Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Window to the Soul November 15, 2014

I’ve always wondered what it would be like. It certainly isn’t something I think I’ll ever be able to do. I’m not sure whether to be disappointed about that, since mostly I’m in appreciative awe of anyone who has done it.

My people did it when they adopted me on that hot summer day all those years ago. They didn’t just give me a safe place to live with a constant supply of food, water, and toys. They gave me love. They gave me a home. They gave me a life.

Me and my number one fanThat is what adoption does for us shelter dogs, after all. A life saver. This is not to say shelter life is all that bad. I was well tended to during my tenure at the Oshkosh Humane Society. But it’s not the same. It’s not the same as laying down your head each night knowing you are loved.

And I don’t think I’m alone in saying that as an adopted shelter dog, I know first paw it goes beyond that. A life without purpose is no life at all. I always thought I knew my life’s purpose. Then I was adopted and it was like everything came into focus.

“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can’t repay you,” suggested Christian writer John Bunyan.

 

I can never repay my people for giving me such a blessed forever home. But I can show my gratitude for finding meaning in my life. My purpose is to love my people with all my doggie heart. To bring them joy in all I do. To cheer them up when they are sad, and to snuggle them when they are cold. My purpose is to live my love for them. To fill an emptiness they didn’t even know they have. It’s a big job, but I’m honored they have chosen me to take it on. Especially since a labor of love is never work as far as I’m concerned. It’s life.

I don’t think I’ll ever know what it feels like to save a life. But that doesn’t mean I can’t be an advocate for my fellow four-leggers out there in America’s shelters who need a good home. Take it from me. It’s more than a home. It’s a life.

 

Like Riding A Bike August 11, 2013

I blame my fairly parent-free puppyhood. My dad left my mom before I met him, and I lost my mom way too early. But that doesn’t excuse my selfish thinking lately. We canines love unconditionally and selflessly after all. Hard as it may be to admit, everything is not about me. There’s a nervous energy in the Schmidt home lately. It makes sense, with a baby on the way and all. But I realized today we have more than that in common. I’ve been pretty selfish, haven’t I?

I’ve been going about this (soon-to-be) big brother gig all wrong. I’ve been so worried about being a good big brother I didn’t think twice about how my people must be feeling about becoming parents. Parents. Yes, that is definitely a bigger deal than being a brother. Sure, all parts make a family whole. But being parents is one of life’s most excitingly terrifying miracles.

This all became startlingly obvious to me today when my parents were agreeing how much they miss biking together this summer. My regularly accident-prone mom is playing it safe staying away from the two-wheel balancing beam just in case her evolving center of gravity should befall her. And I noticed nerves in their conversation that I’ve been seeing a lot more of lately. No More Nerves

I wished I could jump in to remind them my mom didn’t learn how to ride a bicycle until her 27th birthday. It’s not really my confession to make, but I don’t think she’d mind. She grew up like any other child in every other way, but riding a bike was not part of her particular childhood story. I remember the day well.

She and dad came home with an air of excitement us dogs can sense in less obvious things like racing heartbeats and quicker breathing patterns. With them they brought a contraption I learned later was called a bicycle. I didn’t care for this new toy as it seemed to have a directly inverse relationship to my walks around the neighborhood. Instead of taking a walk with me, she would go off on a bike ride with dad.

Bike rides aren’t like car rides. No dogs are allowed on bike rides. But it seemed to bring them both joy, so I gradually let my feelings of disdain subside. Now it’s time to do the same with my nerves about being a big brother.

Because I saw it again today. Mom is already mothering the baby by staying away from something she enjoys that could put him or her in danger. Dad was an excellent (and incredibly patient) teacher with mom learning to ride a bike. Instead of catching the nervous contagion, I should be focusing my energy on reinforcing for my forever family the truth. They’ve already been parents. For three years, they’ve been the best parents a doggie could ask for. I don’t know what they’re so nervous about.

 

Brighter Than Sunshine March 10, 2013

French poet Victor Hugo once said “to love beauty is to see light.” I could use some light on this dreary Sunday afternoon, so I find myself exploring what beauty looks like to me. “Beauty in things exists in the mind which contemplates them,” as fellow empiricist thinker David Hume put it.

I love Hume’s statement as it reflects my belief that beauty starts in the mind. It radiates from the soul. And it shines brightly in those who value inner beauty over glitz and glamour. So it might not come as that big a surprise that I am not a fan of the dog show world. Don’t get me wrong – they’re not all bad. But taken to the big stage that is the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show (and others like it), my disdain is threefold and I simply can’t try to understand it from their point of view.

Please bear in mind, this perspective comes from someone who would most definitely be considered a mutt in the outwardly analytical eyes of the Westminster judges. If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times: “what kind of dog is that?” No one knows. The shows only pass judgment on what they consider to be “accepted breeds,” which I am most definitely not.

Moreover, the Westminster dropped Pedigree as one of its main sponsors after 24 years in 2012. The reason? Pedigree was running a campaign in support of helping shelter dogs (like me) find their forever homes. No. They say right on the Westminster web site they only want “the best of the best…Storied in its history, rich in its tradition, the Westminster’s Kennel Club famed annual dog show is unique, prestigious, and elegant for all concerned.”Just A Mutt with a Big Heart

Much like what the elegance of Hollywood has done to encourage the staggering statistics that accompany eating disorders among women, these shows measure beauty on an unreasonable scale. Dogs are being held to different more physically demanding standards than ever before. In some cases, the evolving physical guidelines are encouraging breeders to make changes that ultimately cause serious health problems. While judges are now seeking a more severe slope in the back of a German Shepherd, breeding to meet the standard is causing more hip dysplasia on an already common problem in that breed. Pug faces are deemed most anatomically correct the flatter they are, but the poor little dogs suffer from breathing problems as a result. Is it worth it?

I would much rather measure beauty in its purest form. “You are not your appearance, but does the rest of the world know that?” Sarah Ban Breathnach asks in Simple Abundance. How different the world would look if we all asked ourselves that question on a daily basis.

In my case, it would be a reminder that I actually love everything about my unique appearance and my (relatively) normal life in my loving forever home. Those Westminster judges might call me a mutt, but I’m okay with that because I am a believer in the power inner beauty can have on the outer world. Forget the glamorous dog shows. I don’t need a fancy ribbon or trophy to know when I see inner beauty, I see light brighter than sunshine.

Related Articles

http://www.care2.com/causes/the-westminster-dog-show-is-hurting-dogs.html

http://www.care2.com/causes/westminster-dog-show-rebuffs-shelter-dogs.html