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Fur Mom Confessions | I’m a Dog Fancy Cesar’s Way Sell Out

Through the Lens of Kimberly Gauthier

I received a not so nice email from someone who felt that my mention of Cesar Milan in a positive light, well, sucked.  I completely understand where they’re coming from, because he has a bad reputation in some circles.  I don’t follow Cesar Milan’s training methods, but I wasn’t writing about his training, I was sharing that he’s saved dogs’ lives – something that I admire and appreciate.

I didn’t let the email get to me, because I do appreciate that I have readers that come from all walks of life and have different belief and value systems.  It’s because of you guys that I’m rockin’ it as a dog mom and pet blogger.  I count on others to share their point of view to help me expand my own.

So when I was flipping through an issue of Dog Fancy magazine, excitedly looking for my name, I saw that they have advertisements for dog breeders.

Uh oh.

Here’s the mantra…

  • Not all dog breeders are backyard breeders.
  • Plenty of reputable breeders advertise; I know lots of dog parents who drove hours to Eastern Washington, Idaho, Oregon and California to pick up their new puppy.
  • Not all dog breeders are bad.

Even with this repeating in my head, I still had that icky feeling, because I thought about a local breeder who is single handedly giving all reputable breeders a bad name.  She’s spent time in jail, she’s been fined up the ying-yang, and she’s still in business.  This is who I thought of when I saw the advertisements.

But then I thought of something else.

Maybe someone reading Dog Fancy will ready my name, will see “Keep the Tail Wagging,” and will like it enough to visit this site.  And here, they’ll learn about the wonders of dog rescue.  They’ll read articles by Amanda and understand what a reputable breeder is all about.  They’ll read articles by Gayle and want to adopt a blind or deaf dog.  They’ll read articles by me and Alycia and think that a multi-dog household is amazing.  They’ll read articles by Joan and feel better prepared to work with their dog on training.

Dog Fancy, Keep the Tail Wagging

Maybe being in Dog Fancy magazine isn’t being a sell out; maybe it’s showing people a different way.  Maybe when those same people scroll through the ads for breeders, they’ll have a list of questions to ask to determine if they’re speaking with a reputable breeder.


  1. I’m starting to think that you really can’t win. There’s always someone who has something negative or critical to say about something, no matter what it’s about. I’m sure I’m guilty of doing it myself. I’m sure someone could find something negative to say about Mother Theresa, even. And for whatever reason, I think the animal welfare community is the worst about it (although, apparently, the mommy community is pretty judgmental, too I hear).

    • I hear ya, Rebecca

      It cracks me up when I get an email or comment from someone who disagrees with me. What’s fascinating is that people who take the time to read what I have to say, tend to disagree in a more constructive “have you thought of this angle?” type of way. Others who disagree rudely tend to read a title and nothing more and go on the attack.

  2. Seriously, people need to stop being so judgmental about other people’s opinions! I know CM is a polarising figure amongst dog people – some people love him & others detest him, that’s their choice and what works for them.

    I don’t know Dog Fancy magazine, but am pretty sure that it is a publication that only wants the best for our canine kids. And as you say, Kimberley, if people find out the joys of animal rescue via the mag then that is just brilliant. Maybe some people will consider rescue rather than a pet shop puppy (and I’m not talking about reputable breeders, I mean puppies which are only seen as a commodity) then isn’t that a great thing? Or maybe the magazine may teach people what they need to know to identify a good breeder.

    The more people putting out good information on how to enhance dogs lives are doing good things in my book.

    • Thank you, Elle – I agree 100%

      What you shared it exactly why I blog. To be another voice out there that helps people make good decisions based on my own experience. :)

  3. I don’t see finding redeeming qualities in Cesar Milan or appearing in Dog Fancy as making you a “sell out”. I don’t necessarily agree with Cesar’s training methods, but he has done a lot to help increase awareness about pit bulls – and that’s a good thing.

    Dog Fancy may attract individuals who are interested in buying a purebred dog, but not all purebred dogs come from puppy mills. People need to do their homework when it comes to purchasing a dog. Visit the breeder – don’t purchase from a pet store or over the internet. And consider getting your purebred dog from a rescue organizations – that’s a real win-win!

    • You made a really great point, Vicki

      Many reputable breeders told me that they’re also involved in rescue too and that’s something we can look for when searching for a great breeder.

  4. Cesar Milan has got a bad reputation over in the UK because of his so called training methods and they prefer Victoria Stilwel’s methods, what i can’t understand is there both totaly different when did Cesar Milan become a dog trainer I’ve always thought of him as a behaviourist who rehabilitates dogs a trainer teaches obedience 2 totaly different fields.

    If he was as bad as peole say he is why is his pack so well behaved and he takes Junior with him and used to use the late Daddy to help him who are both pitbulls so anything that portrays pitbulls in a good light has got to be a good thing, people seem to forget how many dogs would of lost there lives without his help.

    If he was as bad as people say he is how come he’s still on telly working and no one’s sued him, I know if he mistreated Sheba i would spread the word around and made sure everybody knew abut it and take him to court for cruelty.

    I’d say he’s probably his own worst enemy and is guilty of not moving with the times and changing his ways. I believe in positive reinforcement but I don’t think that would work with an out of control pitbull that wanted to rip my throat out, in a lot of cases he’s peoples last chance the difference between rehabilitation and eauthanisia.

    And he does a lot of good promoting pitbulls and raising awareness of puppy farms.

    ps. Sorry about the essay.

    • I’m not sorry, Ian – I love the essay! You hit on some amazing points and I appreciate the contribution! Thank you.

  5. A good message printed in a bad book read by many is far more positive than a good message in a great book read by none….

    Sellout? I think not…..

    It’s more of an accomplishment to get a message of substance out there to anybody who can read it. Those who would judge you for being in the magazine quite frankly, aren’t ready to evolve yet anyway, they have far too many other personal challenges to overcome….

    Great job getting out there!

    • Thanks, KD

  6. What is it Lincoln said: “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”.

    Truer words were never spoken, so the important thing is to please yourself (and the three furbabies of course). Pay no mind to the naysayers – I say good on you to getting in the pub and helping spread the word. I too think Cesar has his good and bad points – let’s celebrate the good!

  7. Agree with everyone. Yes, you’re getting a positive message out to a wide audience and possibly influencing behavior for the good. No harm in that. Well done. :-)

  8. This is one of the big problems about sending such a message someone is it immediately puts many on the defensive, and essentially achieves nothing in the end. Will it convert the person, or push them more firmly in their belief? Nope. Regardless of what side anyone is on, no matter if there’s proof to go with the anger.

    It’s a problem I’ve witnessed and experienced in many areas of advocacy, training, and anything else with passion involved. I think it’s so important to step back from the passion or “personal situation” and look at whatever the topic or issue is with logic. That’s entirely possible in training, shelters, and breeders… because science and statistics are also involved. Are some of Cesar’s methods harmful? Sure, evidence of that. Do others work? Yep, evidence of that too. We can look to a lot of science and stats about particular training methods, and why they do and don’t work (of course – lots of that gets muddled with the great variety of dogs and trainers we have too!) Same with breeding (stats can be pulled about why dogs enter shelters, what techniques get them out, and so on and so forth). And what’s funny is almost all of these have pros and cons when looking at all the facts. Even the gloriously evil I’m sure does one or two things right, somewhere. Trust me, I’d back that statement up with facts if this were the appropriate space.

    Lead with facts, keep an open mind, understand the “other side”, and leave anything personal or judgmental at the front door – follow up with an honest personal story if needed, but for heavens sake keep that mind open. Only then does a person have even a remote chance at drawing others from the other side to your own. Or so I believe.

    But sending voracious, demeaning, judgmental, or just plain rude messages will not help the cause at hand. It will further polarize the two parties even further in most cases.

    If I could choose for anything I say to “make it” in the dog world, it’d be something like that… because I believe it is things like this (demonstrated by that email you received, Kimberly) that are causing a bulk of the problems we face. Logic. I needs to be about logic, numbers, and facts first. Passion second. And it never requires a picture of a dead animal. Period.

    Boy this feels like it should be a blog post with a whole lot of supporting evidence so it doesn’t seem more hypocritical than it might already be (I say without proofing and hitting Submit with fingers firmly crossed)!

    • Just a quick note regarding the above comment, after the word “evil” I put in brackets “insert famed corporate animal org currently suing advocate commenters here”. Should have anticipated it might get stripped out due to my poor choice of angle brackets :)

  9. I don’t think Cesar Milan is an evil person… lol… I used to read Dog Fancy magazine when I was a little kid, so I do remember all the breeder ads. Of course, back then I didn’t really know as much as I do now. Just because you’re in there and so are they, I don’t think people will see it as a connection.

  10. Kimberly,
    As always, I do enjoy your refreshing and candid way of speaking! As someone here has already said, sometimes you just can’t win. And you sure can’t please everyone. I thought your articles were right on the money and what’s wrong with finding something positive in Cesar’s work? It does not mean you agree with anything, it means you are being practical (and insighful)as well as gracious in your feedback. I am also not a big fan of his training methods but I too can support his championing the cause for animal rescue and increased education and responsible pet ownership.

    As for Dog Fancy, why not use that venue to promote awareness of what you do? As a pet parent of 3 purebreddogs I know firsthand that not all dog breeders are criminals. For heaven’s sake, let’s not lose sight of the fact that people have been (and still are) breeding responsibly for many years. We need to continue the fight to shut down the inhumane ones and support those who go about the business correctly.

    I appreciate your willingness to speak out on these subjects. Never be swayed by misguided opinions, always stick to what your heart tells you is so!

    • Thanks, Cathleen.

  11. Hi to all and thanks for another interesting blog, Kimberly!

    As English is not my mother tongue I have a few problems with the expression “backyard breeder”.

    What is a backyard breeder? The word backyard is normally associated with something positive, relaxation, beautiful flowers, etc.

    Why do I get the feeling that a backyard breeder is something negative?

    Please enlighten me!

    • Thanks for asking. A backyard breeder is someone who breeds dogs with no real experience in choosing good matches, making sure that the dogs hips/eyes/etc are tested and certified. In my area, backyard breeders are people who either never fixed their dogs and ended up with puppies that they sell on the side of the road OR people who didn’t fix their dogs and agreed to make puppies with a friend or neighbor to sell on the side of the road. They don’t have contracts, do home checks with potential families, and they don’t work in dog rescue.

      Some states have a bigger problem with them than others; I feel bad for reputable breeders, because they’re compared to irresponsible breeders all the time.

      • Thank you Kimberly!

        It was simply irritating, because for me a good breeder has to rear his puppies within range of vision and within earshot. So rearing them inside the house and in the backyard is preferred than having them somewhere in a barn.

        I would call the “breeders”, you describe in your area, irresponsible dog producers. Then there are bad breeders who offer their dogs only half of what they need and have way to much litters, and there are reputable breeders.

      • And don’t forget backyard breeders usually equals puppy mills. I can’t say all, simply because I don’t them all. But I’ve seen enough in animal news to know that back yard breeders/puppy mills not only have all those issues you mention above, Kimberly, but also they tend to keep the dogs and puppies locked in cages, don’t clean them and many get completely neglected.

        If not bought as puppies, they are kept to live their days out in those cages, never getting the love and attention they need. They get dirty, full of mats and lose their teeth.

        Many go hungry, have access to only dirty water and are kept in direct contact with the elements. Females are bred over and over and over again. And that is their poor little life until they die. No dog should have that many litters. It is ridiculously cruel in those places.

        It’s a sad state of affairs and Pennsylvania (my home state) is one of the worst as far as I know. And I cry when I see the ASPCA or Humane Society go in to do raids and rescues. My tears are both out of sadness that any of them had to live a minute in that squalor and joy that they are being rescued and many will now be adopted out to loving forever homes.

        You speak about passion…that is a topic I am very passionate about. I’d like to see puppy mills become EXTINCT!

        • I’m right there with you. There’s a local woman who runs a puppy mill that they finally shut down; she doesn’t think she’s doing anything wrong. I think she’s disgusting. I imagine that she’ll move away, because her neighbors and others in the community have made it clear that she is not welcome. Her life sucks right now and I think it should.

          • Hi Kimberly-
            Just curious, who shut her down? Were the dogs and pups taken to a shelter for care?

            Sad thing about her, is even if she does move, she will start her thing wherever she goes!

            Unfortunately the only thing we humans can do (as a whole) is stop buying pet store pets and definitely stop going to these backyard breeders/mills and buying from them.

            And then people like us who know the deal can educate others who don’t. I was actually surprised to see the question asking what a backyard breeder. But it’s good to know also, that people still need to be educated and enlightened on the reality. Once educated though, all we can do is leave people to make up their own minds.

            It’s such a double edged sword too. Because those dogs and puppies deserve a loving home like any other dog from a rescue, legit pound or reputable breeder.

            As I said in my previous post, it’s a very sad state of affairs. Laws are set state by state and even if laws are in place, this is an issue that often gets pushed to the back burner. There’s no money in it for the lawmakers to care.

            • The county shut her down. There were a few news reports exposing her. Apparently she was fined and did jail time, got out and started up again, but started advertising online instead of locally. I believe the authorities have raided her place a couple of times and rescue groups have taken her puppies,but I don’t know the full story. It’s so frustrating to me that I can’t follow it anymore. I think you’re right, she’ll just move and set up shop some place else. The money is too good and her heart is too cold for her to stop.

              • I think there are a few camps or “personas” of people making dogs that some may consider “backyard breeder” – but they fall somewhere into the picture perhaps between “traditional” breeder and backyard. One is a real problem, and in my opinion the other two are not. Responsibility is really the key word in however a dog comes to life.

                1) The person who has an unaltered dog who wants puppies from her because they would be “cute” and “want to see what they’re like”. This person has no plans on what they’ll do with the puppies after they’re born. Often this person has no concern about the temperament or health of the parents, thus risking propagating problems in the puppies. This is a real problem, I think tons of dogs like this end up at the shelter door in a box or otherwise abandoned.

                2) The person who has an unaltered dog, but is very aware of its health and temperament. This dog is a testament to a good gene pool and upbringing, and the owner knows of another great specimen of dog who would be a good match – of any breed. They are usually quite dog-savvy, and know of homes for all the puppies (or will keep the dogs until they find them). They are casual backyard people, but know dogs, know that they’re creating good ones that will all have homes. I don’t think this is much of a problem (no different than responsible breeder, really – but no organization or “breed” around it so it does technically fall in the camp of “backyard” breeding in a way).

                3) Sport dog people, a new one I’ve learnt about. There is often “informal” breeding going on to specifically have great sport dogs – dogs who are motivated and want to be part of a sport, built like an athlete, will fit well into a team, activity, etc (agility, flyball, sprint, whatever). They are all guaranteed homes before they’re even born, pretty much. I saw line-ups for these dogs. But it’s very informal, or organized within a tight knit group of people and only available to that tight knit group. Although not breeders, they are very educated and from what I saw incredibly dedicated to these dogs (who will end up having a fantastic life doing something they’re built to adore). I don’t see this as a problem, either. None of these dogs would end up at a shelter.

                • I’ve recently been introduced to the sporting dog group and I’m astounded by how they treat their dogs and breed their dogs. It’s not something I would have considered as traditional breeding, but it should definitely be looked to as an example of responsible breeding.

                  • Yes – the dog sport community is simply amazing (I’m quite new to it). Great people, and the dogs are so happy doing what they love. My dog is over the moon with any sport, it’s really a certain kind of dog. And a certain kind of human too (obsessed with their dog and the activity).

                    Some of the dogs “created” for teams are stunning examples of the canine species. Our team sat next to these guys at a recent tournament, – absolutely amazing dogs/team, bred completely for temperament and athleticism as opposed to looks (check out the videos!). If everyone bred for temperament and health instead of looks, our world would be a better place (and the shelters might be empty).

  12. As far as Cesar goes, maybe someone can enlighten ME on why he is so controversial. I have only been exposed to him through Nat Geo. And like any TV show, I know there are lots of edits so we don’t see a lot of what took place, etc.

    I’ve always liked his way of training or rehabbing or whatever it’s considered…at least what I’ve seen that is. I have been a bit confused as to what some consider his tactics to be abusive. Is it that he nudges a dog to get them to snap out of something they’re focused on?

    Hey Kimberly…maybe you could do a post on the pros and cons of “Cesar’s Way.” I would seriously like to be educated in how you fully see it.

    But I’d also be interested in hearing from others here. Thanks.

    • Great question and great idea about an article, Laura

      From what I’ve heard, he’s abused dogs and that there were dogs hurt (one allegedly killed) on his set. I’ve heard that there’s proof, but I’ve yet to see it or read it. I try to focus on the good in everyone. If he has hurt dogs, I hope that he’s learned a valuable lesson from the experience. I find it hard to comprehend that he could hurt animals on his set and no one know about it – someone told me that it’s because everyone signs a non disclosure agreement, but when it comes to my dogs, I would be happy to be sued while I blow the lid off of a dangerous show and person.


  13. I’ve never heard of Cesar Milan before. Is he famous?

    • Yes, very famous and very polarizing. Some love him, some hate them. I try to stay on the fence so that I can better see both sides :)


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