Dog Goes From Disaster to Lifesaver

With help from Cesar Millan, one-time stray now helps firefighters save lives.


LOS ANGELES, March 30, 2006 — -- Cesar Millan has a gift when it comes to dogs.

He has the ability to think and even act like one, which may be why his show "The Dog Whisperer" has become a global sensation.

"In the animal world, who you are is energy," he said. "The more I awaken this side of people, the more people will say 'yes, I can be calm and assertive' and I don't actually have to speak to speak with animals."

For Millan, when a dog misbehaves, it is the owners who need teaching, and often the problem is too much affection and not enough structure.

A lot of people do "affection, affection, affection" rather than exercise, discipline and affection, which is the combination that fulfills the dog's mind, Millan says.

A crowd of hundreds of the pets and families Millan has helped gathered in Los Angeles recently to help him celebrate the taping of the 100th episode of his show, which airs on the National Geographic Channel.

During its four-year run, the series has had huge successes, like Wilshire the fire house dog.

The firefighters of the Los Angeles Fire Department's Fire Station 29 had an emergency on their hands that they didn't know how to handle.

Wilshire was an unruly rescued dalmatian puppy who knew no bounds, in the kitchen, the station or near the trucks.

In fact, one day when the trucks were leaving on an emergency, Wilshire ran out into the middle of Wilshire Boulevard and was nearly hit by a car.

That was the day that firefighter Ryan Penrod knew he had to call Millan.

Within minutes of Millan's arrival, Wilshire was learning boundaries.

Within days, he was working out on the treadmill with the guys.

And within a year, Wilshire was saving lives by teaching kids how to escape a fire.Penrod and Wilshire teach thousands of kids how to "stop, drop and roll," with Wilshire actually demonstrating the life-saving maneuver.

The dog also shows kids how to crawl low across the floor to get to clean air when escaping a fire.

Penrod said he and the other firefighters at the station never imagined their little unruly puppy would one day become such a wonderful way to save lives.

"He's giving back 10-fold what we've given to him," Penrod said. "He's actually out there with the program saving lives by educating kids."

Across the city is another of Millan's success stories.

This one was a dog with quite the opposite problem of Wilshire. Luna was a rescued puppy who was to afraid to leave the house.

"It's definitely been a journey," her owner, Abel Delgado, said. "When I first got her, she was a mess. She was very anxious and had a hard time just being a dog."

Luna didn't run or play, just cowered and hid, Delgado said. The puppy would be one of Cesar's biggest challenges.

After nearly two months, Millan brought Luna to life in a way even Delgado wasn't sure was possible.

"He was able to really connect with her and for anybody to connect with her it takes quite a person," Delgado said. "He's amazing."

Now Luna doesn't hide anymore. She runs and plays, and is everything that Delgado hoped for.

"That's what a little rehabilitation does to a dog," Delgado said. "I just wanted her to love being a dog."

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