Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

To Be Young Again December 22, 2014

American businessman, humanitarian and poet Samuel Ullman once wrote “Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind; it is a matter of the will, quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions; it is the freshness of the deep springs of life.”

I’ve come to believe this as truth in the six and a half people years I’ve been around. That youth is indeed a state of mind, something a person (or dog, in my case) is capable of choosing to embrace, regardless of the number of years they’ve walked the Earth. Still, there are times I admit to feeling old. Wiley and Joey

It happens sometimes when I spend time with dear aunt Morgan’s dog, Joey. He’s five years my junior, and you don’t have to be a dog person to see the difference in our personalities. I’ve mellowed over time, coming to enjoy my time to rest, reflect and enjoy a general sense of peace. Joey on the other hand is full of spirit all the time. He never stops. Moving, jumping, playing, spinning. He’s a bundle of energy.

I haven’t met him yet, but I’m sure the newest doggie member of my extended forever family is the exact same way. I’m happy to report that the family that recently lost 15-year-old Mocha to the Rainbow Bridge has adopted a new German Shorthair Pointer named Jackson.

Jackson

The parents were here at dear baby Carter’s Winter One-derland birthday party on Saturday, and when they got home arranged to have the new family dog wrapped up in its fancy new crate in what has become his forever home. He is only a few weeks old, and I am so incredibly happy for him to have found such a loving family so early in his life. Moreover, I’m overjoyed for the family to have found a special new doggie soul to fill the emptiness they felt after losing Mocha. And, after 15 very special years with the family, I know Mocha would feel the same way.

Because that’s the thing about getting older. Sure, there are days when I feel old. But I believe you can decide to be young at heart in spite of the inevitable creaks and cracks that accompany the aging process. You can dream about tomorrow in connection to yesterday. You can feel renewed in each day. Best of all, you can live the wisdom you’ve acquired.

 

Window to the Soul November 15, 2014

I’ve always wondered what it would be like. It certainly isn’t something I think I’ll ever be able to do. I’m not sure whether to be disappointed about that, since mostly I’m in appreciative awe of anyone who has done it.

My people did it when they adopted me on that hot summer day all those years ago. They didn’t just give me a safe place to live with a constant supply of food, water, and toys. They gave me love. They gave me a home. They gave me a life.

Me and my number one fanThat is what adoption does for us shelter dogs, after all. A life saver. This is not to say shelter life is all that bad. I was well tended to during my tenure at the Oshkosh Humane Society. But it’s not the same. It’s not the same as laying down your head each night knowing you are loved.

And I don’t think I’m alone in saying that as an adopted shelter dog, I know first paw it goes beyond that. A life without purpose is no life at all. I always thought I knew my life’s purpose. Then I was adopted and it was like everything came into focus.

“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can’t repay you,” suggested Christian writer John Bunyan.

 

I can never repay my people for giving me such a blessed forever home. But I can show my gratitude for finding meaning in my life. My purpose is to love my people with all my doggie heart. To bring them joy in all I do. To cheer them up when they are sad, and to snuggle them when they are cold. My purpose is to live my love for them. To fill an emptiness they didn’t even know they have. It’s a big job, but I’m honored they have chosen me to take it on. Especially since a labor of love is never work as far as I’m concerned. It’s life.

I don’t think I’ll ever know what it feels like to save a life. But that doesn’t mean I can’t be an advocate for my fellow four-leggers out there in America’s shelters who need a good home. Take it from me. It’s more than a home. It’s a life.

 

To Be Loved October 23, 2014

It took a the better part of a Chicken McNugget Happy Meal. And patience, lots and lots of patience. Oh, and I guess there was some laying on the ground involved, too (though that doesn’t sound so bad to me). After all of this, a dog named Cricket now knows how it feels to be loved.

About a week ago, I shared a story of a hero of mine named Emily, who took a good deal of time out of her life to rescue two stray dogs in her neighborhood in Dallas, Texas. A patriot for rescue dogs, she over the span of a couple of weeks personally took on the emotionally tasking job of reeling in the dogs, who she named Dallas and Cricket. It wasn’t easy for Emily or the dogs, as she worked diligently to earn their trust.Feeling thoughtful

It was easier for Dallas, who only took a few days before he recognized her as the hero she is. Cricket was a bit more stubborn. Because of my own personal experiences with the man with the leather belt, I know all too well some possible reasons for her hesitation. I don’t blame her one bit.

But I also know the love of a person. I know how warm my heart feels when I snuggle with my forever family. I know joy, from the ground up. I live these things each and every day because someone like Emily took the time to do the same for me.

So it is with the sincerest sense of glee that I report the good news. It took four Chicken McNuggets. And patience. And even some time laying on the pavement (which apparently is something people don’t usually do). But dear Emily earned Cricket’s trust a few days after she did the same for Dallas. And now both are together again at a fabulous place called ARROW Dog Rescue, on the path to being adopted into forever homes.

Persistence is a very powerful thing on its own. Combine it with passion? You’ve got a recipe for success. Or, at least in this case, you’ve got a recipe for a fresh start for two very fortunate dogs. Especially in the technological age of all things text message and Snapchat, it is so important to reach out to others because you never know who will reach back. And to me, it’s a lesson not only in selflessness, but in the importance of staying true to your beliefs. Staying true to yourself. Fighting for what’s important. It’s a lesson in not just living life, but making it a better place to be.

 

 

To Be Rescued October 15, 2014

There are moments in life when you just don’t want to hear it. Moments when you would much rather stew in your misery or frustration or grief about whatever challenges you face. The dreaded words “everything happens for a reason” are the absolute last thing you want to hear. They offer you no peace in that moment. No rest. And they certainly don’t make the original problem go away. They are a line of garbage.

Except that they’re absolutely and completely 100 percent true. In spite of a few emotional battles, I’ve always known it. And, as I have followed a story of a two-legged friend of mine during the past week, I know it in my bones. Her name is Emily, and she is my hero.

A patriot for rescue dogs, she in the last several days has personally taken on the emotionally tasking job of reeling in two stray dogs near her neighborhood in Dallas, Texas. It hasn’t been easy, for Emily or the dogs, who she has since named Dallas and Cricket.

She has worked diligently to earn their trust, leaving out food and water for them for several days and keeping her distance until they were ready. She unsuccessfully attempted to enlist help from neighbors. Sadly, she learned that the area where she found the dogs was a common dumping ground for strays. She was heartbroken to learn of this, not only for the dogs, but for the people who have become completely desensitized to the problem.

Beyond all of this, she cared. She cared enough to put her life (and the immediate needs of her beloved dog, Lupy) on hold. She cared enough to be patient. She cared enough to make a difference. Why? She had two touching reasons I believe are better shared in her words.

I believe God doesn’t give up on people, no matter how much they push away, or have doubts or are scared and my overwhelming sense of love toward this dog I don’t even know must be miniscule in comparison to the love God feels for his creation. The words ‘whatever you do unto the least of these’ and I don’t care if some people argue that that was only meant about people, I don’t think it was, I think God wants us to care for his creation dearly. So even when I start losing hope when she runs away from me, or when I’m not able to slip the leash over her head, I just keep thinking of those two things and how even if I can do good in my small corner of the world, it’s never futile even if the result isn’t the miraculous one I’m hoping for.

Everything happens for a reason. From the ground up, I’m guessing Dallas and Cricket didn’t want to hear it. For whatever reason, they had both lost all hope in people. For all we know, they had both lost all hope in life itself.

But now, thanks to the passionate persistence of one person, Dallas is set to be adopted. There is more work to be done for Cricket, who really likes cheese and peanut butter but still needs to work on her trust issues. The point is Emily hasn’t given up. And because of that, Dallas and Cricket will have forever homes. They will know what it’s like to be rescued. They will know what it’s like to feel the love of a person. Take it from me, there is no greater thing.

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Stranger Danger October 5, 2014

I’ve never been sure whether to take it as a compliment or a criticism. I’ve heard mom say it a bunch when she’s trying to wrangle me in at the end of a visit to the dog park. I’ve heard her say it when we’re walking around the neighborhood. And, I’m not too proud to say, I’ve heard her say it when I’ve run away. I’m a fickle dog. I’d go home with anyone.

Truth be told, I’ve always thought she was right. Call it a self-fulfilling prophecy, but I fear it has become one of those things that may or may not have been true that I have come to believe as truth because of how many times I’ve heard it.

That all changed today. I was on the floor with dear baby Carter. We were playing around with his big huge box my beloved people recently crafted into a discover fort. There are circles and triangles and squares and he loves it so much when he sees me through one of the “windows” even though I think he’s pretty silly since I’ve obviously been there all along. Deep thinking Wiles

But today as I enjoyed play time with him, I thought about him meeting strangers. And I didn’t like it. I didn’t like the idea of him going home with another doggie at the dog park. I didn’t like the thought of him living in some other forever home in my neighborhood. And I certainly don’t like thinking about what would happen to him (let alone my people) if he ever ran away.

So I guess you could say the tables have turned. I used to think maybe I could go home with anyone, just like mom always said. I never was sure whether to think of it as a compliment or a criticism. And I certainly love many, just as I always say I do. But while I may have thought all of these things were possible from myself, I learned an important lesson from Carter today. I find that’s been happening lately. Whether I like it or not, this little person who screeches and pulls my fur and says “doggie” now has started teaching me things. Who would have thought.

I learned to more carefully live the philosophy I’ve proclaimed as mine. Love many, trust few, always paddle your own canoe. Unless it’s with my forever family. I’d paddle them to wherever they want to go. Because there are things that make us uniquely us. There is a language that is uniquely ours. And I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

 

 

A Poem From the Ground Up June 17, 2014

Joy

I thought I knew what it

looked like

But

I had no idea

Joy

I’m convinced of this one thing

that from the ground up

it always looks different

It did for me

Joy

Existed when I was with my birth mom and brothers

I loved them and

I knew joy then

albeit brief

Joy

Prevailed when I was with Jo and the man

with the leather belt

I loved Jo

and I chose joy

Joy

Survived when I was on my own

on the streets

Even then

I had friends

Joy

Happened when I met my forever mom and dad

for the first time

I knew joy then

forever

Joy

Lived when I met my little person

so teeny tiny

I knew real joy

in that moment

Joy

I thought I knew what it

looked like

But

I had no idea because

Joy

From the ground up

it’s pretty special

to me

because it is one of those things

Joy

It always looks different

to everyone yet

it looks

the same

to me

I dedicate the above poem to my mom, a published poet at the tender age of 15 people years old, who helped me piece together my thoughts in response to today’s daily prompt.Happy Blogging!

 

On Our Way April 23, 2014

It might sound like madness. And it doesn’t work with everyone. In fact, there are probably a lot more people it doesn’t work with than it does. But I have this trick. It’s kind of a signature move of mine, if I have such a thing. I jump until someone catches me.

I remember the first time it happened like it was yesterday. I was new to my forever home and I was in my backyard paradise with my new forever mom. She patted her legs with her hands and said “up” and I did it. Without a second thought, I jumped right into her arms.

It wasn’t long before I started responding to anyone who did that gesture with my signature move. My aunt Morgan. My mom’s friend Andi. Anyone who patted their legs in that certain way had a Wiley in their arms shortly thereafter.

I’m not sure who trained who when it comes to this particular behavior, if I’m being honest. But lately I have noticed it doesn’t work quite as well. Because lately when my forever mom and dad leave the house they do so with that big old car seat and a diaper bag and whatever other accessories are required for baby Carter. And without me.

At least most of the time when I know I would have otherwise been invited on whatever journey was about to ensue I now hear the dreaded “stay” word. At first it bothered me a little. At first I cursed the dreaded “stay” word. But today I realized that is silliness. Riding with the homies

I still have my fair share of adventures. In fact, I dreamed today of some places I would like to travel. I hear there is a camp for dogs and their people in Vermont where you can square dance. In San Diego, there are beaches that allow dogs to roam and swim freely. Austin Texas apparently has a bunch of dog parks to explore.

I can’t say for certain whether I will ever make it to these places. But I can confirm the madness. Because as my favorite transcendentalist thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson put it “though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.”

There is something special that happens when I make it into the arms of my forever mom before a journey. And it doesn’t matter if the extent of that journey is a car ride to the grocery store. Joy. From the ground up, it happens in those moments for my mom and I. We carry each other in those moments. Because it doesn’t matter where you’re going in life as much as who you’re going there with.

 

 

Love’s Heartbeat March 5, 2014

Filed under: Man's Best Friend — Wiley Schmidt @ 10:30 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

I’ve seen it a million times in the last couple of months. So I’m not sure how I didn’t notice it sooner. A single moment transported me through time today, and I’m so thankful it did.

In the blink of an eye I was back with my birth mom and brothers all of those years ago. I was just a little pup and we were settling into our new locale on a chilly winter’s night. I didn’t give it a second thought and simply did what I always would do in that situation. I scrunched my shivering little body as small as I could, cuddled into mom, and listened for her heartbeat. As chaotic and uncertain as our lives were at that point, her heartbeat brought me peace. Stability. Hope. Cuddles

I felt these things today in such an powerfully different yet ironically similar way. I was snuggling myself into the cuddle fest unfolding between mom and baby Carter when it happened. I stopped an assessed the situation, really taking in what was happening. And there he was, scrunching his little body as small as he could, cuddled up into mom, listening for her heartbeat. She is home to him, just as my birth mom was home to me once upon a time. Her heartbeat brings him peace. Stability. Hope. As it does the same for me.

I’ve seen it a million times in the last couple of months. I’ve also done it myself about that many times. Cuddling. From the ground up, it’s a pretty powerful thing. I know scientists are convinced we dogs just do it for the warmth. They couldn’t be more wrong. Now I know it more than ever before. In those cuddles we are each other’s heartbeat. In those cuddles we are home.

 

Seeking Selflessness February 15, 2014

Her name was Olivia. And she was the most beautiful spaniel mix I’d ever seen. Granted, I only saw her on a computer screen and didn’t actually meet her in person. But mom did and she tells me she was pretty swell. At the tender age of two months old, she was a black and brown bundle of puppyhood joy. And she almost became part of my forever family today.

My dear aunt Morgan has been searching for her first fur baby of her own for more than a year. She has been through a lot on her search, from moments of heartbreak to moments of hope. She has fallen in love with dachshunds and terriers and bearded collies of all ages and sizes. She has considered buying a purebred of some kind, but would really prefer to rescue.

And today she thought for sure she had finally found her match. Olivia looked into her eyes and she just knew. That is, until she didn’t. Mom was there with her to help make this big decision and she tells me they were fetching the adoption paperwork when my dear aunt Morgan did a completely selfless thing. She changed her mind.

Ultimately she couldn’t live with knowing her challenging work schedule that (every now and then) keeps her away from home for 12 hours at a time would simply be too long to leave poor little Olivia alone. I know it was tough for her to leave Olivia’s big brown eyes behind. But that’s not where the story ends for her. She was indeed adopted today by a family who was waiting anxiously for Morgan to make a decision. And I bet she will be happy there.

Because rescue, from the ground up, is the real deal. I am a living breathing example of a rescue success story, and even mine wasn’t perfect. That’s the thing about situations like this. Life in itself is a big deal. It brings us twists and turns and ups and downs. It challenges us. It keeps us on our paws. And when it comes to making big decisions, it frankly sucks sometimes.

Her name was Olivia and she was a game changer. She didn’t join our forever family today but she taught us all a lesson in selflessness and patience. I’ll be the first to admit patience is not something I’m great at. That’s why I know Morgan will find her perfect match soon. Because today she made another tough decision. Today she confirmed she will not settle. And I’m proud of her.

 

Rescue Me November 17, 2013

I didn’t believe her at first. She was new and exciting and her past didn’t matter to me. What mattered was she was my new mom, my forever person, and I loved her from the start.

RescuedI loved her that first day she and dad came to visit me at the Oshkosh Humane Society. We shared a special moment when she knelt down to pet me and I did my best to grab on with my paw (as only us canines can do) to show her she was the one for me.  I was devastated when they left without me that day. The days that followed were some of my lowest of the low. A whole two weeks went by before I saw her again, and that’s when I knew it to be true. My forever person had found me. I was being rescued.

Recovery. Liberation. Deliverance. Rescue means different things to different people, all tied together by the common denominator of strong emotional responses. Joy. From the ground up, that’s what rescue means to me. So it never occurred to me that perhaps more than one heart was rescued that day. At least not until later, as I learned my adoption followed a string of unfortunate events in the lives of my forever people.

In May 2009, mom’s job at the local newspaper was eliminated along with the jobs of about half of the staff. Two weeks later, her dad died. It was sudden and terrible, and I won’t share all the details, other than that it came as a complete shock to her small immediate family. And alas, she had a new full-time job-helping her mom meet the attorneys, doing calculations with the CPA, and acting like the grown up who had it all together. In reality, she was the 24-year-old kid who found herself turning to the wrong ways of coping.

I’m no psychologist, but I would say she was still a little depressed when I met her a little more than a year later. And I immediately set about changing that in the only way I knew how. Loving. And, in doing so, I know I made her feel more alive. So ultimately I’m not sure who really rescued who. What I do know is I never would have thought more than one heart could be rescued in the same day. Yet I know it to be (at least partially) true. Mom didn’t just rescue me that day. I rescued her.

This post was inspired by Janine Allen’s “I Rescued a Human Today.”

Read it here: http://rescuemedog.org/dog-blog/i-rescued-a-human-today-by-janine-allen/