Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

The Headless Happy (Birthday) Chicken February 5, 2015

It’s a matter of respect for me. I won’t say how many years ago it happened, but that doesn’t change its level of importance in my life. Which is high.

Today is my forever dad’s birthday. Though that happened at least a year or two before I was around, it’s a day I pause to appreciate each year. It’s a day I couldn’t miss, too, since mom has this thing with birthdays. I’m not sure of the rationale or reasoning behind it, but its very important to her to go above and beyond to celebrate a life. A few years back...

Today was no exception. The stars aligned and (somehow) everything got done. I wouldn’t have guessed it this morning either. Between her work and all things birthday, she was running around like a headless chicken. There was cleaning and cooking and laundry and grocery shopping to be done. And there was a surprise visit with Carter to dad’s work, and later a surprise lunch date with Carter.

And everything fell into place. Work got finished. The cleaning and cooking and laundry and grocery shopping went smoothly. The surprise work visit and lunch date were a huge success. It was a good day.

I know because we’ve had some bad ones lately that days like today should be celebrated. Not just for the obvious reason that I’m elated that my dad was born all those years ago. But for the refreshing sanity I know my dear forever family feels when things go as well as they did today. It’s invigorating.

It’s also a novel idea that there can indeed be headless chicken running that doesn’t revolve around only unsatisfying chaos. Instead there was a sense of joy about it from beginning to end. Headless and happy can coexist after all.

For me, it’s a matter of respect. I won’t reveal the number behind my forever dad’s wisdom. But today I will live the words of American entrepreneur Oprah Winfrey who suggested “the more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.”

 

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.

 

A Love Uncommon April 23, 2013

It’s hard to explain. My heart rate picked up. I felt warm. I felt shaky in a way that made my paws feel like marshmallows beneath me. I didn’t understand it. I thought to myself, “self: could this be love?”

It was during my brief stint with the family in Port Washington, Wisconsin that adopted me for a few weeks. You know, the one with three cats and two other dogs? They deemed me to be too much a behavioral problem for them and returned me to the humane society, but not before I escaped on my own a few times. It began as what I would refer to as attention-seeking behavior, as I felt I didn’t receive as much emotional attention from the people trying to share it with so many other animals. But one warm summer day I found a new reason to make my way out the doggie door, jump the four-foot fence and explore the neighborhood.

Her name was Taffy, and she is the most beautiful Beagle I’ve ever seen. She lived a few blocks away with her forever dad Eric, who adopted her as a puppy. I’m not certain Eric ever knew what was happening between us since I only ever just saw her from a distance. But there was something in her eyes that made me wish we could run around her beautiful fenced in yard together for hours and hours.Love Makes Smiles

I know it might sound silly, since science tells very different stories about doggie love. Some scientists deny that dogs feel love for one another. Others believe the unconditional love we show our people is testimony to our passionate potential to love other dogs. It probably doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone that I am a believer in the latter theory that indeed dogs do love each other, perhaps not like humans but instead in ways that (at least the majority of) people wouldn’t understand.

Scientific theories aside, what I know for sure is I’d never felt like this before. I certainly loved my birth mom and brothers, Tiger and his puppies, and Rusty from the humane society. What I felt for Taffy was different in a way that stuck with me long after that family returned me to the humane society.

So you can imagine my surprise when one day, my parents brought me with them to that same northern suburb of Milwaukee. I’d come to recognize the scenery, as it is also where my dad grew up and where his parents still live. But this time we took a few different turns and ended up in my old neighborhood. In Taffy’s neighborhood. My dreams sometimes get the best of me, so I had to convince myself what was happening was real life rather than a dream. The memory I had of my dear Taffy was a love uncommon.

As were the moments that followed. I was reunited with Taffy that day. It turns out my forever dad and her forever dad go to that place called work together every day, and had become friends. I didn’t care. I was so happy to see her and finally have our time together running around like ninnies in her fenced-in backyard. It was a dream come true.

I’ve only seen her one more time after that, but I don’t have to spend more time with her to be sure. She is definitely one of the loves of my little doggie life. My mind still doesn’t believe it, but my heart knows it to be truth. I’m sure scientists wouldn’t be able to explain my rapid heart rate, above average body temperature and marshmallow paws either.

But time has offered me the chance to reflect on my feelings, which I now find brought to life through the words of ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, who said “being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone gives you courage.” I needed both strength and courage at that point in my journey, so I will be forever grateful to Taffy for helping me find what I needed to get through to the next chapter of my life.