In the world of dog training, you’d be hard-pressed to find a name more prominent than Cesar Milan. The world-renowned trainer wasn’t dubbed “dog whisperer” for nothing – he has published a best-selling book, starred in his own TV show, owns a line of dog products and instructional DVDS, and founded the Dog Psychology Center in California.
Adding to this impressive list is the reality show Cesar’s Recruit Asia, where Cesar himself hunts for the best dog trainer in Asia to join him in his mission to teach dogs and humans to live in harmony. Now on it’s much awaited second season, Cesar’s Recruit: Asia Season 2 has 10 promising dog trainers vying to be the next pack leader. If this wasn’t enough to be excited about, three of these dog-master hopefuls are none other than proud Pinoys. FOX+ spoke to these contestants to know more about them.
1. Gen Reyes
Gen may be an amateur dog trainer, but don’t let her inexperience fool you. This adventurous and free-spirited stunt double won’t back down from any challenge and has proven to be a fast-learner who is skilled with dogs. A self-taught trainer, Gen’s story about how she honed her skills is one that many young dog owners might relate to.
“I was one of those young dog owners who wanted a dog for companionship. But I also wanted to prove to [my parents] that I could raise a well-behaved dog because otherwise my parents wanted to give the dog away. I just felt that I wanted to be responsible for it,” Gen shared.
After others noticed how well-trained her dog was, Gen started getting invited to give talks and dog demos at events, where she eventually got the suggestion to join Cesar’s Recruit Asia.
“I thought might as well try it after much encouragement from different people,” Gen said. “And I really wanted to learn more and not get stuck doing the same techniques. I also decided to go for it even if it was scary – because even you fail, you’ll still learn from it. You won’t really grow if you stay in your comfort zone.”
2. Lestre Zapanta
Arguably the most well-known from the three Filipino contestants, Lestre has already made a name for himself in the Philippine dog-training scene. Known as the ‘Pinoy dog whisperer’, he has been featured on TV shows, radio shows, and has over 200,000 online followers.
Lestre’s love for dogs started at a very young age and was sparked by his grandfather.
“When I was 13, I asked my grandfather to get me a dog. The first dog I got was a black Labrador who was already about a year-old, bites people, kills cats, and was angry at other dogs, angry at other animals, and very noisy and possessive,” Lestre shared. “So I went to my grandfather and asked him ‘why would you give a 13-year-old a dog like that?’ and my grandfather said ‘If you can’t tame that dog, you can’t own a dog for your entire life,’” And because of this, Lestre started learning how to be patient in order to train and understand his new pet.
“I was thinking: I can never own a dog for my entire life if I can’t make this one well-behaved! So that’s how my grandfather taught us – through learning it by [ourselves].“ And this mission to help his first pet led Lestre on what would be a lifelong and incredibly successful passion for dog training.
3. Jerry Lakandula
This 44-year-old former fitness trainer turned to dog training because of truly inspiring and moving reasons. After being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, Jerry found new hope and purpose in rescuing and rehabilitating dogs – out of his 25 canines, around 15 are rescued and reformed dogs.
But just like many of us, Jerry’s love for dogs started even when he was very young. “I honor my grandmother on my mother’s side – I owe her my animal lover side,” Shared Jerry, whose love extends to all animals as well. “Even in school, I would rescue ducks and chickens.” He said.
Jerry, who is known for using the Power of the Pack when dealing with dogs, wants to take it beyond just dog-training at home, but even to reforms in dog shelters. His goal is to include dog training in TESDA and even including time at the dog shelter or dog training as part of inmate rehabilitation.
“Just like we give dogs a second chance, we give these people a second chance.” Jerry said. It’s clear that the incredible heart and passion Jerry puts into rescuing and rehabilitating dogs has given him very moving and important goals to achieve.
Curious to know if our Filipino representatives can make it all the way and be Cesar’s new recruit? Be the first to catch the next episode of Cesar’s Recruit Asia, all through the convenience of your mobile device. Just download and subscribe to FOX+ to instantly be updated on all of the new episodes, plus get access to all of your other favorite shows and movies.
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