Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

If It Wasn’t This July 31, 2013

I don’t get it. Car rides are joyous occasions. More often than not, the journey leads to exciting destinations. Not today.

Today I witnessed something terrible from my perch in the passenger seat. Today I witnessed death. There I was, safe and secure in my one of my happiest places, and there it was. I counted three mangled cars, and watched in horror as two people and a little person were carried away in beds with wheels. There was a Disney Princesses backpack in the road. Everything about the scene broke my little doggie heart.

As we pulled away, I listened as mom said a prayer for all those involved as well as their families. And we didn’t make it to the dog park. It took five times the normal amount of time to get there because of the accident (and no, it wasn’t just my perception of time moving at a snail’s pace) and mom had to get home to fix dinner.

Drive safely

I didn’t mind going home. I don’t recall ever seeing something like that before, and I was truthfully a little shook by it all. “It really puts things into perspective, doesn’t it Wiley?” mom said to me as she filled my bowl with kibble later. “Had I gotten home from work a few minutes sooner, that could have been us.”

It all reminded me of a line from a favorite flick of mine called Elizabethtown. “If it wasn’t this, it would be something else.” Talk about perspective. It’s so easy for me to think the world is coming to an end when I can’t remember where I “buried” Mrs. Prickles for the night. Or when mom comes home an hour or two later than usual. But really it’s not. Really it could be so much worse.

And it was worse – a lot worse – for that little person whose backpack I saw in the street. Mom followed the news of the crash and told dad the whole story over dinner. The little girl died. She will never wear her Disney Princesses backpack again. It makes me want to cry people tears just thinking about it.

Instead I will remember that if it wasn’t this, it would be something else. Mom was incredibly frustrated when she got home from that place called work later than usual. But I’m happy it happened. If it wasn’t this it would be something else. I could have been in a car crash today. A few minutes earlier and I would have been. And my mom would have been too. I shudder to think of what could have happened.

I realize now that it isn’t (always) the destinations that make car rides such a happy thing for me. I don’t even mind waiting patiently in the car while mom runs errands (which sounds exhausting to me anyway). My people are my world, and when they take me with them on people adventures I get the impression the feeling is mutual.  Car rides are joyous for me because of who I’m with, not where I’m going. Today I’m grateful for this and nothing else.

 

How Are You Really? July 30, 2013

I’m not proud to admit this but I sent Mrs. Prickles to the emergency room recently.

One minute I was nursing on her as usual, and the next minute I couldn’t keep myself from tearing the little white fluff balls out of her. Both are instinctual behaviors for me, yet I was surprised to find myself enjoying the task of removing fluff balls. Several of the other members who make up my comfort circle have similar holes in them that I leave alone. So why now did I find myself losing control?

Truth be told, I don’t know what happened. And I think that happens sometimes. We get so caught up in something it kind of takes over our motor functions until someone brings us back to reality. I didn’t want to hurt Mrs. Prickles. I didn’t mean to. But I did.

 

It makes me stop and think about how I see people interacting with one another. With everything going on in people’s lives it can be so easy to get caught up in things and not pay attention to what is happening around you. It brings to mind a commonplace people conversation I have overheard one too many times. Person one asks person two how they are. Person two responds with a generally generic answer like super, swell, good or (on occasion) terrible. Person two then turns the question back to person one. How are you? Sometimes the conversation continues, sometimes not.Thinking of You

What bothers me about this interaction is that it always seems to me to be on autopilot. Just like me and Mrs. Prickles. The people are (more often than not) just having the conversation to be polite and really neither person cares all that much about how the other person is doing. Not really. So why do we ask the question?

Why did I start uncontrollably taking fluff balls out of one of my favorite toys? It’s in our nature. Something in my nature (that I don’t particularly care to embrace or understand) encouraged me to rip Mrs. Prickles (who I happen to love) to pieces. Something in people nature makes them feel the need to start conversations in which their heart isn’t invested.

And I’m not saying these are bad things. Without our nature we wouldn’t be who we are, after all. But I am in the business of challenging what’s easy. Mrs. Prickles is all fixed now, no thanks to me. (I’m going to do what I can to keep it that way). I have, after all, also seen the polite “how are you” question develop into much deeper people conversations. So maybe its worth it to take life off autopilot every once in a while.

 

Rainbows of the Heart July 29, 2013

There are those who believe dogs cannot see rainbows. Then there is me, and I’m here to tell you we can. Sure, they may not be quite as vibrant and fabulous as what people see but they are still visible to us.

In actuality colorblindness isn’t all that bad. We can see the color spectrum; we just struggle with certain (albeit important) colors like red and yellow. But it doesn’t matter that our real-life rainbows look more brown and blue than red and purple. We don’t need to see all of the colors to appreciate their significance. Opinions vary from person to person, but I’m a believer in the theory that rainbows signify a promise. Storms happen in all areas of life, sometimes when we least expect it. But the rainbow always follows, carrying with it a promise of renewal. A promise of safety. A promise of peace.Singing in the Rainbows

I saw a different kind of rainbow today. It happened when I met Winston (the terrier mix) and Mallory (his two-legged best friend) at the dog park. Mom was kind enough to arrange the meeting in response to an email I received recently asking if I would be interested in guest blogging for the local chapter of the American Red Cross. (It is my understanding this is the place called work for Mallory). They have been wanting to integrate some dog-friendly information, and hoped to do so with a new voice.

Well, to say this new voice is excited is definitely an understatement. But excited isn’t the only thing I feel after our meeting. I feel like I came face to face with a completely different kind of rainbow. Not the physical kind that little people watch for in the sky after a downpour. The kind that originates in the heart.

While the Red Cross focuses on proactivity and preparedness, most people are more familiar with their responses to disaster. To the shocking aftermath. To devastation. And rightly so, if you consider the staggering numbers of people that the Red Cross has assisted. In the ten minutes it takes to read this blog post, 2500 people were assisted by the Red Cross*. Two thousand five hundred people who have encountered various types of disasters. Helped in life-changing ways. In ten minutes.

I’m no stranger to emotional disaster. Maybe that’s why I like rainbows so much. So I don’t agree with those who believe dogs cannot see rainbows. Indeed red is one of the colors us canines struggle to identify, but that doesn’t mean we don’t recognize a rainbow when we see it. Today I saw the rainbows the Red Cross brings into the previously stormy lives of others. Rainbows of renewal, safety and peace. And I was inspired. It didn’t rain today. There wasn’t a rainbow in the sky. Instead there was a rainbow in my heart.

*Statistics obtained from http://redcrosssewiblog.org/

(This is also the blog to which I will soon be contributing. Check it out!)

 

So Happy Together July 28, 2013

I don’t understand why people call cell phones smart. The way I see it, they distract more than they connect. They take people away from the company they’re with to a cyber place with people somewhere else. And (perhaps most importantly) they detract from my favorite time of day: family time.Family Time Please

It doesn’t happen often, but it did tonight. There we were in the living room. Together. But separate. Mom and dad both were playing around with these so-called Smartphones. I don’t know what they were doing that was so important, but it doesn’t matter to me. Sunday nights are not for cell phones. They are for family time. So I did what any dog would do: I shut that technology party down.

And it was far from easy. In addition to every single one of my toys (which I still don’t understand why dad insists on putting into a basket), I brought out some of my best tricks. I sat and stared at dad. I jumped at him. I pawed at his foot. Nothing. I stared at mom. I jumped at her. I pawed at her foot. Nothing.

Well, not exactly nothing – my mom confused all of my purposeful shenanigans as a desire to be let outside. I dutifully went outside, did my business and then scratched at the door to be let back inside so I could resume my mission. I would not be ignored. Persistence and patience paid off about fifteen minutes later when I finally succeeded in luring them both into a game of pickle in the middle.

This is a favorite game of theirs and (in spite of how frustrating it can be to always play the role of pickle) it is a favorite of mine. They always smile and giggle and I can feel it in the air. There we were in the living room. Together. Joy. In a moment, there it is.

These games never last very long, but as I am an expert in the area of people watching I know what always comes next. Family time. It never stops with the game. It starts with the game. The cell phones get put away (who are you calling smart now?), and we cuddle together as a family. We are so happy together in these moments. Now if only I could figure out a trick to get them to turn off that television.

 

To Be Remembered July 27, 2013

I’m freaked. Now I can say so because you know the truth. The secret’s out. I’m going to be a big doggie brother. I’ve learned a lot from life thus far, but how to be a big doggie brother was never on the agenda. Did obedience school have a class on being a big doggie brother? How did I miss that one? Maybe that would be reason to go back to school. Or maybe not. I kind of like being an obedience school drop out so I shall defer instead to my life experience.

Big ThinkingThinking back on life as I know it, the only experience I have being a brother was with my puppy brothers before we got separated. And I was the little brother in that scenario. I was definitely not top dog. I was third dog. Fourth, if you count my birth mom. I didn’t mind, but I definitely learned what it was like to be the runt of the litter. I usually ate last. I know mom loved me, but she paid the least amount of attention to me compared to my brothers. I was usually the slowest in line when we moved from one home to another. None of this bothered me.

Instead my biggest fear was being left behind. I just wanted to keep up. To be treated equal. To be remembered. I don’t know how to be a big brother but I suppose I know something about being a little brother. That should mean something right? I know what not to do. This new little person will never feel left behind in this family if I have anything to say about it. Well, I won’t be saying anything I suppose. I don’t think little people can read right away so he can’t read my blog to see how I feel. But he won’t need to hear it. My little best-friend-to-be will know he or she is loved. We will sit together and play together and baby will know.

“Brothers don’t necessarily have to say anything to each other,” suggests American actor Leonardo DiCaprio. ” They can sit in a room and be together and just be completely comfortable with each other.”

I don’t feel any less nervous about being the best big brother I can be, but thinking back on life does bring me peace of heart. This little person will be loved with all my little doggie heart. And I will do everything I can to ensure he or she never feels left behind. I don’t need to go back to school to know that.

 

A Big Reveal July 26, 2013

I lick the excess water off my forever parents’ legs when they get out of the shower. I eat grass because I like how it tastes. I can’t resist fabrics that smell like my people. I don’t have many serious secrets. This may come as a surprise since my inability to talk renders me helpless in the gossip category, but (like most dogs) I also wear my heart on my proverbial sleeve.Happy!!!!

So please don’t be mad at me. Truth be told, I have a pretty big secret I’ve been keeping in spite of myself. I thought I’d wait until the perfect words came to me. Or the perfect time. Or for time to come to a screeching halt long enough for me to find the right words. Because this isn’t just any secret. It’s life-changing.

But alas the stars have not yet aligned in a way to empower the grand announcement I’d hoped for and I honestly can’t keep it in anymore. It’s like 17th century French dramatist Jean Racine suggested “there are no secrets that time does not reveal.” I’ve waited, and the time to reveal is now.

I’m going to be a big brother!

The dreams I’ve had of becoming a best friend to a little person of my own are going to become reality in a little more than five months. My mom and dad are having their first very own little person!

I honestly think I knew before mom did. (Dogs have a sixth sense about these things). There was an almost immediate change in her heart rate, her smells, and her general persona. Joy. In a word, that’s what this secret contains. So you can imagine it’s been hard for me to contain my excitement about this for so long. But I figured if mom could do it, so could I.

It’s nothing like my other so-called secrets. Who really cares about my obsession with fabrics that smell like my people, my occasional craving for grass, or how I help my people dry off after showers. This is big news. This is life. Joy. Family. I’m so excited to become a big brother, but even more so for my little person to feel the love in this forever home of mine. Mom is home to me, and I know she will be home to the little person. January 16, here we come!

 

When Pigs Fly July 25, 2013

When pigs fly is one of those people phrases I don’t particularly care to support. Less is more? Sure. All good things come to those who wait? Definitely. But this pigs flying business is uncalled for if you ask me. The phrase is meant to say something will never happen or (if it does) it is incredibly unlikely.

Well I’ve got news for you. Pigs fly in my dreams all the time. They have little wings and they take naps in the clouds. They’re also animated because I like the way fake pigs smell much more than real pigs, but that’s beside the point. To me the phrase encapsulates a major problem with the way people think about the realm of possibility.

When Dogs Blog

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Albert Einstein, a man known and respected as one of the smartest in history, held imagination in high esteem. “Imagination is more important than knowledge,” he said. “It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.” Some scientists might argue that imagination is the arch nemesis of knowledge, but Einstein knew better.

Today imagination made reality of some dreams I didn’t even know I had. When I started this blogging journey when pigs fly was equivalent to when dogs blog in my mind. Sure, I want to share my joy with the world, but does the world want to hear it? I asked myself this as I pondered my decision to start blogging, and doubt filled my little doggie heart. But it wasn’t too long before the comments started coming in and the blogosphere became a group of friends I look forward to seeing each day.

Shortly thereafter, I went all out. I opened a Twitter account, and a Facebook account, and a Gmail account. Then I waited. A few of my blog friends have found me on Facebook and some of my Twitter friends have found me in the blog world so I suppose you can say social media is doing its job. But email remained pretty empty so I didn’t check it often. (Checking it to find nothing made me sad, and I generally avoid things that make me sad).

So you can imagine my surprise today when I logged into Gmail and was greeted with 57 emails. It might not sound like a lot to some people, but it’s a lot to a dog. When pigs fly, when dogs blog, and now dogs are emailing. And there they were amidst my correspondence from blog buddies, Twitter pals and Facebook friends: emails from two different service organizations asking if I’d like to partner with them to spread the word about adopting rescue dogs. Would I like to share the word about rescue dogs? That’s like asking if I would like some peanut butter (which is only one of my most favorite things in the whole wide world!)

These partnerships are in the beginning stages, but I can’t help but think of Mr. Einstein’s words about imagination when I contemplate how I got to this point. The way I see it, imagination empowers the realm of possibility. Without it there is only the impossible. Do pigs fly? They sure do. And tonight I am flying right along with them.