Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

A Wise Man Listens December 5, 2014

Sleep is a close friend of mine. We’ve basically been best friends forever since day one. I’m sure my schedule in a day consists of no more beauty sleep than the average canine. There’s the early morning and mid-morning naps, followed by the early afternoon and mid-afternoon naps. Usually there’s a late afternoon and evening nap too before it’s finally time for one of my absolute favorite times of the day – bedtime.

An outsider might see this as a waste of time. I see it as the opposite. I do a lot of deep thinking and dreaming big in my sleep. I also usually have one ear open to the world. It’s a trick I learned during my time at the Oshkosh Humane Society that I have perfected over the years. Listening. From the ground up, it’s one of many reasons why we dogs are known as man’s best friend. We listen when we’re asleep. We listen when we’re awake. And when I say we listen, we really listen. Tired from the run

We are present in a way I can’t say all people are, at least from what I’ve observed. I say this with a soft kindness in my heart, because I know it is a skill that takes practice, and not everyone has had the practice necessary to be a good listener. It helps that we can’t talk back, obviously, but it’s more than that. We might not understand all the words that well, but we read emotion like champions.

So I couldn’t help but giggle mentally when I found a scrap of paper dear baby Carter threw on the ground while my forever family ate dinner. According to mom it was something called a fortune from a Chinese cookie. It bothers me that I don’t know who to attribute the quote to (other than to say it was once inside a fortune cookie), but the words stuck with me. “Anyone can hear, but a wise man listens,” the paper read.

Anyone can hear, but a wise man listens. The subtle message in the words is one with which I resonate deeply. I aspire to be wise, which I understand means making wise decisions. Some might argue I’m choosing poorly spending so much time sleeping. I would argue first that I always have one ear open. But more importantly, I would defend myself with the simple truth. I’m resting up.

To be a good dog. To be a good listener. To be a good friend to my people. And it’s because of these things I know there’s a purpose behind everything in life if you chose to listen instead of hear.

 

Moments Like These October 31, 2014

As goblins and ghouls take to the record-settingly chilly streets of my beloved neighborhood for trick or treat tonight, I pause and remember a truth of mine I don’t think I’ve ever shared before. I used to be afraid of the dark. I know it’s an unusual thing for a dog, and I’ve spent the greater part of my canine adult life trying to figure out why.Trick or treat

It isn’t like there is a traumatic event or something involving darkness in my past. Nor is there anything in particular I can recall that aided in my recovery from the admittedly silly aversion I once had. Or so I thought. I found myself pondering this as darkness fell today (it falls earlier and earlier this time of year) and I realized I can indeed trace back the day of my new-found fearlessness.

It was the day after I lost Rusty, my pal from the humane society who was the only reason I survived my first night there. He went down a hallway and never came back that day, but his words stayed with me long after I last saw his wagging tail. He encouraged me to find the light. To see the bright side in even the darkest of situations. And that day, I made the decision to do just that.

My persuasion toward light has never faltered, but somehow my choice that day has led me to find the light in the darkness that dissolves my former fears on an almost daily basis.

Like tonight, as I knew craziness was happening in the darkness on the streets of my neighborhood, something special was happening inside the walls of my forever home. The bedtime routine hasn’t changed much, but dad has gotten more involved with it in the last couple of months. That was the case as usual again tonight, as he held Carter and mom said his bedtime prayers. Carter put his little head on dad’s shoulder and left it there as he drifted peacefully into dreamland almost instantly upon mom’s recital of the prayer. I stood by, as I always do, playing my (albeit silent) role in the whole routine.

I realized in that moment it doesn’t matter how dark it is in the room when this all unfolds. The love illuminates all of our hearts so brightly there is no reason to so much as question the darkness. As we all sneaked silently out of the room, I felt overwhelmed with the warmth of the loving glow in the room. Sometimes I’m in awe of how a decision I made so long ago can have such a profound impact in moments like these.

 

 

My Favorite Time of Day August 23, 2014

Call it magic. Call it truth. Call it magic when I’m with you. Coldplay is a favorite band of mine (and my forever mom). Together we listen to lead singer Chris Martin croon about love and life and the pursuit of happiness on an almost daily basis. While some might think it melancholy, some of the words of one of their latest singles “Magic” came to life for me tonight.Seeing Is Believing

It happened during a bit of time I’ve come to look forward to each day. Not much about the nighttime routine has changed in the last almost eight months since dear baby Carter came home. He still gets the eat, bathe, rock, pray, sleep treatment each and every night. As a four-legged dog of mystery, it’s probably no surprise to anyone that I wholeheartedly support this routine. And not just because dad always gives me a dental bone treat while mom feeds Carter. Much like it is for babies, routine establishes a firm foundation in a dog’s life.

So you can imagine how I feel when it happens every night. It has been going on now for a couple of months, and I hope it never ever stops. Mom has always enjoyed keeping me company while I blog, which I always do after Carter goes to bed for the night. But lately, there is something special that has gotten added to my nighttime routine. I was going to keep it a secret, since it is so special to me that it verges on sacred. But it’s a secret I can’t keep any longer.

Every night at about the same time after Carter is asleep and before I blog, mom and I spend five precious minutes alone together. Sometimes we wrestle around on the bedroom floor. Sometimes we play fetch. But my most favorite activity involves something I’ve shared before called a love fest. She pets me in all of my favorite places and tells me about her day. Moreover, she tells me she loves me at least once. It’s my absolute favorite five minutes of every day.

It’s nothing against dear baby Carter. Or dad for that matter. I just enjoy the time with my forever mom listening to Chris Martin sing about life and love and the pursuit of happiness. That’s what I call magic.

 

A Little Kick October 4, 2013

Habits. Good, bad and ugly, we all have them. Some are so ingrained into our daily routines we probably don’t even realize it’s happening.

Lately I’ve been going about my nights mindlessly following mom. This is not that out of the ordinary, as I love her and would literally follow her anywhere. Consequently, it’s no surprise I get nervous when she gets into that shower contraption. Perhaps its because I know how accident prone my mom is (bless her heart). Perhaps it’s a projection of my own dislike for baths, showers, and all things that take away one’s natural smell. Regardless of my reasons, I think mom senses my discomfort as she always puts a towel down in front of the shower for me to lay on while she’s inside.Happy Happy

Tonight’s shower followed an event I’m not sure I’ll ever forget. It’s almost as if it snapped me from habit mode back to reality. It sent me into a tailspin so intense I wasn’t even sure it was real at first. I thought I certainly must be delusional. There I was, minding my own business, sprawled out on mom and bam! Something was moving! I’ve gotten so used to the calming lull of the baby’s heartbeat, but this was it’s own special kind of magic.

And I will admit – it startled me a bit. I can’t explain why I reacted like I did, rearing up like I would to evoke play with another dog at the park. My tail wagged. My heart raced. The baby is kicking! My little person is saying hi to me! I could hardly believe it.

So when it came to shower time tonight, I was not in doggie robot mode. Far from it. I was on a mission. I have a real live little person to protect after all. Instead of laying down like usual on my special towel, I stood/sat guard while mom showered. And as I did, I’m not sure which worked more furiously – my heart or my mind.

It was a refreshing vacation from my habitual approach to the nighttime routine. Not that habits are such a bad thing. I am a canine after all, and us canines are known for our appreciation of structure and routines. But the magic that happened tonight was a spark all its own. A moment I will remember always. A reminder that sometimes we need a little kick to remind us to pause and appreciate the world around us.

 

Not-So Little Luxuries September 7, 2013

It’s kind of like counting sheep. It’s my understanding people do this sometimes to calm their minds into falling asleep. This would never calm a canine mind (for obvious reasons) but my method sure does bring me peace. I count my blessings.

The list includes the obvious characters who make up daily life (like mom and dad), as well as the less obvious things (like my special spot under my favorite tree in my backyard). Today I noticed something about the list I couldn’t keep from sharing: it never seems to get shorter. Instead, it seems only to grow to include more of the obvious (and not-so-obvious) luxuries in life.

I recognize this in itself is a blessing, and yet it got me to thinking. What would happen if something fell off the list? What if one of life’s not-so-little luxuries went away for some reason? Which could I not live without?

My constant flow of healthy food and water came to mind, followed closely by their (slightly less necessary) tasty counterparts peanut butter and bacon. And Mr. and Mrs. Prickles. Losing them would be a major problem. But I know my people would never let me go hungry. And (as much as I hate to admit it) Mr. and Mrs. Prickles are indeed replaceable (exhibits A and B: Flea and Angry Bird).  My Comfort Circle of Characters

It wasn’t until later in the day I realized what ties the list together. I tend to think through these things around the same times each day. Morning and evening. Both times have something very important in common. My bed. And I’m not talking about the dog bed in the kitchen. Nor do I understand the appeal of a dog bed (which comes home smelling like a factory) compared to a people bed (which contains all of the smells of our people us dogs long to be near at all times).

My SpotIt was not an easy battle to conquer either. I took mom down first with what I fondly refer to as “the look” combined with my persuasive cuddling skills. Getting dad to agree to the arrangement was a whole other game entirely. I had to be strategic about it. And patient. Until one night (after more than two years of effort on my part) “the look” and my cuddling skills struck again.

Since then I’ve secured my spot in the bed and I will not let it go for all the dog treats in the world. It’s ridiculously comfortable. It smells heavenly. And it’s where I count my blessings at morning and at night. But the more I think about it, I suppose even the bed itself is replaceable at least to a certain extent. Because (as much as it is indeed the coziest bit of people-smelling cloud a dog could ask for) it’s so much more than a bed.

As American screenwriter Francis Ford Coppola reminds us “I like simplicity; I don’t need luxury.” I suppose I don’t need luxury either. I just need my people. It’s that simple. So as I count my blessings tonight from my perch on the bed, I give thanks not for the comfy cloud itself. Rather I give thanks for its representation of the love I have for my people, and their love for me. Ultimately I think that is the luxury I truly could not live without.