Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Trick or Treat October 26, 2013

There’s not a lot I would change about myself. I guess you could say love has made me confident. I stand proud, head held high, ears up, tail wagging. And no one is going to break me down. I am who I am.

I can’t say it’s always been that way. I, like anyone, have had my fair share of ups and downs with self esteem. (Being thought of as a clearance puppy comes to mind). But I’ve come to understand all of my past as an important part of my present. Challenge builds character, whether or not we like it (or realize it) at the time.

This is why I was initially a little confused by this thing called Halloween. People dress up as all kinds of things other than who they really are. Ghosts and goblins and vampires and witches. Why not instead celebrate who they are rather than focusing time, energy (and from what I understand sometimes a great deal of money) on the perfect costume?

I’ll tell you why. It’s fun. There is something kind of dangerous and exciting about putting yourself aside to become another character, if only for a day.

So today I became the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz. It is a character with whom I identify closely, especially as I have begun to better understand the relationship between fear and purpose. Like me, the lion began his story blinded by a fear that had a negative hold on his self esteem. It took courage for him to understand that fear has no place in life. Given my own personal backstory, it was the perfect costume.

My trick or treat dates (otherwise known as a few of my favorite little people) were also dressed to impress. They included a ninja warrior, a flapper girl and Scarlett O’Hara. Together, we walked the streets of Grandma Schmidt’s neighborhood collecting a plethora of goodies that I can’t have.

I didn’t mind that (too much) though. Because it was fun. And underneath by lion getup I was still me. A little dog with a big heart. Even “in character” I want to share joy from the ground up with whomever will take it. I think that’s the secret to this whole Halloween thing.

Rather than seek to change everything about who you are, you ought to find a creative way to embrace it. Stand proud, with your head held high and your heart beating strong. Because at the end of the day we are ourselves again. And (whether we realize it or not) who we are is something pretty special.

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The Same In Any Language October 21, 2013

He was patient. He was kind and gentle. And he fooftered. A lot. These are the things people are saying about my dear doggie cousin Scotty tonight. At the age of 12 1/2 he has left us for the Rainbow Bridge, and I can’t help but join the family in mourning his loss.

We All Have A StoryBut there’s this thing I need to share about Scotty and I. We didn’t exactly get along. This is not for lack of trying on either of our parts. We were family. And we liked each other. Scotty the greyhound and Wiley the terrier just didn’t really speak the same language. When we would get together at family functions, he would relax in what I deemed his “spot” somewhere in the middle of the living room floor. I would try with all my might to entice him into a game of chase. I wagged and jumped and pawed. And he laid there, calm as a cucumber, often in a deep and peaceful slumber. I’d never really met a dog like him before.

It all made sense when I learned more about his background. We all have a story and Scotty was no different. He spent the first five years of his life as a working dog at a greyhound race track. I can’t imagine what that must have been like, but I can testify to the quirks that became part of his unique personality as a result.

I adapted pretty easily to my forever home when I was adopted because I was used to the same things many of us rescue dogs are accustomed to. To a greyhound like Scotty on the other hand, a home was a whole new way of life. It was like a new chapter, a fresh start, and (best of all) it incorporated characters into his life like Ken and Sue (his forever people). I can tell from the time we spent together they loved him deeply, which is all any dog really ever strives for. Though I’m not even sure he knew he was a dog. In his mind he was a companion.

Scotty lived a full life as what I would describe as a servant leader. He may not have understood play, but he understood patience (which is not exactly the norm in us canines). It was with this unique sense of patience he taught me you can like each other an awful lot but sometimes you just don’t speak the same language. And that’s okay because the basic lessons of life are the same in any language.

I’ve said before all characters enter our life for a reason. I know Scotty entered mine to teach me some very important life lessons. He was patient. He was kind and gentle. He knew how to make people laugh (because let’s face it – foofters are just a fact of life). Most importantly, he taught us to live in the present. Now is the time. Not yesterday and not tomorrow. Now.

I know if he were here, he would likely agree with the words of Roman philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero who suggested “it is foolish to tear one’s hair in grief, as though sorrow would be made less by baldness.” So while I know he wouldn’t want those of us left behind to be sad (or tear out our fur for that matter), I take this moment (my own personal now) to pause and reflect on all things Scotty.

Rest in peace, dear friend. You will be missed.

Scotty

 

Our Own Light September 30, 2013

The light turns on at the flip of a switch. The food in the fridge tonight will most likely be the same food in the fridge in the morning. My toys will not come alive and run away while I sleep. These are all pieces of life that seem obvious. Given. Understood. Yet under the right (or wrong) conditions, it could all change in a moment.

Life has taught me a very important lesson about this: don’t take a single thing for granted because you never know when electricity will fail, the food will spoil and the toys will wreak havoc on the world. All right, so the last one seems pretty impossible, but so does what is happening in our beloved United States of America tonight.Standing For What's Right

United we are not, at least right now. As I type, the possibility of a government shutdown looms on the minds of Americans. Something that seems so given, so understood, so basic – it could literally shut down tonight. I’d rather not get into the politics of the situation because I don’t believe in fighting for something one way or another that you don’t fully comprehend. Instead I find myself wishing I could somehow pause real life and spend some time living in the White House tonight. I’d get to know Bo (the First Dog) and we could brainstorm together on how to keep things light amidst a challenging situation.

I guess that’s what I think is important in times like this, at least in my humble doggie opinion. When the given becomes a question and the norm shifts, it’s how we persevere that defines what comes next. Sure, it would probably be pretty easy for Bo and I to get carried away playing chase and causing trouble, but that’s not what anyone needs right now. People need joy. Faith. Hope.

It’s all to easy to get swept away with the politics of it all, but the concept remains the same as if that switch doesn’t turn on. We must make our own light in these situations.  We must rise above and learn from our mistakes. Because sometimes our biggest challenges morph into fundamental building blocks of personal identity. I don’t know what’s going to happen to the American government in the next few days, but I know what not to take for granted. Character. Integrity. Honor. These titles are earned. Not given.