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Remembering Daddy

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It's hard to believe that Daddy left us three years ago last week, and strange to realize that most of my current pack never met him. Coco, who's about 12 or 13, did and, of course, Daddy is the one who picked Junior as his successor.

Junior has grown into that role nicely, although on a Daddy scale of 1 to 10, I'd say that he's still about a six. Junior certainly has Daddy's sweetness and respectfulness, but he doesn't quite have Daddy's instinct yet for what I want him to do. I'm sure he'll get there, though. He's still young.

That was one of the most remarkable things about Daddy -- he always knew what I wanted him to do, without explanation. Even near the end, when he had bad hips and had been diagnosed with cancer, he was always on the job.

I remember one case with a dog named Viper, who was supposed to be trained as a K9 detection dog, to find illegal cell phones in prisons. However, Viper was afraid of people and would go into hiding at the first sign of strangers. Naturally, this would have made it impossible for him to do his job.

Daddy and I arrived at the house where Viper was in hiding, and all I had to do was let Daddy in the door. He went off on his own, found Viper, and brought him out. He never "asked" me what to do -- he just knew to do it, and he did. That was more than the humans around could do without a lot of questions: "Where's the dog?" "How do we get it out?" 'Is he scared?"

Daddy just knew. He was also an incredibly calm dog, a great ambassador for pit bulls everywhere, and he loved to be on stage with me. That's something Junior has inherited. When he hears the applause before a show, he's ready to rush out and take a bow. I have to hold him back until we get our cue.

Three years can be a very long time and a very short time. It seems like only yesterday that Daddy was with me. It seems like a hundred years that he's been gone. And yet, he is here with me, every day. I still receive tributes from his fans in the form of paintings, sculptures, t-shirts and more, and I love every single one of them. My office is decorated with all of your wonderful gifts, and someday I'll probably be able to open my own Daddy Museum, if I can find space for it.

I have found space in my house for Daddy's portrait, and we call it Daddy's Room. He watches over us from that picture, and it is definitely the calmest place in the house. If there is one legacy Daddy has left us all, it's the lesson we need to remember every day: Serenity is a gift that you cannot keep to yourself. Remain calm, and you, like Daddy, will always know exactly what to do.

In honor of our beloved Daddy, the Cesar Millan Foundation established the Daddy's Emergency Animal Rescue (DEAR) Fund. Donations made to the fund are used to provide assistance for dogs who are victims of abuse or violence and large-scale natural disasters (hurricanes, fires, and other natural catastrophes).