Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

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.

 

Won’t Back Down June 22, 2013

I made at least 76 different people smile today. I’m not certain of the exact number but I don’t need to know that to know how happy this makes me. Today mom took me to Fido Fest, a local celebration of all things canine. And it was fabulous. There were hundreds (maybe even thousands) of dogs of so many different shapes, sizes and breeds. It was a sight to be seen.

So we seized the day and shared my joy from the ground up with whomever would take it. Literally. This morning mom printed off 150 fliers with my silly face on it promoting the blog. We got to the festival, found a good spot, and I stood proudly by her side as we handed out the fliers. I thought it would be fun but that optimism faded away a lot sooner than I could have imagined.

The first person who walked by said no thank you. The second person didn’t say anything. The third just waved her free hand at us while her Westie (who was wearing a doggie visor) glanced at me apologetically from her perch in what appeared to be a doggie stroller. I didn’t understand. Why would anyone say no thank you to a daily dose of joy? Why would anyone ignore a smile? Why would you wave away a happy moment in your day?

That’s when I felt my proverbial foot start to tap to the beat of a familiar anthem of anyone who has been told “no one too many times. “Well I know what’s right, I got just one life in a world that keeps on pushin’ me around but I’ll stand my ground and I won’t back down.” Thank you, Tom Petty, for reminding me of my true purpose.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that things turned around in that moment. People started taking the fliers, reading them as they walked away, and turning around to smile at mom and I after taking a couple steps. They turned back around and smiled. At least 76 different people turned around and smiled. Thanks (in part) to the various kinds of distractions that made up my surroundings, I lost count after that.

 

Happiness Defined January 7, 2013

I tried something new today. I was thinking about living my gratitude, so I started the day with Simple Abundance and didn’t tell anyone about it. I read about taking note of things that make me happy and was reminded of my commitment to be a lantern of love for my mom this year. So I took notes of things that made her happy today and the strangest thing happened. A little while ago, she was talking to my grandma (her mom), who paid me the very highest of compliments (without even knowing it). Mom had grandma on speakerphone so I could hear the conversation…Mom laughed and her mom stopped the conversation cold and took notice.

“It’s so nice to hear you laughing,” grandma said, “It makes me happy knowing you’re so happy.” Even I could hear the implications of what she was saying. She hadn’t heard my mom laugh like that in a while. She was taking notice of that. And that made me happy. Funny how that works.

Its not like today was anything that spectacular, but that’s not what matters. Today I was looking…watching everything that made mom smile. “What is missing from many of our days is a true sense that we are enjoying the lives we are living,” Breathnach writes. “…Let us consider our personal preferences and learn how to recognize, then embrace, moments of happiness that are uniquely our own.”

Silly as this list may sound, here it is:

1. Working out. We woke up at a decent time, she got on this new bicycle contraption we have in the bedroom and she spent some time one it. Then, its like her contagious happiness spread to me. We went for our first walk since she had her leg surgery. It was short, but I loved it. And so did she. I could tell because I know we walked farther than she probably enjoyed. I could tell because on the way back home, she walked with a bigger limp than when we left home. But it didn’t affect her smile.

On the Road Again2. Car ride. Two of my favorite people words together in one happy phrase. The car ride followed her time on the bicycle and our walk. I love car rides. Mom knows that. She smiled when I tried to get into the driver’s seat with her, even though I know I’m not supposed to and she had to push me away right away.

3. Yummy food. When we got back from our car ride, she spent some time in the kitchen, which I know is one of her happy places. She made some sort of chicken-scented goodness that smelled like heaven, and when she was done eating, you’d better believe I scavenged for the leftovers like never before. And mom smiled all the while. Happiness: Its a Hard Knock Life

4. Friends. She talked to a few friends whose names I recognized today. She smiled the whole time.

5. Insightful movies. We watched them together. The first one was called Butter, which (I know) sounds ridiculous, but it was surprisingly adorable. I do quite enjoy butter (I’ve been known to lick it off towels in private after mom has put a pie in the oven), but the plotline was equally enticing. Then there was this movie Ruby Sparks. It opened with what promised to be a charming tale of a writer and his dog…so you can see why I would be intrigued. As an aspiring writer myself, it was a love-at-first-sight kind of love story. It ends back in the hands of the writer and his dog, and among many insightful things, the writer says “Any writer can attest that in the luckiest, happiest state the words are not coming from you, but through you.” Mom cried at the end.

A Dog and his Work

I learned something with my little experiment today. Happiness is contagious.