For last Friday’s episode of “Dog Nation,” Andre and I went to San Francisco, which is an amazing place. It’s a bustling city that also feels like a small town, every corner is bursting with history, and, being surrounded by water on three sides, it still feels very connected to nature.

Of course, what really gives a city its flavor is the people in it, and San Franciscans are a unique breed. They are creative and resourceful, and they never give up. While the City by the Bay has a reputation for being cold and foggy, its people could not be warmer.

Andre told me something pretty profound about the experience. “I got to see the diverse culture and the amazing integration process that had taken place and how people have learned to adapt to what they have and make the most of it.” I know that he was as inspired by the people we met there as I was — but one of the things I’ve learned over the years and which I’m teaching my sons is this: It is very important to be able to find inspiration everywhere.

For me, this inspiration feeds what I call my “survival warrior,” which is something that we all have inside of us, whether we realize it or not. This is the instinctive part of us that gives us the will to keep on going, keep on living, and keep on striving. If there’s one thing the people of San Francisco excel at, it’s striving.

Probably the biggest inspiration of all, though, was a woman named Pali, who you got to meet in the episode. Now, her passion and her vocation are rescuing dogs, but she started out in a very different place. She was born to a homeless, drug-addicted mother and literally grew up with nothing.

She found her inspiration when she adopted a stray dog as a teenager — despite still not having a home. It was that dog that helped her turn her life around, giving her a will and a purpose. The dog returned the favor by eventually rescuing Pali from life on the streets.

Andre described it beautifully. “Dogs bring out something that is impossible for any human to bring out of another human. There are things a dog can do that a human cannot, which is incredible to see. When I see people who want to make a change but don’t have the right platform or tools to help them grow or get themselves out there, it’s amazing to see how all they need is a little motivation and a little push, and that push can be a dog.”

The moral of the story is that you can triumph and survive and make a difference, and even where nothing seems to be possible, miracles from love are created. We do keep coming back to that unconditional love that dogs have for us, don’t we?

Even I do it, as Andre reminded me, “At the weakest points of your life, you turned to your dogs to help you get out of your funk.”

That love dogs give us is one of their most powerful tools in making our lives better. As Andre describes it, “Instinctually, physically and mentally it changes the way you address or approach something.”

Part of the beauty of “Dog Nation” is getting to see those changes happen in people in real time, something that Andre describes as “unfathomable.” I call it miraculous. The real inspiration that keeps me striving is the look of absolute joy that just explodes from people’s faces in that instant when they get it and make the connection with their dog.

It’s a moment of mutual understanding between human and animal that our dogs are ready to share with us if we just take a moment to look, listen, and let their love work its miracles.

Stay calm, and get inspired!


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