“Dog Whisperer” Cesar Millan is living the American Dream.
The Mexico native said he crossed the border into the United States more than 20 years ago with just $100 and the desire to be the “greatest dog trainer in the world.”
“When I was 21 years old, on December 23rd I went to my mom again, ‘Mom, I’m leaving,’” Millan, 48, shared on Monday’s episode of “Red Table Talk.”
She wondered where he was going so close to the holiday and Millan responded, “I’m going to America … I have to go right now.”
“So my dad saved $100, he gave it to me. He put it in my sock and that’s all I had,” the famed animal trainer shared. “I took a bus. It took, like, two days to get there.”
Millan says things got scary when he finally reached the border and encountered people ready to take advantage of his desperation. He says there were people waiting to either kill him or sell him for organs. “Dead is more likely than jumping it,” he said of crossing the border. “It’s not a piece of cake. I’m respectful about it. I know I broke a boundary and a rule. But it was for a dream.”
After being apprehended on more than one occasion, Millan finally crossed the border and by chance met a guy who would lend a helping hand.
“The guy said to me, ‘I’ll charge you $100,’” Millan said. “That’s all I had. That’s a sign.” Millan said he trusted the man, who said he knew the path. The man was aware of all the potential obstacles, including when the border patrol changes.
“Finally, we cross and we get to the gas station. The guy says, ‘I’m going to get you a taxi. And the taxi is going to get you to San Diego.’” By this point, Millan was out of money. Fortunately, the stranger gave Millan a break and paid the taxi driver $20, keeping the remaining $80 as payment.
Once he arrived in Southern California, Millan immediately began searching for work. The reality-TV star says he found the Yellow Pages and called local kennels.
“I knew that I had to start at the bottom and cleaning kennels is not a problem. Those are the jobs, we immigrants we get,” he said.
But things didn’t last long at the bottom. He soon developed a dog-walking business in the Inglewood neighborhood of Los Angeles. He quickly developed a name for himself and the Los Angeles Times caught wind, which exploded his business.
And in 2009, he became a US citizen.
He also credits Jada Pinkett Smith, whom he’s known for 28 years, with helping him along his journey. He told her one day that he wanted to have his own television show, but that his English was limited. So, as a kind gesture, Pinkett Smith sent a tutor his way.
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