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'Dog Whisperer' looks forward to new lease on life
Besides meeting Dar, constant work also helped him turn it around, said Millan, who described himself as a punctual workaholic who delegates chores and seldom cracks a smile. He runs a rehab complex, the Dog Psychology Center, at a ranch in Santa Clarita, a magazine and a philanthropic foundation, and sells his own line of dog products and instructional CDs and DVDs. His seventh book, "A Short Guide to a Happy Dog," is due out Jan. 1, and Nat Geo Wild will premiere a new show, "Leader of the Pack," on Jan. 5. "Dog Whisperer" ended its run on Sept. 15.
The new series, which was filmed in Spain, aims to increase pet rescue, rehabilitation and rehoming around the world. It will feature his training philosophy, a belief that every dog knows its place and follows rules set by the pack leader — in this case, a human such as an owner or a trainer.
His success hasn't been without critics. Bonnie Beaver, a board-certified veterinary behaviorist in Texas, said he mishandles animals and that he is losing credibility because "in some situations, he is actually making a diagnosis."
"He may not even recognize he is making a diagnosis," she said, adding that when he says a dog has separation anxiety or dominance problems, "he's putting a label on it and in reality that label is a diagnosis."
In California, that is legal, but in Texas it is not, she said, because "making a diagnosis and setting up a course of treatment is restricted to certain professionals."
Daniels dismissed the critics, saying that "few have ever spoken to him directly or taken the time to understand what he is all about — which is a man with a deep passion for helping animals and people."
That passion for animals — especially dogs — is evident. Millan said he's never met a dog he didn't like, and chose a canine as his lone companion for a hypothetical stranding on a deserted island.
He also defended his love for pit bulls, saying: "It's not the breed, it's the human behind the dog." Rehabbing dogs is easy, he said, but training people is not.
"A dog would never see me as a Mexican or immigrant or think things people say about me. Dogs don't rationalize. They don't hold anything against a person. They don't see the outside of a human but the inside of a human," he said.
But there are some times when he prefers people over animals. He was tactful when he said he had both a human and a canine best friend. And he was quick to say that he preferred the Super Bowl over the "Puppy Bowl," the Animal Planet's pet-friendly TV show that features puppies romping on a room-sized football field.
"I have a 'Puppy Bowl' every day," he explained.