Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Second Nature April 8, 2014

Filed under: Man's Best Friend — Wiley Schmidt @ 9:46 pm
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That place called work. I’ve often wondered if the shoe were on the other paw, what my place called work would be like. Where would I go away to for all those hours at a time? What would I do? Today I think I (quite literally) stumbled upon the answer.Looking Happy

Maybe it’s because it happened with four different people in what felt like a very short period of time. I used my keen observational skills to deduce they were down about one thing or another in life, and (without thinking) I did something about it.

With my grandma, I greeted her with a love fest upon entering the threshold. With my aunt Morgan, I licked up her tears as she cried about changes in life. With my mom, I simply rolled on my side funny while she took a few minutes to pet me. And with Carter, when he smiled at me as I performed one of my many attention-seeking behaviors. Well, that was pretty magical even though he may not know it.

That’s when it occurred to me. I didn’t even know I was doing it. I didn’t even know I was brining joy until it happened. I saw it on their faces, heard it in their voices, and felt it in their embrace. Joy. From the ground up, it is a favorite habit of mine. It’s one with no deadline, no pressure, and no wasted days or nights.

So I think I know what I would do for “work” if the shoe were on the other paw. (That is, assuming my first attempt at a dog blogger turned book writer never comes to be). I would stay home. I would do exactly what I do naturally every single day. I would find ways to bring joy to the lives of my people. Now, I can admit the job is not a traditional one. But I don’t think it matters, and would argue that perhaps it should be. Because I read once if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. And that is certainly true for me.

 

If At First You Don’t Succeed February 1, 2014

The way I see it, they don’t exist. And yet, every now and then, mom says something that seems so strange. It’s such a foreign idea to me, and yet it must be true. Not everyone is a dog person Wiley, she says, usually in response to me doing something she deems intrusive to one of our visitors. (Jumping into their arms the second they sit on the couch, for example).

How can that be? We are so great. We protect. We love unconditionally with all of our being. We never judge. We listen better than most people I know. There is a reason we are called man’s best friend. And yet, if mom says it, I suppose there might be some truth to this idea that perhaps not everyone who comes to my forever home is a dog person.

Most recently, it happened when mom’s friend was over for dinner. I have this habit of scavenging for any bits of crumbs that may have made their way onto the clothes of people when they are done eating. This, of course, follows another habit I’ve been trying to kick (and failing miserably) known as begging throughout the people eating process. I blame my starved puppyhood for my instinct to sniff out any lost bits of delicious smelling food I can. But I digress as apparently these are not behaviors of a “well-mannered” canine.Selfie with the non-dog lover

Regardless of my reasons, I’m definitely a cuddle bug. (At least that is what mom calls me). I snuggle and burrow into places I barely fit all the time just to be close to people. To show them my love. So when mom says this about not everyone being a dog person (therein apologizing for my bad manners) I can’t help but take offense. I do not apologize for the way I chose to share joy with people.

This may sound forward, but I would much rather be the dog who tries to convert even the non-dog-lovers than one who doesn’t bother trying. And it would seem I have my first convert. Her name is Dorian and she was pretty tense around me when I first met her. She and mom have been friends for 14 years so this was something mom knew about her friend – she was not a dog person. She would pet me hello but that’s about it. Well I have managed to change that. Now the two of us snuggle like the best of them. And I know it to be true because the last time she was here, she told me so.

She was in the process of cooing over Carter (something I’ve come quite accustomed to) when she said it. I love you too Wiles, she said, and I think you’ve changed my mind about four-legged friends. Well that was just about one of the best compliments I’ve ever gotten. It just goes to show you, you will never know if you don’t try.

“Try and fail, but don’t fail to try,” American author Stephen King suggested. I guess it’s possible that there are non-dog lovers out there. And they are definitely missing out. But if all of this has taught me something its that you can’t take these things at face value. Because it’s always worth it to try.

 

Keepers of the Light January 27, 2014

Leadership. It’s a big word that means a lot of things to a lot of people. Ask 100 people to define a leader and you’ll get at least 60 different responses. Words like strength, courage, integrity, honesty, and loyalty all come to mind. Ask a dog, and the response is pretty simple. Leader of the Pack

For us, its almost instinctual. We have a pack mentality, therefore there will always be a pack leader. And there will always be a pack leader because of our pack mentality. It is that simple. We look to our leader for everything, and do not mind doing so because we prefer to know where we stand. And if no pack leader steps forward, we will assert ourselves as the leader. Whether or not that is the best option is left for interpretation.

I’m not saying one way of thinking is better than another, but I do think there is something to be learned from especially the similarities between the two. At least from what I can tell, there is something almost instinctual about a person’s definition of leadership as well. It is personal, usually aligned in some way with one’s subjective experiences. Good leaders have a way of asserting their leadership in a way that guides rather than forces followers. A way of making them feel at home with their place in life while at the same time in control of it.

Late great American basketball coach John Wooden had a few things to say about leadership, one of them being that leaders make decisions while followers make suggestions. Because let’s face it. It’s pretty easy to make a blanket statement about something bothersome. It’s something completely different to actually do something about it.

That’s the thing about leadership. It means different things to different people. But in a way that is also the glue that binds its meaning together. Whether you have two legs or four, one thing in particular seems to ring true. The best leaders are those whose followers become leaders themselves.

So I guess I fall somewhere in the middle of the canine and the people way of thought. The way I see it, leaders are keepers of the light. They shine brightly for those in the darkness. They guide gently with even the smallest flickering flame. They help people see the way. And (perhaps most importantly) they pass the torch along so there is never a moment of darkness.

 

On Kindness and Diaper Wipes November 18, 2013

It’s not rocket science. I know it might be a mystery to the two-legged observer, but our canine bathroom routine is far from complicated. It’s all part of my process. I go outside, do my business, enjoy extra-curricular activities (like staring at the birds, attempting to chase off squirrels and occasionally conversing with Demon Dog), and come back inside.

I don’t use a toilet, let alone flush it. I don’t wash my paws when I’m done. And I certainly don’t use toilet paper. My Bathroom

So you can imagine how out of place I felt this weekend as I listened to a long and serious conversation my forever parents had about something called a wipes warmer. This contraption, which apparently warms diaper wipes to what is supposed to be a more comfortable temperature, has joined the ever-growing pile of baby things accumulating in the nursery. And my people are torn about its necessity amongst things like the diapers and wipes themselves.

While I consider it to be completely unnecessary (given my previously aforementioned bathroom behaviors), their conversation got me to thinking about what people refer to as the Golden Rule. Do unto others as you would have done to you. I highly doubt either of my people would like it if they were being woken up to go to the bathroom several times a night. Add to that some freezing cold toilet paper and you’ve got two very upset people. So why would you do essentially the same thing to a little person?

I’ll be honest. I think the wipes warmer is hogwash. But the argument for having one is incredibly solid. “Carry out a random act of kindness,” Princess Diana suggested, “with no expectation of reward, safe in  the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.” While the sincerest acts of kindness and compassion require nothing in return, these things have a way of coming back to us in one way or another.

It doesn’t take much. It’s not nearly as complicated as our canine bathroom routine may seem to the two-legged observer. And it certainly doesn’t require anything to warm it to a conceivably agreed upon temperature. Something as seemingly insignificant as a smile (or in my case an enthusiastic tail wag) can contain within it more power than a thousand words. Forget the artificial warmer. Kindness. Compassion. The Golden Rule. These are the words of true warmth.