An Evening with Cesar Millan and Texas Humane Heroes
Texas Humane Heroes (formerly Humane Society of Williamson County) was asked to be a part of Cesar Millan’s live show in Austin. He needed dogs with small, relatable behavioral issues that he could do demonstrations on during the show. After a few weeks of preparation and selecting dogs, it finally came together on January 27, 2012 at The Paramount Theatre in Austin. The following is a recollection of the “Evening with Cesar” written from the point of view of one of Texas Humane Heroes adoption counselors, Kylie Saurage:
After a few weeks of preparing, selecting dogs and me practicing staying calm, the big day arrived. That day, we cleaned, opened, adopted out dogs out like normal. Then when it got closer to go-time, we tested dogs and selected six of our most unruly pups. Loaded them, packed up and made sure we were looking darn good in our new Texas Humane Heroes staff shirts. We consisted of myself, Eran Fehily, Director of Community Relations & Development, Sean, Assistant Manager of the Kennel and Jacob, offsite-adoption counselor.
We arrived slightly early so we hung out in front of the Paramount, talking to random admirers of the dogs. Cesar’s crew arrived not long after and we were introduced to Todd, the producer. Todd led us into the back of the Paramount where we sat with all six dogs. While we were talking, Cesar walked in. I had to take a quick breath and focused on not screaming like a fan girl. We walked the dogs for him, trying to display their bad behaviors. Ironically, all the “behaviorally challenged” dogs thought it would be awesome to transform into angels at that point. Cesar remarked that we all walked very well with the dogs and even called Jacob “The Texas Whisperer.”
Cesar ended up selecting just one dog, Boris, to use for his show. We were a bit bummed because we couldn’t offer him two dogs with behavioral concerns such as pulling on the leash and toy/treat guarding as originally planned. Jacob took the 5 unselected dogs back to Texas Humane Heroes’ adoption center in Leander, and Eran went to grab a seat and to see if we could get another high-energy dog. Sean, Boris and I were shown to a dressing room right across from Cesar’s below the theater. We enjoyed some coffee and snacks while chatting up Cesar’s friendly, hard-working crew. Right before the show started, Gina brought us Wallaby to get Boris worked up.
The time eventually came to start the show and we were shown to our seats behind the stage to the left of the curtains. We could see the audience but they couldn’t see us. We watched Cesar and Junior, his main dog, pace back and forth behind the curtains as he mentally prepped to go on stage. The first half of the show went wonderfully. Cesar is such a natural on stage. At intermission, I was mic’d up and we tried to get Boris and Wallaby to be the high-energy, unruly doggies that we know them as. While waiting to go back on-stage, Cesar approached Sean and I and asked if we had seen the clip that was playing of him portrayed on South Park. I said I had in my psychology class which began a short, whispered conversation about the similarities in dog and human psychology. Cesar went back on-stage and both dogs began barking too loudly so Todd told us to go back to the dressing room. I waited nervously and Sean was as calm as if he did this every night. Suddenly, I was being summoned on stage hastily because the computer had crashed and things were a bit out of whack. I got back up to the stage and was told to walk on. I did and I couldn’t think of anything better to do than to smile and wave like I knew what I was doing. I heard cheering for Boris and myself and was comforted knowing that my Texs Humane Heroes family was there supporting me. Cesar asked me to explain Boris’s issues and to walk him across the stage. Boris, being a crazy spaz every other day of the year, walked flawlessly by my side and even stayed polite when Junior walked on stage. Cesar remarked that he was being such a good dog to which I remarked “Well…..you ARE the dog whisperer.” The crowd laughed, Cesar did some walking demonstrations with Boris and I was cued to exit. Next, Sean went on with Wallaby, who also unlike herself at the shelter, was immaculate on stage. Darn hyper dogs being good?
We watched the rest of the show from our VIP seating and when we were all back in the dressing rooms, Sean asked Todd if we could get a picture with him and Cesar. They obliged and we took several pictures with Cesar. We then wanted a picture with Todd and Cesar said “let me do! I am a fantastic photographer!.” We thanked him and thought that would be the last of our meeting but Cesar was so open and inviting, we ended up talking for a good while with him. We talked about psychology, dogs sensing heart rates, Sean’s degree and his hobbies. I joked about sorority posing, big Texas hair and BBQ. We discussed little dogs having Napoleon complexes, reality stars displaying animal behavior, people not connecting enough to the real world and his new book and show. The best thing he said to me was “everyone is an open book. You can learn something from everyone.” I’ve heard that before but hearing him say it, really made me believe it that much more.
Eventually, it was time for Cesar and his crew to go to wherever they were bound for next. We said goodbye and Cesar told me to say hello to my boyfriend for him.
Sean and I packed up, Todd helped carry our crates back to the van and we parted ways. On the ride back, we just sat there in giddy amazement. Even Sean let out a little excitement.
Needless to say, we will never forget that night.
Boris and Wallaby are still up for adoption and from this experience, I learned that not every so-called challenged dog will always be that way. Especially when you wish they would be!