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Cesar and Kerry posing on her prayer car “Bessy.”

Spring began last Wednesday, and it definitely shows back home in Los Angeles. On Friday, when I was in Davenport Iowa, it wasn’t so spring-like — it was still in the 30s there. That’s a lot colder than what I was used to growing up in Mexico. The coldest it ever got there was 45 degrees.

It was actually a very interesting time to be in Iowa, but not because of the weather. It was because of the people I met, and the struggle they are going through. I was blessed with the opportunity to have lunch and speak with a group of people living with cancer at Gilda’s Club of Quad Cities, and I was blown away by the strength and courage of these people.

What struck me most was that, despite their dealing with a potentially fatal disease, there was just so much life in that room, and a determination to not quit. Yes, they have struggled with depression and they are all dealing with terrible pain; but they have not given up yet.

Life brings us seasons as well — high points and low points, from joyous summers to bleak winters. Sometimes, though, it takes a terrible winter to make us appreciate the return of spring. I know that feeling myself, and you’ve heard me talk about it before. When my personal winter came in 2010, I nearly gave up. Thank God I didn’t, because the spring and summer that came after are just fantastic.

There are two ways we can respond to a challenge: Submission or dominance. We can give up, say that it’s just too difficult, and not even try to face it. Or we can accept the challenge and throw everything we’ve got at it. Maybe we will overcome it. Maybe we will fail. But if we try to meet that challenge, with either outcome we grow.

One of the people I met in Iowa is Kerry Murray, who has battled with cancer not once but twice in her life. Both times, she faced the challenge, this second time by creating her own bucket list. Meeting me was one of the items on that list, and you’ll notice that she succeeded at it. But if she had never tried, it never would have happened.

The thing is, it shouldn’t take a major illness or a setback to get us to decide to face the challenge. Every day is full of little challenges, and with every one we have the choice: Give up, or give it all we’ve got. Being diagnosed with a terminal illness is probably the biggest challenge that any person can face, and it is incredibly inspiring to see the people who don’t give up.

It sort of makes dog problems seem trivial by comparison, doesn’t it? And yet, so many people submit in the face of a challenge with their dog, convincing themselves that they can’t fix it and then not even trying.

The seasons change on their own, but if we want to see a change in our dog’s behavior, then we have to step in and make it happen. My challenge to you this week is this: If your dog has a misbehavior, fix it. You’re not alone; just search the site here and you’ll probably find solutions. If your dog doesn’t have any misbehaviors, then your challenge is to teach her a new trick. You’ll be surprised how much you will learn — and grow — in the process.

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