How Daddy Chose Junior By Cesar Millan
Every February 19th, I have moments of sadness, as it marks the anniversary that my pit bull Daddy passed away. I still miss him terribly but when I think of all the amazing times we had together and all the great things that he taught me, I realize how lucky I was to have had him in my life for so long. And when I look in Junior’s eyes, I think about the last gift Daddy gave to me.
I had never had a dog quite like Daddy. When my boys, Andre and Calvin, were little, I knew I could leave him to entertain them while I was busy; he helped teach Andre to walk. And when one of the boys fell down, Daddy would be right there, licking him and making sure he was okay.
Daddy as Friend, Mentor and Therapist
Daddy was everything that I could want: friend, dog, mentor, and therapist. My goal is always to stay centered, but that’s not always possible. I get stressed and emotional, but seeing Daddy as he stayed in the moment, reminded me of how beautiful things really are and got me back to where I should be. He was much wiser than I am when it comes to evaluating dogs—and people, too.
So you see I could never really replace him.
But Daddy was 15 and getting old, I’d known for a while that I would have to adopt another pit bull.
When the time came, I took Daddy along. Any newcomer in our house would first have to get Daddy’s approval. That’s how we wound up at the home of a friend whose female pit bull had given birth to a litter about two months earlier. One puppy, all gray with just a little dash of white on his chest, caught my attention immediately. Some people—the Dalai Lama, for instance—have this calm energy. So do some dogs. Daddy had it. And I quickly realized that this little gray puppy had it too. In fact, he reminded me of Daddy when he was a puppy.
So he’d passed the Cesar test—but would he pass the Daddy test? Daddy was already elderly, and older dogs sometimes just don’t want to deal with an energetic puppy. So I hesitated to stress him out with a young dog.
You can’t believe how well it went. The puppy immediately lowered his head, surrendering to the older dog, and allowed Daddy to smell him all over. Then, amazingly, he started following Daddy around. In a second, he had transferred his loyalty from his littermates and his mother to Daddy.
And Daddy accepted him. It was like Daddy was telling me, “He’ll be just as good as I was.” When I left my friend’s house, Daddy followed me—and the puppy followed Daddy.