Forty years ago today, the Space Shuttle Enterprise made its first flight, which was also the first flight of any Space Shuttle. There was no dramatic launch with smoke and flames and cheers from the crowd. Instead, it took off on the back of a special 747 from Edwards Air Force Base in California, and landed the same way.
It would be six months before the Enterprise detached from the airplane and landed on its own, but this shuttle itself would never make it into space. That doesn’t mean that it was a failure, though — and it’s also a good reminder for us in the search for balance with our dogs.
Even though the Enterprise never went into space, none of the other shuttles would have ever made it there without her — and the Enterprise would have never made it off of the ground without that airplane helping it.
Isaac Newton once said, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants,” which is a little ironic consider that Newton is the giant on whose shoulders all of modern physics — and space flight — rests. What he meant was that we build all of our achievements on the discoveries of those who’ve come before us — and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. It’s the human way and, if you think about it, it’s one of the few positive things that probably does distinguish humans from animals.
As I’ve mentioned many times over the years, everything I learned about animals I first learned from my grandfather, who learned it himself from his father and grandfather, and so on. I may have never met my great-great-great-grandparents, but I probably learned a thing or two that they passed on, and you’ve probably done the same.
When any of us first learns a new thing, we do it by standing on the shoulders of others, whether it’s with a teacher in person or by reading something — which was still written by at least one other person. And when we have trouble learning that thing or understanding the concept, there is absolutely no shame in reaching out for that little boost.
The person who never looks to someone else to learn what they don’t know will never get off of the ground with anything. And, even more so, we can learn the most ourselves when we are generous and share our knowledge with those who are trying to learn.
Here’s a little secret: While I’m teaching you how to make that connection with your dogs, I’m learning from you as well. I learn about people, and their challenges and successes, and how to be a better teacher myself. I learn about places and cultures and lifestyles I might not know anything about otherwise, and I learn that all of us, deep down inside, are the same despite all of our differences on the outside.
Not only are we all standing on the shoulders of a giant — we are all part of that giant, too. And that’s one of the biggest lessons that I learned while I was making my new TV series, “Cesar Millan’s Dog Nation” with my son Andre. You’ll be seeing it yourself in just under two weeks, and I think you’ll be as impressed as I was and still am.
Every person, in their own particular way, needs a giant to stand on, but is also a giant to someone else. To be fulfilled as humans, we need to be both.
Stay calm, and see farther!