Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Rescue Me November 17, 2013

I didn’t believe her at first. She was new and exciting and her past didn’t matter to me. What mattered was she was my new mom, my forever person, and I loved her from the start.

RescuedI loved her that first day she and dad came to visit me at the Oshkosh Humane Society. We shared a special moment when she knelt down to pet me and I did my best to grab on with my paw (as only us canines can do) to show her she was the one for me.  I was devastated when they left without me that day. The days that followed were some of my lowest of the low. A whole two weeks went by before I saw her again, and that’s when I knew it to be true. My forever person had found me. I was being rescued.

Recovery. Liberation. Deliverance. Rescue means different things to different people, all tied together by the common denominator of strong emotional responses. Joy. From the ground up, that’s what rescue means to me. So it never occurred to me that perhaps more than one heart was rescued that day. At least not until later, as I learned my adoption followed a string of unfortunate events in the lives of my forever people.

In May 2009, mom’s job at the local newspaper was eliminated along with the jobs of about half of the staff. Two weeks later, her dad died. It was sudden and terrible, and I won’t share all the details, other than that it came as a complete shock to her small immediate family. And alas, she had a new full-time job-helping her mom meet the attorneys, doing calculations with the CPA, and acting like the grown up who had it all together. In reality, she was the 24-year-old kid who found herself turning to the wrong ways of coping.

I’m no psychologist, but I would say she was still a little depressed when I met her a little more than a year later. And I immediately set about changing that in the only way I knew how. Loving. And, in doing so, I know I made her feel more alive. So ultimately I’m not sure who really rescued who. What I do know is I never would have thought more than one heart could be rescued in the same day. Yet I know it to be (at least partially) true. Mom didn’t just rescue me that day. I rescued her.

This post was inspired by Janine Allen’s “I Rescued a Human Today.”

Read it here: http://rescuemedog.org/dog-blog/i-rescued-a-human-today-by-janine-allen/

 

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.

 

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.

 

Patience Is Virtue August 8, 2013

If there’s something us canines generally struggle with, it’s this people concept that patience is virtue. We’re not good at waiting. Stay is my least favorite trick. And don’t get me started on when dad challenges me to sit still until he says I can take my delicious rawhide. Patience is not my strong suit. But last night I got a glimpse at this virtue patience can bring. This sense of hope. Happiness. Light at the end of the tunnel.

I have been kind of a mess thinking about the story of Cabela, the dog who was blown up by a man in Washington a few days ago. I felt terrible when I finished blogging about it last night. I hate not being able to find a silver lining in any story. And it seems my negative feelings were contagious, based on the feedback I’ve gotten about the devastation, terror and grief this horrific story has sparked in people. Good News, All!

So you can imagine my relief when it happened, a mere fifteen minutes or so after I put my thoughts on this awful story out there for the world to read. I wanted to get involved somehow, to let someone know what happened is in no way acceptable. I wanted to do something. No, I had to do something.

On a whim, I sent a message to Cabela’s former owner Ty Freemantle all the way in Washington. I told him how sorry I was to hear the story, how scared I was that things like this are actually happening, and how helpless I felt to do anything about it. You see, there’s this thing about patience. It pays off. Granted, it didn’t take long so the employment of the waiting game wasn’t nearly as exhausting as it could have been.

Because I found my silver lining. Freemantle responded to my message almost instantly, sincerely thanking me for taking an interest in his story. Our conversation was brief, but the virtue was clear. The story broke a mere few days ago, and already Freemantle has been showered with thoughtfulness and prayers from people (and dogs in my case) all over the world. It’s no surprise to me that the animal lovers out there have united, as this is what we do. What did surprise me was what Freemantle said next.

He has decided to use his grief as fuel for positive change, which sounds an awful lot like a silver lining if you ask me.

“It scares me that maybe if I didn’t stand up he would have gotten away with it, and that someone else could do the same thing and walk free,” he said. “This set a fire inside me and I’m starting a organization to work on changing the animal cruelty law from such narrow specifications on what is and is not qualified.”

The ultimate goal would be to ensure that any act of aggression to an animal shall be punished by animal cruelty charges. As a survivor of animal abuse, I told him I am obviously a wholehearted supporter of his cause. I pledged to do anything I can to help. Because I know it’s not going to be easy. It’s not going to happen overnight. And us canines are no good at being patient. But now that I know the good that waits at the end of the patience path, I’d say it’s worth the wait.

 

This Time Around April 9, 2013

I wonder sometimes if I can really call myself an optimist if I believe in second chances. Heck, what if I believe in third, fourth and fifth chances? Doesn’t that afford a certain negativity in the underlying reality that a second, third or fourth chance means admitting failure at some point? Today I realized it is (in fact) the opposite.

“Today, declare to the Universe that you are open to receiving all the abundance it’s patiently waiting to bestow,” Sarah Ban Breathnach writes in Simple Abundance. “Each day offers us the gift of being a special occasion if we can simply learn that as well as giving, it is blessed to receive with grace and a grateful heart.”

Like most things, opportunities are all about perspective. Just as the glass can look half empty to one person What Do You Say To Second Chances?and half full to another, a second chance on something can be a blessing instead of an admission of failure. April is Prevention of Cruelty to Animals month, so what better opportunity to root for second chances for animals all over the world? Beaten, abused, and neglected animals deserve a second chance too, and believe me – they don’t see it as an admission of failure.

There is this thing about being a rescue dog. Like many, I was beaten, abused and neglected before I learned how to turn fear to purpose in my life.

I found rescue in the shelter of the humane society. I would call that my second chance. I was adopted and the family decided I wasn’t a good fit for their situation, so I found rescue in the shelter of the humane society. Again. I would call that my third and fourth chance. It wasn’t until my fifth chance with my forever family that I found my true purpose in life. Time with my forever parents has made me realize how much more powerful my joy is when shared with others, and to bring purpose to some of the things in life that used to frighten me.

But I wouldn’t say those first few chances were completely for naught. Indeed I would argue the opposite. I learned valuable lessons in each of the paths I’ve taken in life, and I wouldn’t trade any of those experiences for all the dog treats in the world.

A second chance is a blessing, not a disappointment. As such, I think an optimist would believe in second chances, not because of the inherent understanding of failure in the first opportunity, but because the glass doesn’t get emptier with each try. That’s the point of optimism, isn’t it? To see the glass half full (of potential, happiness, and all other good things) regardless of how full it might actually be?

 

If Dogs Could Talk April 7, 2013

I overheard this conversation between my mom and dad the other day that brought a smile to my face. There was something outside the bay window in our living room and I overreacted as I usually do.

“Calm down, it’s just a squirrel,” dad said. Well, you should have seen his face when I actually calmed down as opposed to freaking out like I usually do when animals outside threaten my territory.

“It’s like he understood me,” he said.

“I think it’s probably because he did,” mom said.

Thinking...“Well, of course I did,” I thought at the top of my doggie mind, “I understand everything you say!” It’s a pity I don’t speak human, because this was about the zillionth time I wished they could hear me and know that I know what they say.

What they don’t realize is that I understand a lot more than they think I do. Dogs didn’t earn the highly sought after title of man’s best friend by understanding nothing. We canines can read people. We have a paw on the pulse of human emotion that is unparalleled in the animal kingdom. It’s part of our undeniable and unmistakable charm. I wonder sometimes what would happen if dogs could talk. I wonder what would happen if we could speak from the hearts that love unconditionally to the people who need to hear and understand unconditional love.

I wonder sometimes what  I would say to them, my forever parents, if I were afforded the chance to cross that line between doggie and human communication. I can’t imagine it would last long, so I would want every word to count. Today I realized it matters less the words I would say than the emotions behind them.

“I love you. You are beautiful. Self-doubt has no home here. Believe in your instincts, love bigger than the sky, and please remember how special you are,” I would tell them. “You are everything to me. Please know that and know you can be that to another dog after I’m gone. You won’t be betraying me. You will be honoring me by finding another dog to rescue and shower with love.”

My emotions frequently overwhelm my little doggie heart. So you can only imagine what happens when I hear my parents talking about little ole me. They don’t even need to say it. I know they love me. Isn’t that the most powerful kind of communication?

 

Learning from Larceny January 20, 2013

Think about the last time you broke a rule (a big one, not just ripping the tags off your pillows). Were you burned, or did things turn out for the best?

I have this theory about time. It goes by, as certain as the sunrise and sunset each day. But every now and then, life affords us unique moments to treasure. I say this because was a clearance puppy. And two years after being a clearance puppy, I became a clearance dog. At a little more than two years old, my fate at the humane society seemed sealed tightly in negativity. Then I had my special day…I had my moment to treasure. I met my forever people.

They were my unexpected field of diamonds, as Breathnach describes in Simple Abundance. “We all have an acre of diamonds waiting to be discovered, cherished, and mined,” she writes. I had a lot of time in my first two years without a home to dream about what life could be, aspiring to discover by own personal acre of diamonds to be cherished. As time went on, I found myself questioning who I was, and wondering why no one wanted me.

So when that first family with three other dogs and two cats adopted me, I found myself wanting to make an impression. I wanted to stand out, to make them love me best so I could make up for all that lost time of feeling neglected. Looking back, I suppose I took it too far, but I rationalized it at the time because I wanted so badly to be loved. I knew which pet was their favorite, and it wasn’t me.

It was Tessa, their three-year-old cat. I could tell immediately upon meeting her that she was as black and white by personality as she was by color. To the people, she was the sweetest, most loving cat they could ask for. But she lorded that over the other animals and I, treating the rest of us like the unwanted skin of the salmon filet she had for dinner. We were the scraps as she saw us. And I hated her. She was the embodiment of larceny, taking from me the love I so desperately craved from my new people. I know now that does not justify what I did next, but I didn’t care at the time.

One night, after we had all finished dinner, I cornered her in the kitchen for everyone to see, grabbed her by the neck and gave her a good shake. Nothing that would have killed her, but just a little something to let her know how I loathed her. And with that, back to the humane society I went. I was the clearance dog again.

But no experience, no blip in time, is meaningless if something is learned. My time with that family (albeit brief) taught me something incredibly valuable. While I might be horrible at breaking rules (and I know don’t do harm to others is a pretty fundamental one), I never stopped dreaming that I would be someone’s Tessa someday.

To me, time as it is meant to be is twofold. First, we dream of things that could be. “For each of us there is a deeply personal dream waiting to be discovered and fulfilled,” Breathnach writes. “When we cherish our dream and then invest love, creative energy, perseverance, and passion in ourselves, we will achieve authentic success.” Then we will have those moments in time of pure happiness.

Only Time

 

My answer? I sleep smiling December 29, 2012

I saw one of those humane society commercials on the moving picture window today. You know the one…melancholy melodies, forlorn faces, and tear-jerking thoughts illustrating the unfortunate struggles of beaten, abused and neglected animals. If dogs could cry, I would have been bawling like a baby (my mom sure did).

Instead, I did what I always do when animals make an appearance on what my mom calls the television…I whined my most heartfelt of whines and even barked a little bit. (I don’t ever bark, except when animals show up on the television). “I will be the answer at the end of the line. I will be there for you while you take the time,” Sarah McLachlan swoons in the background of the commercial, “…Cast me gently into morning for the night has been unkind. Take me to a place so holy that I can wash this from my mind…”

I’m no stranger to beatings, abuse and neglect. I’ve endured the pain of being kicked to the side and whipped with a leather belt for going outside inside…even though I tried my hardest to hold it for four days without being let out. I’ve felt the misery of being discarded on the side of the road with no place to go, and more importantly no one to love me. I’ve wandered the streets in the freezing cold Wisconsin winters searching for shelter.  I’ve served time behind bars and cages. I know beatings, abuse and neglect. And it breaks my heart to see such a stark reminder that there are so many animals starving, without homes, or worse – in abusive, unloving or neglectful homes.

Its the kind of thing that I occasionally have nightmares about…images of my past haunt me, but thinking about those who live that horror in the present makes me realized how blessed I am. After everything I’ve lived through…the lyrics of the song in that commercial… “the memory of choosing not to fight”… .I sleep smiling because my parents gave me the best gift I could ever have asked for – a loving home. I found my answer. What’s yours?