Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Listen Here Baby November 1, 2013

I wish babies could read minds. If they could, I have a few messages I’d like to communicate through my mom’s baby bump. Some are subliminal (preparing him or her for a future as my best friend forever, for example). Others are growing in importance to me by the day.

If I could send a message tonight it would be for my soon-to-be little person to quit being a tease. At 29 weeks, mom has been feeling somersaults and practice breaths for several weeks now. And it brings her such joy (even in the night when I know that is what’s waking her). But lately every time the baby is dancing and mom tries to help dad feel the activity one of two things happen. Either the movement is too tiny for dad to feel or the baby choses that moment to stop hearing the music altogether.I'm Talking To You

They looked so blissful there for a few minutes – dad with his hand on mom’s bump, with mom’s hand on top of his. I could see the excitement in both of their faces as they waited. But they waited. And kept waiting. And finally, patience gave way to disappointment for all parties involved.

“Hey listen here baby,” I thought with all my doggie might, “get moving so dad can finally feel what all of the fuss is about.” No response. I looked at my people and wished at least for them to be able to hear me remind them to find joy even in the disappointment. No response.

You would think that five years of doggie life would teach me my messages don’t always cross the language barrier. It’s not the first time I’ve sent the baby a silent instant message that was never received. And I know it certainly won’t be the last. Not only that, but I feel for dad as a bystander in this whole process. I know he worries about whether he’s being supportive enough, or saying the right thing, or doing his part to prepare the house for the baby. I know because I feel the same way.

But patience is virtue as they say. Perhaps that is among the lessons meant to be learned from all of this. I’m no mind reader myself, but I can see that pregnancy has brought to life a patience in the Schmidt house that unites us all. We all just can’t wait to meet the little person already.

If only I could somehow “adopt the pace of nature” as transcendentalist thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson described, as “her secret is patience.” While a good reminder, I must admit that knowing this secret doesn’t change things for me. I still wish babies could read minds.


No Backspace Button October 20, 2013

I stick my foot in my mouth all the time. Literally. It’s part of my daily grooming routine. A nibble here and there is as second nature to me as scratching an itchy ear with my foot or licking a sore paw. But I’m no dummy.

Keyboard of LifeI know the same can not be said of people, who have the luxury of hands to do a lot of these types of things. Also, I think it would be pretty challenging (albeit funny) to see them try. Literally. I think it would be a struggle.

And yet it apparently happens all the time. Figuratively. As a professional people watcher, I have picked a few things up over the years and this is one of the most interesting to me. People say really stupid things. Whether its something they don’t really mean said in an argument or a random comment out of the blue, it happens all the time. And for as often that I wish I could speak, I glory in my silence when I happen to overhear these moments of ignorance.

That’s just it. Ignorance. And let me tell you, from what I’ve seen of it, ignorance is not bliss. Nor does it excuse the behavior of saying things you don’t mean. I think that’s the challenging part. More often than not, regret follows this note of ignorance. But the moment has passed and the words were said and they cannot be taken back. Words are powerful tools, and when they get used as weapons context gives way to emotion. It makes for a very messy situation.

It brings to mind the wise words of Audrey Hepburn who suggested that “for beautiful eyes, look for the good in others. For beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness. And for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.”

I’ve thought about it and now it’s time to speak up. I might look silly nibbling on my back paw from time to time, but it turns out people do it all the time too. And it hurts. But it isn’t the end of the world either. It happens. A lot. And while that doesn’t excuse anything, it does make us very familiar with the practice of moving on. I’ve always said everything is worthwhile if a lesson is learned. Well, in this case I think the lesson is crystal clear. Think before you speak. Because you can’t take it back. There is no backspace button on the keyboard of life.


Bursts of Love May 25, 2013

A day in the life of a dog is pretty simple. Generally we wake, eat, go outside, sleep, go for a weather-permitting walk or run, eat, sleep, play, sleep. Such is life. But every once in a while, the routine is uprooted into utter madness that results in nothing but pure joy. That was today for me.

Happy to Be AliveIt started like a normal Saturday, with a little extra sleep with my forever mom and dad in the morning, followed by my usual breakfast of health food (it’s supposedly “better for me” than the really yummy stuff) and my morning date with my backyard. The chill in the air kept my parents from doing the planting and yard work they slated for the day, so they got ready to go somewhere and I assumed I was staying behind like I usually do when they run “errands” (which is all right with me since it sounds exhausting).

But mom surprised dad and I both when she grabbed my walking harness and beloved leash and declared I was accompanying them to the farmer’s market. I’d only been a few times prior and oh dog, was I excited! When we got there, I instantly made friends with a couple of little people named Jillian and Max. They reached down to pet me and Jillian hugged me goodbye when her mom said it was time to go.

It was all downhill from there. I know this isn’t my first farmer’s market rodeo, but it sure felt like it. I was overwhelmed by all the sights, sounds and smells of everything. So many little people and adults and dogs and birds and booths filled with yummy-smelling things! My senses were on overload, and I can’t say I particularly enjoyed myself. It didn’t make sense to me. I love everything I encountered at the market – why couldn’t I enjoy it?

I encountered a similar sense of self-doubt when we made a subsequent surprise stop at the local dog park on the way home. Mom said she wanted me to “wear off some steam.” (Yet another instance I wish I could invent the next technological revolution: a dog-to-human translation device). I didn’t need to let off steam, I wanted to tell her, I just needed to think. The dog park, a place where I usually find bliss in running free with my fellow four-legged friends, was lost on me today. It was teaming with triple the dogs as usual, and again I felt overwhelmed by it all. It didn’t make sense to me. I love running around like a ninny at the dog park – why couldn’t I enjoy it today?The Good Life

I finally got my answer when I was back at home and my parents were doing some of the yard work they vowed earlier in the day not to do “in the cold.” They took a break to snack on peanuts and watermelon and they shared some with me (a rare occasion in the Schmidt house). And there the three of us sat, soaking in the albeit chilly fresh air. That’s when it hit me.

Today was a day filled with so much joy, but I had to stop and acknowledge the small pieces of the puzzle in order to make sense of the chaos around me. What’s that the great and infamous “they” say about eating an elephant one bite at a time? Well, today was an elephant of joy, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Next time I just need to take it all in, one small piece at a time, and I will be better enabled to feel the joy the big ole world has to offer me.

A day in the life of a dog is pretty simple. Generally we wake, eat, go outside, sleep, go for a weather-permitting walk or run, eat, sleep, play, sleep. Such is life. But every once in a while, the routine is uprooted into utter madness that results in nothing but pure joy. We need these days every now and then, where we are so overwhelmed with emotion that we feel like we’re going to burst. Mom calls these moments “bursts of love,” and I suppose that’s what today was for me. A big ole overwhelming burst of love for all the people, places and things in my life.