Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

A Dog’s Purpose September 26, 2013

It’s a big deal. I don’t know why anyone would say it isn’t. But a pressure exists in our society to figure it out sooner rather than later and I can’t say I agree with that. What are you going to be when you grow up? We ask it of our little people, who (more often than not) respond with some pretty big ideas. They want to be a lawyer. Or a writer. Or (better yet) a balloon maker (this was my mom’s dream job at the tender age of four).Fear to Purpose

Then they start school, and the ideas change. The dreams continue to evolve, but the question doesn’t go away. What do you want to be when you grow up? A lawyer? A writer? (At this point you have matured enough to rule out balloon maker as a profession).

Then comes college where the pressure sounds the worst. What are you going to be when you grow up? Law school sure is expensive. And there sure is a lot of competition to become a writer. How about psychology? Or communications? Or financial planning?

Obviously us canines don’t really go through this whole debacle as we rely on our people to struggle through it on our behalf. (All so they can go to that place called work instead of play with us all the time – a concept I’ll never fully understand). Perhaps because I don’t personally deal with the distraction of the daily grind, I’ve noticed that regardless of where along the line a person ultimately comes upon their answer to this very big question, it has something very significant in common.

None of this matters without purpose. Without passion. I may not have a career, but I’m no stranger to thoughts on what makes up a purpose-filled life. I remember the first time I questioned my purpose right after I was separated from my birth mom and brothers. I feared I would never feel what it’s like to be a family again. I thought I found my purpose in protecting Jo from the man with the leather belt, but he didn’t like that purpose very much and solved that problem by leaving me on the side of the road. I feared I would never know home again. So I spent the majority of my time at the Oshkosh Humane Society questioning my purpose in life. I feared I wouldn’t know love again.

But I have found that fear (especially in our darkest moments) ultimately brings purpose to those who let it. My fears led me to purpose in becoming a valued part of a family in my forever home. I know now with complete certainty that I am fulfilling my purpose in something as simple as that.

“As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being,” analytical psychologist Carl Jung suggested.

It is a big deal to find one’s purpose. To kindle the light. I don’t know why anyone would say it isn’t. What do I want to be when I grow up? Besides the fact I’ve committed to never actually growing up, I have found what matters. My purpose in life is to be a valued part of my family in my forever home. My purpose is to share joy from the ground up with whomever will take it. My purpose is to live, and bring fear to purpose for me and anyone who knows me. I know my purpose. What’s yours?


Faith In the Future July 14, 2013

“Make the most of your regrets,” Henry David Thoreau once said. “Never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh.”

Yesterday, I wrote about five things I would attempt to save if my house was burning down. Reflecting on the contradictory definitions a “spark,” I focused more on the fire than its aftermath. Its so easy to do in the heat of the moment. Why is it that in so many cases we don’t appreciate what we have until its gone?

Today, I realized all of the precious things I left behind. Practical things came to mind like my warm doggie bed and my Packer jersey. But I know those are replaceable. They’re just things.

Far more devastating are the memories lost in the ashes. I’ll never forget the first day my parents brought me home and let me explore my new house. All those hours spent playing fetch with Mrs. Prickles in the hallway. The first day mom let me come up on the bed. Money can’t buy back these memories.

I take a two-fold lesson from this experiment in thought. (See, there is always a silver lining).

1) Savor the small things. There are so many ways to lose sight of the importance of special moments in our lives. But there is a reason money can’t buy memories. Moments are priceless. There are groundbreaking days when major milestones make things easy to remember, but as Sarah Ban Breathnach points out in Simple Abundance “there is a lot of drudgery in most days.” These are the days we need to seek out joy in the small things.

2) Respect the past as preparation for the future. It’s all too easy to take things for granted. If we surrender to life’s simplicities and appreciate what we have on a daily basis, the future will be that much brighter. “I never regret anything,” says actress Drew Barrymore, “because every little detail of your life is what made you into who you are in the end.”

It is with my past in a special place in my heart that I find faith in the future. With faith as my fuel, I know my dreams will always be more exciting than my memories.

Today’s post is dedicated to Mandy Atkielski.

Eighteen-year-old Mandy entered doggie heaven yesterday. She will be missed.

My thoughts and prayers are with the family.


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Making Hearts Work Right June 5, 2013

I met an interesting two-legged character at the dog park today. His name was Charles and he talked a little slower than I’m used to people talking. Some of his words didn’t make the most sense, and he had an awkward social sense about him. (We canines can sense these things).

He and his wife were there with their two mutts (his words, not mine), who happened to be nine-year-old German Shepherd/Husky mix brothers. They were beautiful if you ask me, with flowing white coats and long happy tails. I played with them a bit before doing what I always do in going to check up on my mom. (I’m sure to check in with her ever so often while we’re at the park to make sure she’s okay).

When I arrived at her usual perch on a bench under her favorite tree, she was talking to Charles. Rather, he was talking to her. He was telling her all about himself, and his dogs, and asked her whether she thinks dog-walking harnesses are uncomfortable for us. (Which is another example of a moment I wish I could have spoken up and said yes, they are uncomfortable, but not all of the time). I hope the harnesses are comfortable, she said, because my little Wiley wears one. The context never matters – those few words all together make my heart smile. My ears perk up, my tail wags, and my heart bursts. Her little Wiley.

So I took a little break from romping around the park and popped a seat down next to her to see what else this Charles had to say. I was so glad I did because his response took me by surprise.

“Yes, dogs have a way of making our hearts work right, don’t they?” Charles said. I’m not sure how that directly related back to my mom’s comment about my walking harness but mom didn’t flinch at the random moment of reflection.

They sure do, she said.

Charles smiled and lovingly gazed over at his two “mutts” who were wrestling with each other, their tails wagging a mile a minute. In that moment I was overcome with pride that I’m a dog. I felt grateful to his dogs for having such a positive impact on this man’s life, and to all dogs who have that kind of impact on their humans. It was clear Charles’ life was not without struggle (he mentioned something about a war called Vietnam), but these dogs managed to bring joy and love into his life in the most profoundly special way.

I’m so glad I met Charles today. In his own unique way, he reminded me what my true purpose is in our little doggie lives: to share our joy from the ground up with whomever will take it.