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8 powerful lessons about love, life, and self-care from a talking dog on TV.

'Downward Dog' is a delightful, must-watch show with a powerful message.

There are lots of life lessons we can learn from our four-legged friends — but ABC's "Downward Dog" takes it to the next level.

"Downward Dog" is a heart-meltingly cute show that premiered earlier this year about a woman named Nan and her dog, Martin. Each episode centers on Martin as he learns a bit about himself and the world around him. Oh, and he can talk — at least in the "breaking the fourth wall" way (meaning he doesn't talk to Nan, but he does talk to the audience in a hilarious, droll voiceover), narrating his journey.

Allison Tolman (who plays Nan) and Ned (who plays Martin). Photo courtesy of ABC.


Cuteness aside, there are some phenomenally simple, beautiful, and relatable life lessons peppered throughout the first season.

Even if you haven't watched the show (which you totally should), the observant Martin gives some incredible advice on how to confidently navigate this world — especially on the tough days.

Here are eight of those totally awesome moments of self-love and acceptance.

1. It's OK to communicate your needs in a relationship. In fact, it's really, really important.

The pilot episode focuses on Martin and Nan's relationship. As Nan struggles with some trouble in her love life and a boss who just doesn't get it, Martin feels a bit neglected but realizes that maybe he's not just communicating his needs especially well.

“I don’t think Nan has any idea how packed my days are. I actually have a lot to accomplish. For one thing, the fact that I need 14 hours of sleep is not something I should have to feel bad about. Sleep is the foundation of a productive day."
— Martin

[rebelmouse-image 19529291 dam="1" original_size="450x241" caption="All GIFs from "Downward Dog"/ABC." expand=1]All GIFs from "Downward Dog"/ABC.

2. Get out of your comfort zone.

Rules are important, but it's OK to challenge yourself by trying new things.

When Martin gets a new collar-activated doggy door, he makes that all-too-common mistake of letting his newfound power — being able to go outside on his own — get to his head. From there, he pushed the rules.

"I thought there was a path laid out for me. I was supposed to walk when Nan and Jason said, like some passive supplicant thankful for any walk at all, but I see it now. There isn't a path. There aren't any boundaries. I can go wherever I want. I'm the one in charge."

3. Don't write people off as being either purely "good" or "bad" — especially yourself. Life's more complicated than that.

Martin struggles with his own feelings of loyalty to Nan during the show's third episode and begins to wonder whether wanting to play with others makes him a bad dog. But maybe there's no such thing as a "good dog" or "bad dog" at all.

"Sometimes, I think people get caught up in believing you're either good or bad and that it's black or white, loyal or disloyal — but I think that's kind of maybe reductionistic."

4. You don't need to be perfect, even in the eyes of someone you love.

After struggling during a training session with another dog, Martin finds himself feelings really low, his confidence shot. He's worried he's not good enough for Nan, but it turns out that you don't need to be "the full package." When someone loves you, they love you. Near the end of the episode, Nan comes to Martin's defense.

(And OK, this is a quote from Nan, not Martin. But it reflects how they feel about each other!)

"Martin is my dog, OK, and I really don't care if he's, like, the best-trained dog, and I don't even care if he craps on the floor now and then. I just want him to be happy."

5. Don't be afraid to love the things that make you weird.

While Nan is, in Martin's words, "uptight and pious" for not liking trash, Martin knows what he likes and is unapologetic about it.

"I'm just edgier and less ruled by societal norms. For instance, part of me has always just really, really liked trash. Just, getting into it. And I actually like that about myself."

6. Hiding who you are isn't good for you or the world.

Martin is tired of holding back his love for trash.

"I'm tired of hiding who I am. By living in the shadows, I've actually been buying into her puritanical narrative that trash is bad and unhealthy and shameful. I'm not hiding anymore. There's a big, beautiful, trashy world out here, and I'm gonna taste every fetid, moldy scrap of it."

7. It's OK to be scared of growing up.

Martin doesn't like puppies. His reason, however, doesn't have anything to do with puppies, and a lot more to do with himself and his own fears.

"Maybe I'm not so chill about getting older, OK? That puppy has his youth, he has his beauty, he has a whole lifetime of toys in front of him — and this could be one of the last toys I ever get."

8. Don't take yourself too seriously.

The season finale is about Martin coming to grips with the fact that maybe he's not always going to be the most impressive dog in the world, and maybe he's not as cool as he thinks he is. Maybe he's just a silly dog, and maybe that's OK.

Hodges, Tolman, and Ned. Photo courtesy of ABC.

It's that lesson that resonated the most with Samm Hodges, the show's co-creator and voice of Martin.

"I think for me, it was a trick of the ego," he says, explaining there were times when people would zone out upon hearing that this exciting new project he was working on was about a talking dog. "They just kind of judge you for it. I think ... that [lesson] speaks a lot to me."

Some of life's most important lessons are also the most simple, and that's what "Downward Dog" is all about.

It's easy to overthink things and overcomplicate things. But that thing you've been stressing out about is going to turn out OK. You don't have the answers to everything. You don't need to be perfect.

Be you. Try your best. Be kind. Share a little hope with others.

Every day is a new chance to grow as a person, to learn something new, and to make your own impact on the world. This heartwarming little show and its lead pup are there to help remind us what really matters.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

A simple solution for all ages, really.

School should feel like a safe space. But after the tragic news of yet another mass shooting, many children are scared to death. As a parent or a teacher, it can be an arduous task helping young minds to unpack such unthinkable monstrosities. Especially when, in all honesty, the adults are also terrified.

Katelyn Campbell, a clinical psychologist in South Carolina, worked with elementary school children in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting. She recently shared a simple idea that helped then, in hopes that it might help now.

The psychologist tweeted, “We had our kids draw pictures of scenery that made them feel calm—we then hung them up around the school—to make the ‘other kids who were scared’ have something calm to look at.”



“Kids, like adults, want to feel helpful when they feel helpless,” she continued, saying that drawing gave them something useful to do.

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Alberto Cartuccia Cingolani wows audiences with his amazing musical talents.

Mozart was known for his musical talent at a young age, playing the harpsichord at age 4 and writing original compositions at age 5. So perhaps it's fitting that a video of 5-year-old piano prodigy Alberto Cartuccia Cingolani playing Mozart has gone viral as people marvel at his musical abilities.

Alberto's legs can't even reach the pedals, but that doesn't stop his little hands from flying expertly over the keys as incredible music pours out of the piano at the 10th International Musical Competition "Città di Penne" in Italy. Even if you've seen young musicians play impressively, it's hard not to have your jaw drop at this one. Sometimes a kid comes along who just clearly has a gift.

Of course, that gift has been helped along by two professional musician parents. But no amount of teaching can create an ability like this.

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