Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

On Kindness and Diaper Wipes November 18, 2013

It’s not rocket science. I know it might be a mystery to the two-legged observer, but our canine bathroom routine is far from complicated. It’s all part of my process. I go outside, do my business, enjoy extra-curricular activities (like staring at the birds, attempting to chase off squirrels and occasionally conversing with Demon Dog), and come back inside.

I don’t use a toilet, let alone flush it. I don’t wash my paws when I’m done. And I certainly don’t use toilet paper. My Bathroom

So you can imagine how out of place I felt this weekend as I listened to a long and serious conversation my forever parents had about something called a wipes warmer. This contraption, which apparently warms diaper wipes to what is supposed to be a more comfortable temperature, has joined the ever-growing pile of baby things accumulating in the nursery. And my people are torn about its necessity amongst things like the diapers and wipes themselves.

While I consider it to be completely unnecessary (given my previously aforementioned bathroom behaviors), their conversation got me to thinking about what people refer to as the Golden Rule. Do unto others as you would have done to you. I highly doubt either of my people would like it if they were being woken up to go to the bathroom several times a night. Add to that some freezing cold toilet paper and you’ve got two very upset people. So why would you do essentially the same thing to a little person?

I’ll be honest. I think the wipes warmer is hogwash. But the argument for having one is incredibly solid. “Carry out a random act of kindness,” Princess Diana suggested, “with no expectation of reward, safe in  the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.” While the sincerest acts of kindness and compassion require nothing in return, these things have a way of coming back to us in one way or another.

It doesn’t take much. It’s not nearly as complicated as our canine bathroom routine may seem to the two-legged observer. And it certainly doesn’t require anything to warm it to a conceivably agreed upon temperature. Something as seemingly insignificant as a smile (or in my case an enthusiastic tail wag) can contain within it more power than a thousand words. Forget the artificial warmer. Kindness. Compassion. The Golden Rule. These are the words of true warmth.

 

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.

 

Faith In the Future July 14, 2013

“Make the most of your regrets,” Henry David Thoreau once said. “Never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh.”

Yesterday, I wrote about five things I would attempt to save if my house was burning down. Reflecting on the contradictory definitions a “spark,” I focused more on the fire than its aftermath. Its so easy to do in the heat of the moment. Why is it that in so many cases we don’t appreciate what we have until its gone?

Today, I realized all of the precious things I left behind. Practical things came to mind like my warm doggie bed and my Packer jersey. But I know those are replaceable. They’re just things.

Far more devastating are the memories lost in the ashes. I’ll never forget the first day my parents brought me home and let me explore my new house. All those hours spent playing fetch with Mrs. Prickles in the hallway. The first day mom let me come up on the bed. Money can’t buy back these memories.

I take a two-fold lesson from this experiment in thought. (See, there is always a silver lining).

1) Savor the small things. There are so many ways to lose sight of the importance of special moments in our lives. But there is a reason money can’t buy memories. Moments are priceless. There are groundbreaking days when major milestones make things easy to remember, but as Sarah Ban Breathnach points out in Simple Abundance “there is a lot of drudgery in most days.” These are the days we need to seek out joy in the small things.

2) Respect the past as preparation for the future. It’s all too easy to take things for granted. If we surrender to life’s simplicities and appreciate what we have on a daily basis, the future will be that much brighter. “I never regret anything,” says actress Drew Barrymore, “because every little detail of your life is what made you into who you are in the end.”

It is with my past in a special place in my heart that I find faith in the future. With faith as my fuel, I know my dreams will always be more exciting than my memories.

Today’s post is dedicated to Mandy Atkielski.

Eighteen-year-old Mandy entered doggie heaven yesterday. She will be missed.

My thoughts and prayers are with the family.

Mandy

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Another Man’s Trash May 14, 2013

The great and infamous “they” say one person’s garbage is another person’s treasure. Well, us canines are masters at making treasure out of life’s most unusual garbage. While some of us are more subtle about it than others, we canines do some pretty good treasure hunting. From garbage cans to discarded Kleenexes, we have a gift of finding gold in the most unusual of places.

Treasure SeekerI got to thinking about this earlier today when laying on the bathroom blanket my people refer to as a bathmat. (I’m so blessed to have people so considerate to lay down this thing called a bathmat specifically for me because the bathroom floor tiles are chilly. I’m sure it has nothing to do with keeping the water off the tiles.) Every morning the Schmidt bathroom offers a myriad of scents and aromas I can’t say I appreciate.

Lotions and potions and perfumes, oh my! It is so confusing to me why my people try to hard to mask their natural (in my opinion beautiful) smell. In the shower they go: body wash, rinse, shampoo, rinse, conditioner, rinse.  Then after the shower, there’s lotions and perfumes (or colognes) and deodorant. It’s exhausting to me.

Why not find treasure in the garbage? Why not embrace one’s natural scent rather than masking it with various lotions and perfumes? I wish I could explain to my people that is why I obsessively roll around in clean clothes and dirty towels. They don’t smell like home. Call me crazy, but I love the natural smell of all my loved ones. Dogs and people alike, I prefer them in their most natural form.

“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus,” said American author Mark Twain. My eyes, nose, and imagination are finely tuned, if I do say so myself. To me, another person’s garbage is only an imaginative thought away from being my treasure.

 

A Dog’s Tale May 6, 2013

I hold my breath when Aaron Rodgers throws a football down the field because I want to be sure someone catches it. I bark at the bass that Babe Winkelman and Bill Dance reel in on the moving picture window in the living room. I physically recoil when my dad takes off his leather belt or swings a baseball bat. Oh, and some of you already know this, but I have a habit of rolling myself all over clothes (clean or dirty) left anywhere within my reach.

Comedic or otherwise, there you have it. These are some of the private (but honest) truths of my life. I think a lot of people think us canines must be the best secret keepers because of the stories we are entrusted with, but I’ve got another honest truth to share with you. Dogs don’t really keep secrets. We wear our emotions on our tail. You can see it in our eyes. That’s the thing about unconditional love – it speaks a universal language directly from our hearts to yours.

That’s one of a few reasons why the cThis Face Doesn't Lieonfusion my parents have had about the main bathroom in my forever home is completely baffling to me. When they brought me here, the walls were blue. Now they are white. It sounds simple enough, but this is not a change that came easily.

Some turn to television for entertainment, but I need not look further than my forever family. The bathroom “conversation” happened about a year ago but I remember it like it was yesterday. Mom and dad were talking about making changes around the house, and mom mentioned changing the color of the walls in the main bathroom. Dad questioned this, as it was their joint decision to choose the light blue color that used to adorn the walls. Mom insisted that perhaps they made the decision in haste and indeed a lighter color might be a better fit in the small room. Dad agreed. And that’s when the reality happened.

They both admitted they had hated the color of the walls for two years (two years!) and had been withholding the truth from one another in protection of the other’s feelings. I couldn’t believe my little doggie ears. Not only did they agree a change was needed, but they admitted to essentially lying to each other (for two years!) about allegedly liking this mutual decision.

It is a baffling and foreign concept to me, as a dog’s tale (er, I mean tail) never lies. While the majority of people might assume us canines to be the best secret keepers, I can’t say that’s accurate. I shared my “secrets” with the world tonight, and I didn’t stop there. I shared the “secrets” of my people too. Let’s face it, they probably won’t be too happy with me when they see I’ve mentioned my habit of rolling around in their clothes again. (I would challenge that isn’t much of a secret because they inevitably take a piece of me with them via the fur trail I leave on the clothes, but I digress.)

“To one who waits, all things reveal themselves,” English poet Coventry Patmore tells us, “so long as you have the courage not to deny in the darkness what you have seen in the light.”

It wasn’t an easy journey, but the bathroom walls that were blue are now white, the color of purity. The color of a fresh start. Truth be told, I can’t say I notice that much a difference.

But what do I know? I hold my breath when Aaron Rodgers throws a football because I believe that will help Donald Driver catch it and score a touchdown. The behavior is part of who I am and I refuse to hide myself from reality. I understand it as part of my authenticity, part of what makes me who I am. Dogs don’t really keep secrets. You can see it in our eyes, and even more so in our tails. Besides, experience has taught me these so-called secrets have a way of surfacing on their own when you least expect it. Take it from me and my truthful tail.