Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Penny For Your Thoughts August 31, 2013

I did the unthinkable today. I made friends with a feline. And I’ve got to be honest. I don’t understand what all the fuss is about.

Her name is Penny and she frequents my front doorstep, so I assumed she was homeless. She doesn’t wear a collar, so I assumed she wasn’t loved by a person. She’s one of the skinnier felines I’ve come across, so I assumed she doesn’t eat very frequently.

On Friendship

I assumed wrong. I learned today she has a forever home down the street where she is very well-loved by an older lady named Rose. Much like us canines think of our people, Penny considers Rose her best friend. So it hasn’t been easy for Penny to see her person struggling with health issues more frequently lately. She apparently sleeps a lot during the day (which is saying something coming from a cat), so she encourages Penny to seek adventure outside the confines of the house. She trusts that Penny will come home for her specially prepared meals (Penny has digestion issues), and for the love they share.

Penny looked especially downtrodden on my doorstep today, so I successfully pestered mom enough to take me outside to talk to her. It was the first time we’d spoken and I can honestly say I hope it’s not the last. Everything about her surprised me, and she seemed surprised to feel the same way about me.

She said from her perspective I always looked aloof, guarded, and the slightest bit snooty from my perch in the window. Like you think your poop doesn’t stink, she said. We laughed together at that, since we both know poop does indeed stink.

Amidst our laughter, I realized how unfair we had been to each other all this time. We both had these inaccurate pictures of each other’s personality painted in our heads. She had bad experiences with dogs, and I had bad experiences with cats. But in this (albeit strange) situation, we were able to move past those preconceived notions and (gasp!) actually like each other. It didn’t take me long to come to the conclusion that stereotypes are definitely overrated. Other people should not be allowed to determine who you can and cannot befriend. Moreover, others should not determine what should and should not bring you joy.

“Allow yourself to trust joy and embrace it,” suggested my favorite transcendental thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson. “You will find you dance with everything.”

Today I found joy in the most unusual place. I found it in Penny. She makes it her purpose in life to bring joy (from the ground up) to her dearest person named Rose. So I don’t particularly care if she’s a cat and the world says we can’t be friends. Penny is rich with joy, which makes her pretty priceless in my book.

 

Pawsing Amidst the Noise August 30, 2013

They are apparently called hogs. Yet they sound more like lions. And I thought hogs was a synonym for pigs. My surroundings sure have me confused today.

Then I heard mom and dad talking and it all came together. H.O.G. stands for Harley’s Owner Group, which is widely known and respected as the world’s largest motorcycle club. These motorcycles roar loudly like lions. And these “hogs” taking over our city this weekend are not pigs. They are people coming in from all over the world to celebrate the 110th anniversary of Harley-Davidson. They’re coming to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where it all began. They’re coming home.

Being Still

I have to admit, these motorcycle contraptions appear to be a lot of fun. They are loud, fast, and no two bikes look alike. Beyond that, their owners are incredibly passionate about all things Harley. And I know dogs are learning how to drive cars in Australia, so I’m not sure what that means for our future in motorcycles.

I don’t suppose it matters all that much, especially with a little person on the way. But all of this noise got me to thinking about noise in our lives. It can be actual noise, like the constant roaring I am hearing outside my forever home tonight. Or it can be figurative noise, like when our brains can’t focus because there is simply too much happening in our minds. I think mom has this kind of noise in her head at night sometimes when she can’t sleep.

Being still amidst the noise isn’t always easy to do and yet I think that makes it even more important. The noise around the neighborhood tonight reminds me of the importance of pawsing to be still. Quiet. Peaceful.

“See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence,” suggested Mother Teresa. “We need silence to be able to touch souls.”

This is not to say there is anything wrong with enjoying the roar of motorcycle horsepower. In fact, I know some Harley lovers who would argue the sound is one of the most important markers of a Harley compared to other motorcycles. But those moments in between the noise are special too. I think these moments of silence amidst the noise are a big part of what this anniversary celebration is really about – passion. History. Culture.

They might be called hogs and roar like lions but they sure have a whole lot of heart. Welcome home.

 

As It Is August 29, 2013

Being RealI know when it’s real. I know when it’s fake. There is something in a person’s spirit that gives it away to a keen canine eye. The smile. Maybe it’s because we canines smile with our tails, but why anyone fakes it I will never understand.

But my lack of understanding of this basic human behavior does not (in itself) make it cease to exist. Quite the opposite in fact. As a regular observer of people, I know this fake smile happens all the time for any number of reasons. A need to impress. A need to console. A need to end a conversation so you can go to the bathroom.

Regardless of the why, I find it most unusual because most receivers of the fake smile know that’s what they’re getting. They’re not stupid. Life has taught me that most people are much less mysterious than they think they are. And the fake smile is no good for the giver or the receiver. It puts the person faking it in a position to act instead of live his or her true feelings. It puts the receiver in a position where they feel like they said the wrong thing, put the person out, or are wasting the person’s time.

I know I don’t speak for everyone when I say this, but that hasn’t held me back before and will not hold me back now. Just be real. I’d rather hear the truth than see a fake smile. Give it to me as it is, as Dido sings in “Let Us Move On,” even if it sucks. Life is messy sometimes. Live it. Chances are you will feel better for living it, and the person will feel better for his or her (albeit incredibly small) part they played in your overall well-being.

Because I’m not the only one who knows when its real or fake. A lot of people do too. The smile. I just don’t understand why anyone would fake it. In my little doggie eyes, it’s a sacred expression of joy that shouldn’t be wasted for reasons we can’t explain. “Honesty is the first chapter of the book of wisdom,” as American president Thomas Jefferson suggested. And an honest smile starts in the heart. Now if only I could get my paws on a copy of that book.

 

My Purpose-Driven Life August 28, 2013

It’s a big deal. I don’t know why anyone would say it isn’t. But a pressure exists in our society to figure it out sooner rather than later and I can’t say I agree with that. What are you going to be when you grow up? We ask it of our little people, who (more often than not) respond with some pretty big ideas. They want to be a lawyer. Or a writer. Or (better yet) a balloon maker (this was my mom’s dream job at the tender age of four).

Then they start school, and the ideas change. The dreams continue to evolve, but the question doesn’t go away. What do you want to be when you grow up? A lawyer? A writer? (At this point you have matured enough to rule out balloon maker as a profession). Then comes college where the pressure sounds the worst. What are you going to be when you grow up? Law school sure is expensive. And there sure is a lot of competition to become a writer. How about psychology? Or communications? Or financial planning?Ground Up Thinking

Obviously us canines don’t really go through this whole debacle as we rely on our people to struggle through it on our behalf. (All so they can go to that place called work instead of play with us all the time – a concept I’ll never fully understand). Perhaps because I don’t personally deal with the distraction of the daily grind, I’ve noticed something. Regardless of where along the line a person ultimately comes upon their answer to this very big question, it has something very significant in common.

None of this matters without purpose. Without passion. And I may not have a career, but I’m no stranger to thoughts on what makes up a purpose-filled life. I remember the first time I questioned my purpose right after I was separated from my birth mom and brothers.

I feared I would never feel what it’s like to be a family again.

I thought I found my purpose in protecting Jo from the man with the leather belt, but he didn’t like that purpose very much and opted to abandon me on the side of the road.

I feared I would never know home again.

So I spent the majority of my time at the Oshkosh Humane Society questioning my purpose in life.

I feared I never know love again.

But I have found that fear (especially in our darkest moments) ultimately brings purpose to those who let it. My fears led me to purpose in becoming a valued part of a family in my forever home. And I know now with complete certainty that I am fulfilling my purpose in something as simple as that.

It is a big deal. I don’t know why anyone would say it isn’t. What do I want to be when I grow up? Besides the fact I’ve committed to never actually growing up, I have found what matters. My purpose in life is to be a valued part of my family in my forever home. My purpose is to share joy from the ground up with whomever will take it. My purpose is to live, and (in doing so) bring fear to purpose. What’s yours?

 

Better Late Than Never August 27, 2013

Belated is not a favorite people word of mine. Literally speaking, it means late or overdue. But as us canines are in the habit of digging deeper, I have to admit the meaning behind the word is one I generally can’t stand behind. It implies something important has been missed, forgotten, or set aside.

I have been all of these things in my lifetime. Set aside. Forgotten. Missed. I know what these things feel like and I wouldn’t wish the resulting emotions on anyone. But I am also in the habit of seeing both sides to a story, I am a believer that it’s better late than never.

Yesterday was National Dog Day and I completely missed it. I missed the chance to wish all of my four-legged pals well on our day of honor. Moreover, I missed a chance to talk about what this day means to me. I was confused at first about what it was we were to celebrate on this fairly new holiday. Today I realized it is a day to celebrate unconditional love. Friendship. Rescue. And none of these things can ever happen too late in one’s life.

“In every heart, there is an empty space…in every shelter…there is love in which to fill it,” suggested National Dog Day Founder Colleen Paige. “Adopt some love this day and every day.”

Rescue means different things to different people. I was somewhat startled by the honesty in one of Bing’s definitions of the word, which defined rescue as saving something. “To prevent something from being discarded, rejected, or put out of operation,” the definition reads.

It’s not fun to think about. It doesn’t bring joy to anyone’s heart. Yet I know that dogs are discarded on the side of roads every day. I know that even dogs with homes can feel rejected by their owners. And I know that dogs die in shelters all over the world at a startling rate. But it’s not too late for them. And it’s not too late for you. In every heart there is an empty space and in every shelter there is love to fill it.

Belated is not a favorite people word of mine because to me it means something must first be missed or forgotten. But maybe it’s not such a bad word after all, because in order for something to be considered belated it must be remembered. It must be found. It must be rescued. And none of these things can ever happen to late in one’s life.Love.

This post is inspired by Rescue Pledge, an organization committed to encouraging people to pledge to adopt their next animal from a shelter. They are saving lives, two at a time. Please consider taking the pledge today.

 

Safety First August 26, 2013

Before this, it was a pretty simple battle. Me verses the toilet. Before this, the toilet is pretty much the only piece of furniture (if you can all it that) I am not allowed to claim as my own. Before this, it’s always been a losing battle for me since I don’t actually have any desire to try to spend any time on it.

Well all of that ends today. The toilet has welcomed a comrade to the mix of things, and I’m not so sure I can just sit by and let them win this one. This new piece of furniture is called a crib, and apparently it is where the baby will be sleeping.

My people put it together yesterday, and when they were finished I was certain the job couldn’t actually be complete. That can’t be right, I thought, as I eyed the high railings that start just an inch or so off the floor. So while they were away at that place called work today, I took time to think this through. Certainly it must be a mistake. There is no way for me to safely navigate into the crib, nor is there a way for me to squeeze underneath it.Life Lessons on Trust

I don’t understand. How am I supposed to protect this baby if I can’t snuggle with it in the night? It doesn’t make sense. Then again, I don’t suppose it makes much sense for me to be pairing the toilet and this new crib together on a battle against me for furniture supremacy. The truth is, I don’t mind not being able to figure out the toilet. But this, not being able to snuggle with and protect what promises to be one of the most snuggly and helpless creatures, this bothers me.

The more I pondered this situation, I was reminded of something I haven’t struggled with for quite some time. I have trust issues. They’ve long been collecting dust on one of the suppressed file folders of my little doggie mind, but they’re still there. That’s the thing about the past – it has a way of sneaking up on you sometimes. The problem is, I know it’s not my people who I don’t trust. Indeed, they are among the only people around who I wholeheartedly trust more than anyone. Clearly they know what they are doing with this crib contraption and I simply need to trust they are doing the right thing. Even if it means I can’t enjoy snuggle time with the baby who needs protecting.

So I am considering this a battle lost, and I’m okay with that (even if it means losing to team toilet). Instead of fighting, I consider the words of Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu who challenged “he who does not trust enough will not be trusted.” Step aside trust issues. It seems I’ll just have to find other ways of keeping my new little person safe.

 

Don’t Want To Miss A Thing August 25, 2013

Must. Keep. Eyes. Open. This was my mantra on August 25, 2010. All day long, it’s all I could think. I don’t know if it was pent up nervous energy, lack of sleep, or the overwhelming amount of activity all day long, but the day I was adopted was one to remember.

It started like most days at the humane society, except I could sense a bittersweet excitement in Katie (my favorite angel helper) when she let me out of my cage that day. Something was up, that much I knew, but I had no idea the adventure that day would hold. I got a bath, and a snazzy haircut, and my nails trimmed, and I felt like a million bucks. I got walked a whole bunch, and I swear Katie even snuck me an abundance of extra treats while we played outside. I didn’t realize it would be our last time playing together, but I’m kind of glad I didn’t. Sometimes it’s better that way.

As the day went on, Katie and the other angel helpers kept talking about me being adopted with mixed emotions. They were nervous for me going into a second home, hopeful this would be my forever home, and a bit sad to see me go. It was exhausting.

So when my people came to pick me up for my car ride to my forever home that afternoon, I was pooped. I was ready for an epic nap. Little did I know they lived an hour and a half away from the humane society. There I was, in the back seat of the Ford Escape with my new mom, happy and nervous and dog tired. I remember sitting there next to her doing all the things I associated with being a “good boy.” I sat. I stayed. I kept quiet.

Must. Keep. Eyes. Open.

A Younger Looking Me

My mission failed. I kept drifting in and out of consciousness in spite of my best attempts to stay awake. And yet I remember it all like it was yesterday. I remember it was incredibly hot and humid (not that unlike it is today) and mom didn’t let me sit in the seat I started in. She pulled me close and pet me and I could feel the love coming through her hands. I remember how skeptical dad seemed the whole time. I could tell he wasn’t as keen on this whole new arrangement as mom and I mentally committed that day to change that (this didn’t take long). I remember everything.

I’ve often wondered how it is I remember so much about a day so long ago (three people years is equal to about 21 doggie years depending on who you ask), considering I was struggling to stay awake the majority of that afternoon and evening. I think I got my answer today. I didn’t want to miss a thing about that special day in my life. So I didn’t. I kept the eyes of my heart open, even though the eyes on my face weren’t. So today, on the three-year anniversary of my adoption, I celebrate life. Past. Present. Future.

Must. Keep. Eyes. Open.

This was my mantra on August 25, 2010. Three years later, I share the same idea with one small alteration:

Must. Keep. Heart. Open.

It’s the only way to live.