how badly humans can mistreat animals, from the dog Fergus who was burned in an acid attack by a stranger to the street dogs of Tijuana. But it also surprised me, in a very pleasant way, how far out of their way the majority of humans are willing to go to help the abused, abandoned and forgotten animals.
What was your favorite city to visit and why?
Oh, I can’t play favorites! What I can say is that visiting San Diego and Tijuana had special significance for me because I was able to take Andre to see where I first came over the border, and where I lived in my first homeless days in the U.S. But every city on our tour was amazing — warm and welcoming, each with their own unique flavor but, at the same time, the unifying power of Dog Nation on full display.
What are some of the things you helped the rescues learn, accomplish, understand, etc.
I’d like to hope that they will get a sense of support and encouragement, as well as some actual support and encouragement from our audience. We were lucky enough to be able to have my office pack in L.A. go back to each of the non-profits and groups we worked with to follow up on the dogs on the show, to provide more information on each group, and to give visitors to Dognation.com a deeper understanding and appreciation of what these groups do.
As far as what I helped them accomplish and understand, I hope that I gave them the tools and knowledge to be able to succeed in future with difficult cases and to be able to rehabilitate and place the dogs they deal with, whether it’s as therapy or support dogs, police or military working dogs, or just dog dogs finding forever homes. Remember: every dog rehabilitated is one less dog destined to be destroyed. So, ultimately, I’d like to think that I have enabled these organizations to save even more lives.
Where are some of the cities or places you would like to visit on your next Dog Nation road trip and why?
The answer to that one is easy: Anywhere that I’m needed and that they’ll have me. It’s a big country, and there are still a lot of places to for the audience, Andre, and me to discover.
What is the greatest take-away from the series that you want viewers to gain from watching?
The incredible power that dogs have to be our teachers, our healers, and our guides in finding balanced, happy, fulfilling lives. They’ve got it all figured out. We just need to learn what they’re teaching us.
Dog Nation has changed the game a bit highlighting so many great rescue orgs and their work. What was your favorite org to work with and why?
All of them were important to me, each in a different way. Every group we worked with is specializing in their own journey, whether it’s rescuing and rehabilitating dogs or using the power of dogs to rescue and rehabilitate humans. It’s all excellent, vital, meaningful work, so I really can’t single out one group over another. Each one, though, reminded me of the words attributed to Gandhi, that you can measure the greatness of a nation by the way they treat their animals.
It was also important in working with these organizations to show all sides of what they’re facing — the good, the bad, and the ugly — in order to raise awareness and wake people up in this generation and the next to the importance of working together for animal rights and welfare.
By showing these organizations to the world, I hope to increase that measure of greatness for this nation, America, and for Dog Nation itself, and to make people aware of the importance of respecting Nature, and all things living in it — which, of course, includes all of us. I hope that this also moves people to support these groups, all of which need our help in order to fulfill their missions.
What do you hope your audience will gain from helping so many people and dogs on Dog Nation?
I’d like people to see that they are not alone in having issues with their dogs, but that there are also solutions. That’s the direct message, but I’d also like them to realize that the experience of having dogs and our relationships with them are universal, whether someone is a Silicon Valley professional from San Francisco, a blue collar worker from Philly, or a Congressperson in D.C. Dogs can and will unite us if we let them.
Cesar Millan’s Dog Nation: Call of Duty
Premieres Friday, April 21, at 9/8c on Nat Geo WILD
Cesar and Andre Millan visit our nation’s capital in Washington, D.C., for their second stop on their cross-country road trip. The duo head to Capitol Hill, where Rep. James McGovern and Elliot Russman, CEO of Fidelco Guide Dogs Foundation, are working together to provide blind veterans with free guide dogs. Heroic people need heroic dogs, but how people like wounded veterans find the right service dog is not so simple. Cesar and Andre consult with the organization as they introduce a guide dog to a blinded war veteran for the first time. Then they make a home visit to Jay Kohne, an army veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder who is having problems with his much-needed service dog. Jay’s service dog, Kona, is an adopted boxer greyhound mix and is helping him manage his anxiety, but Kona has begun acting dangerously around Jay’s son Levi.