Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Of Monsters and Dogs May 21, 2014

I’m not proud of it. But I succumbed to a human emotion I prefer to avoid today. And (even worse) it wasn’t the first time.

I was ecstatic that my (more than slightly ill) forever mom and dad decided to take baby Carter and I for a walk on this beautiful evening. It’s a far cry from those terrible frigid winter nights of the not-so-distant past. There we were, a happy family of four, journeying through my beloved neighborhood. It was grand.

Until it wasn’t. We were almost home when I saw him. Monster. I’m not joking or being coy. This dog’s name is actually legitimately Monster. I know it because I’ve heard him called that by his owners on several different occasions, including today.

Here’s the thing. Monster is scary looking. I’m not sure what breed he is, but he probably weighs about 120 pounds and is black and has red eyes. I’m not just saying so – his eyes are bloodshot red all the time. And it kind of freaks me out. It doesn’t help that he isn’t exactly friendly to other dogs in the neighborhood (namely me). Or that his forever people don’t ever have him leashed. But I digress.

There he was, unleashed, in all of his scary glory today and it was the first time he was exposed to my dear baby Carter. Well, I wasn’t having that. I could almost picture my all 15 pounds of my dear little person getting swallowed up by his big scary teeth. The thought was terrifying.

Then I noticed something. There were six or seven of them, all huddled around Monster, petting him and telling him to stay. Which he did. But more astonishing than that was that there they were. Six or seven little people, no older than 5 or 6 years old, in the company of this so-called monster.Forgive Me

I was overcome with guilt on the spot. All of this time I had assumed the worst about Monster. His name is Monster for crying out loud. But that’s the thing about first impressions.

“It’s pretty simple, pretty obvious: that people’s first impressions of people are really a big mistake,” suggested American actor Vincent D’Onofrio.

I’m not proud of it. But I succumbed to a human emotion I prefer to avoid today. First impressions. From the ground up, I was reminded today that there are a lot of impressions that come next. I’m a believer in second (third and fourth) chances, and this should be no different.

 

Prove Them Wrong April 13, 2014

There is this thing about first impressions. They are usually the same as the second, third, fourth and fifth impressions. And they aren’t always good. But I was fortunate enough to learn something at a fairly young age about the power of these impressions. It ultimately belongs to the receiver, not the giver.

Because it’s something someone is thinking in an isolated moment. It doesn’t define a person unless the person lets it define him or her. I would be a totally different dog if I let other people’s perspectives create who I am. With aliases like street rat and obedience school drop out it probably would have been pretty easy to give up. To throw up my paws and let these outside opinions influence my character.

Instead I stood by who I am. And I always will.

Today I was thinking about the first impression I made on the people who would become my forever mom and dad. There I was, minding my own business in the kitchen when bam! I took a big ole whack to the noggin from a baby-Carter-filled car seat. Dad was trying to calm Carter down by swinging the seat in the air, but I simply didn’t see it coming.Who I Am Makes a Difference

And in that instant my mind flashed back to the man with the leather belt. I shuddered at the memory. And at the pain rushing through my head from today’s impact. But my first impression of my dear forever dad still hasn’t changed. Because (just as I knew would happen) dad apologized even before I had the chance to seek an apology from him. My first impression of him was, and continues to be, right.

As I nursed my headache, I thought of the fuel it takes to move past these unwelcome outside opinions on unique and unprecedented personalities. The fuel is in proving them wrong. Oftentimes it’s not that tough to tell when that first impression didn’t go quite like you’d hoped. But in those instances you find that fuel in proving them wrong. In showing them there is more to you than some silly label or haircut.

That’s the thing about first impressions. They get a lot of emphasis for a reason. You can’t take it back. That isolated moment in which that perfect stranger decides they know you. They couldn’t be more wrong. And I can’t wait to show them who I really am.

 

Forget First Impressions March 14, 2013

WYou've Got a Friend in Mehen it comes to first impressions, I close my eyes and immediately see the same dog every time. His name was Tiger (which I never understood because he was a black lab) and he was always one step ahead of me. He always seemed to beat me to the best garbage cans in the neighborhood we lived in, and one day I watched in disgust as he violently fought another dog for a bone. He had these crazy black eyes that seemed filled with nothing good. He always kind of snarled when he saw me. And I hated him. That was one of my life’s biggest mistakes.

I got this idea to follow Tiger home one day. Something dark inside me wanted to see where this big, bad dog lived. I can’t explain what took me there, but I am so grateful it did. What I saw that day was both shocking and heartbreaking. It turned out Tiger was a single dad, providing for a litter of puppies who really just wanted their mom. I saw it in his changed and softened eyes that day: all he really cared about was making sure his pups were okay. That’s why he always seemed so brutal when he was fighting for food. It all made sense now.

And that’s when he caught me staring. He was not a happy camper. To this day, I know the only thing that kept him from attacking me was the beat up loaf of bread I had brought with me on my stalking journey that day. I immediately surrendered it to him to give to his pups and he and I were friends from that day forward. I became an adjunct member of the family, which I appreciated because it gave purpose to my days and Tiger appreciated because he didn’t have to work so hard.

I would venture to say something like this has happened to everyone. Usually, it happens with the quiet nerdy girl who works in the basement. Or the sarcastic man all the women try to avoid in the office. Or maybe even the social butterfly who stings like a bee. But if you ask me, the world in general puts too much pressure on first impressions. While I understand in a literal sense that a first impression can’t be redone, I would argue that its more important to remember the analogy about the cover of a book when meeting someone new.

Let’s face it. Not all books are as good as their covers. The art and font and color choices lured you in, but the content didn’t deliver. Or perhaps the cover was too simple to capture the brilliance the pages contained. It makes me wonder a bit why people put so much credence into first impressions. A person is only as good as his or her heart. So why on Earth do people judge each other at first sight?