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.

 

In An Instant August 7, 2013

It doesn’t sound real. It sounds a bit like one of those stories that show up next to the alien encounter reports in the tabloids. It’s just too terrible to be real.

Yet it seems it’s true (or at least allegedly true, per the legal jargon). A 45-year-old Washington man recently blew up his daughter’s dog because he believed it “had the devil in it.” The man, named Christopher Dillingham, is accused of strapping explosives to Cabela’s neck, which killed her immediately upon impact. As if that’s not bad enough, it took several days for animal cruelty charges to be added due to what I would argue is a technicality. Since the lab was killed instantly, state legislators claimed at first it technically couldn’t be considered cruelty.

Plenty of things happen instantly, but from what I can tell that never negates the severity. On the contrary, it is in these seemingly unimportant moments that lives change forever. Disaster rarely strikes when we’re expecting it, so I generally think preparing for the worst is a waste of emotional resources. Instead I hope for the best. In An Instant

But in this case I see no best. I am struggling to find a silver lining. Sure, the man is in jail on charges of criminal mischief, reckless endangerment, possession of explosives, and (a few days later) animal cruelty. And I don’t know a lot about people money but I do know $500,000 is a large amount for bail. But this man took a dog’s life. When a person takes another person’s life, it doesn’t matter how quickly it happens. Murder is murder. Cabela will bring joy to that little girl no more.

I have nothing positive to say about this. Truth be told, the whole thing breaks my little doggie heart. It doesn’t even sound like a real story. But it is real, to both the little girl left behind and Ty Freemantle, who gave Cabela to the family six months ago. To them, she was family.

To one who doesn’t cross over to this side of the thinking bridge very often, I’m finding this negativity thing exhausting. And I don’t plan to make a habit of it. Still I find some peace tonight in preparing for the worst. In embracing my family with all my heart. In counting my blessings and giving thanks for everyone I know. In breathing. Because at any instant it could all be gone.

 

If Dogs Ruled The World June 13, 2013

There’s a lot of controversy in politics today. I don’t know a lot about it, but from what I gather from the television a lot of people spend a lot of time debating a lot of things that may or may not actually come to pass in the legal system. While I wouldn’t dare imply these conversations are anything other than necessary stepping stones to the betterment of the world we live in, sometimes I feel like there’s far too much talk leading to not enough action.Love in Truth, Truth in Love

Maybe its the canine in my brain. Most of us dogs act before we think. We make decisions based on impulse rather than a process of deduction or inference. I know (in my mind) it’s not safe to chase that rabbit into the street but it doesn’t stop me from doing it anyway. That grape that falls to the floor could kill my doggie kidneys, but I gulp it up anyway. And (on a more serious note) my instinct is to share my joy with the world even though I’m not certain how eloquently my intentions translate.

Understanding this fundamental difference in processing, I wonder sometimes what it would be like if dogs ruled the world. I have often dreamed of myself in a suit and tie making my way up the steps of Capitol Hill. (This little guy has big thoughts to share with the world.) In my dream, I stand to represent all other dogs wishing to make a difference in the lives of people. I walk my way up to the podium with my list of bills I wish to present for consideration to become laws, I dust off my pants, and I begin.

Love your neighbor as yourself, I say.

And the dream always ends the same way – with the room in an uproar of laughter at my (allegedly ridiculous) proposal. I don’t even get to say my other ideas (like including putting an end to animal cruelty) before I’m escorted away from the podium. I always wake feeling completely and utterly helpless. Feeling helpless is the absolute worst, especially when I know in my heart that us dogs have an abundance of love to share with the world.

So I stand by my idea, even if I never get my moment in Washington DC. To me, we could all use a visit back to basics. I don’t care what those people in my dream think. Like ancient Greek philosopher Plato, I stand for love and its power to change the world.

“Love is the joy of the good, the wonder of the wise, the amazement of the Gods,” Plato said.

There’s a lot of controversy in politics today I feel could be solved with some simple doggie truths that are fundamental to our way of life. Listen when you wish you could speak. Love when you want to hate. Make change when you feel comfortable with the status quo. And (perhaps most important of all) stand proudly when others sit because you believe in the power of truth in love.

 

This Time Around April 9, 2013

I wonder sometimes if I can really call myself an optimist if I believe in second chances. Heck, what if I believe in third, fourth and fifth chances? Doesn’t that afford a certain negativity in the underlying reality that a second, third or fourth chance means admitting failure at some point? Today I realized it is (in fact) the opposite.

“Today, declare to the Universe that you are open to receiving all the abundance it’s patiently waiting to bestow,” Sarah Ban Breathnach writes in Simple Abundance. “Each day offers us the gift of being a special occasion if we can simply learn that as well as giving, it is blessed to receive with grace and a grateful heart.”

Like most things, opportunities are all about perspective. Just as the glass can look half empty to one person What Do You Say To Second Chances?and half full to another, a second chance on something can be a blessing instead of an admission of failure. April is Prevention of Cruelty to Animals month, so what better opportunity to root for second chances for animals all over the world? Beaten, abused, and neglected animals deserve a second chance too, and believe me – they don’t see it as an admission of failure.

There is this thing about being a rescue dog. Like many, I was beaten, abused and neglected before I learned how to turn fear to purpose in my life.

I found rescue in the shelter of the humane society. I would call that my second chance. I was adopted and the family decided I wasn’t a good fit for their situation, so I found rescue in the shelter of the humane society. Again. I would call that my third and fourth chance. It wasn’t until my fifth chance with my forever family that I found my true purpose in life. Time with my forever parents has made me realize how much more powerful my joy is when shared with others, and to bring purpose to some of the things in life that used to frighten me.

But I wouldn’t say those first few chances were completely for naught. Indeed I would argue the opposite. I learned valuable lessons in each of the paths I’ve taken in life, and I wouldn’t trade any of those experiences for all the dog treats in the world.

A second chance is a blessing, not a disappointment. As such, I think an optimist would believe in second chances, not because of the inherent understanding of failure in the first opportunity, but because the glass doesn’t get emptier with each try. That’s the point of optimism, isn’t it? To see the glass half full (of potential, happiness, and all other good things) regardless of how full it might actually be?