Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Just Get Along November 4, 2014

It all sounds a little cutthroat to me. Maybe it’s the canvassers. Or the attack ads on television. Or even some of the conversations I’ve overheard in recent weeks. I’m not sure what has brought me to this conclusion, but I know it’s true. Elections for public office are a cutthroat business.

It would be hard for it not to be, I suppose, given that one person’s success equates to another person’s failure. But alas, that is how the democracy of our country functions. It all makes me very happy I’m a dog, led (somewhat blindly) through life by the decisions of my forever family. They say love is blind, after all. Happy

Nonetheless, I do contemplate these things on what is election day in this country we live in, and it makes me wonder why we can’t all just get along. I’m sure I would be met with my own share of challenges should the roles be reversed and dogs have control over such things, this I will admit. However, I do feel the need to voice my opinion about the negativity that seems to follow this election business around like a storm cloud hovering and ready to strike at any moment. Can’t we all just get along?

Sometimes I wonder how my people would view such things from my perspective. I know nothing about any of the issues I’ve heard about. All I know is what I’m fed via sources like the ads and the media. And, to be completely honest, it’s enough to make me want to shut it all out and not even make an effort to evoke any kind of change. It seems as though it might be too far gone.

So you can imagine my surprise when my people packed up myself and dear baby Carter upon their arrival home from that place called work. Off we went to the nearby school to cast our votes. Well, Carter and I obviously stood by silently, but you know what I mean.

It was a good reminder for me. I need those sometimes, too. It was refreshing to see that the political garbage that has led us to today did not impact their decision to exercise their right to vote as I fear it may have done for me had I been in their shoes. It reminds me to take pride in the truth, even though it can be skewed one way or another sometimes. It reminds me to stand proudly amid the lies and smoke and mirrors and give them no power. Because I am free. And I am proud to be an American.

 

Acres of Diamonds April 28, 2014

I stand for a lot of things. The least of which is a dog’s right to the occasional piece of bacon. But I also make a point to stand for the big things too. Like freedom. Love. Life. The pursuit of happiness. I live these things in my daily life. They are part of who I am.

So you can imagine how it was today to see baby Carter stand for something. He stood for himself today. At the tender age of (almost) four months old, my dear little person actually resembled a little person today. He stood on his own two legs all by himself. Kind of. He had a little support from the ottoman behind him. But it was still such a remarkable developmental milestone to witness.This is what happiness looks like

It reminded me that he is going to stand a lot in his life. It’s easy to forget this since he still spends the majority of his time in someone’s loving arms. He’s not mobile (yet). He still sleeps more than he’s awake. (Not that I can talk in that regard). But soon enough my little person will indeed be standing on his own, both literally and figuratively speaking.

He’s going to have thoughts and opinions about things. He’s going to learn right from wrong. He’s going to learn about powerful emotions. He’s going to live. It’s all so surreal to think about right now, yet I found myself wondering today what he will stand for in his life.

I hope he takes a page from my book about the bacon. If he doesn’t (apparently it’s not the best thing for people’s health), that’s okay as long as he learns to stand for the big things instead. Like freedom. Love. Life. The pursuit of happiness. And Joy. From the ground up, this is my wish today. Because as I watched dear Carter stand up today, the words of American motivational speaker Earl Nightengale came to mind.

“You are, at this moment, standing right in the middle of your own acres of diamonds,” he said. That is all I can hope for today and always.

 

The Great Greek Yogurt Caper October 14, 2013

I’ve heard this song about how girls just want to have fun? Well let me tell you, I think this is true of dogs regardless of our sex. My tale of fun today began with mom’s container of Blueberry Acai Greek Yogurt.

I was really only after the yogurt. Needless to say, I got a lot more than I bargained for with that one. I did not get any yogurt (apparently it’s not for doggies); instead I got a bout of hysterical laughter right in my face. And I didn’t mind it one little bit.

You see, us canines have a way of getting what we want. I know I have mentioned it before. The look. And today my employment of the look involved the use of unexpected props. I put my adorably cute little face right in the crook of the book mom was reading while she snacked on her yogurt. The Happiness Project I think it’s called. Well I got right up in that happiness and donned my most sincerely loving face. It looked something like this:Please can I have some yogurt?

The laughter that followed (almost) made up for not getting any yogurt. And if that didn’t, what happened next most definitely did. “Do you want to go to the dog park Wiley?” she asked. Silly mom. Of course I do. The answer to that question is always yes.

A few minutes later we were in the car ride and I could barely contain my excitement. We haven’t been to the park in a while, ever since I overheard some of the people telling mom about a three-legged dog starting all kinds of fights there recently. I’d already had my run-in with death at that park (the time the scary dog swung me around by my neck atop a picnic table), and I’m not fixing for a rerun episode of that any time soon.

But after a quick survey of the people and dogs in attendance today, it was deemed safe to enter. In I went and instantly I came across a new friend named Belle. Also a rescue, she is about the same age as myself and we got along immediately. We wagged and wrestled and chased and wagged some more. Simply put, we had fun.

Girls just want to have fun? Certainly this was true of my new friend Belle. But it’s not just a girl thing. I may not have scored any yogurt today, but the look certainly got its money’s worth of fun. And perhaps more importantly, I got a reminder of how important it is to get silly and let loose from time to time.

“We are driven by five genetic needs,” suggested American psychiatrist William Glaser, “survival, love and belonging, power, freedom and fun.” Sometimes I think it’s too easy for us to get caught up in the more obvious of the needs (like survival) that we forget to have a little fun every now and then. That certainly was not the case today. Fun. From the ground up, it was had today.

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The Pursuit of Happiness July 4, 2013

Disappointment. In a word, that is apparently how thousands of people who attended the 3rd of July fireworks in my hometown felt in response to the highly anticipated event. It was gloomy, foggy and cooler than anticipated for the spectators, the majority of whom had been holding their spots for the fireworks show as long as a couple of days. And after all that time waiting, the show was much more a feast for the ears than the eyes.

Silly FaceTonight the noise carries on as people celebrate Independence Day all over America. It’s a day set aside to remember the sacrifices that have been made for our freedoms, and (in turn) pause to recognize the anniversary of the birth of our independence. The day is laden with traditions, most of which have always involved parades, picnics and fireworks. In a dog’s life, that means a day filled with treats, treats, and more treats. (Watermelon anyone?)

Though I have to admit I have never particularly cared for the loud bangs and booms that accompany fireworks, I do believe wholeheartedly in what they represent. They are bright, colorful and vibrant as they create a beautiful masterpiece in the sky. Aglow with radiating light, spectators smile and laugh and bond with family in these precious moments. Memories are created that last forever.

Unfortunately for the thousands of people who attended the fireworks in my hometown yesterday, the memories aren’t very positive. It was certainly a show they’ll never forget, but not in a good way. This got me thinking about what today is really about. Freedom. Liberty. Sacrifice. The pursuit of happiness.

None of these are found in fireworks. In fact, the fireworks gone awry remind me a bit of our best laid plans that tend to skid off track sometimes. It’s frustrating. No one likes or appreciates the detour (while it’s happening at least). And for good reason. Valuable time and effort goes into planning something so it is upsetting when things don’t turn out. And we do love and embrace our traditions. But things don’t always turn out.

Disappointment. Thousands of people felt it four about an hour straight yesterday. It is in these moments, when we’re about to let that demon of negativity into our hearts and minds, that it is most important for us to make our own fireworks. To be our own fireworks. To bring light and smiles to those around us and (in turn) to ourselves.  Let’s start ourselves a new tradition of sharing the fireworks of joy this year. That way no one will even notice if the actual fireworks are a gloomy haze of nothingness.

 

No Freedom Without Love May 19, 2013

Shelter dogs long for it. Teenagers drool over it. Adults occasionally miss it. The way I see it, there is this thing about independence I can’t quite put my right paw on. It’s almost like its one of those things in the world that isn’t all it’s written up to be. But what exactly is it written up to be?

Well, you’d better believe I thought I knew the answer to that question while I was fending for myself on the streets all that time ago. After the initial anxiety I had about being separated from my mom and brothers wore off, I had a newfound and overwhelming surge of pride in my independence. I could do whatever I wanted wherever I wanted with whom ever I wanted. I didn’t have to report to anyone, rely on anyone or support anyone but myself. It was fabulous!

Feeling the LoveOh dog, did I have some growing up to do. I realized it a few days after I became an adjunct member of Tiger’s family. The dog (for whom I was previously uncertain whether to fear or despise) was my single most embarrassing misjudgment of character. It turned out he had four pretty good reasons to be protective of his food and shelter. Their names were Sam, Spike, Lucy and Lana, and they were only about eight weeks old when I met them for the first time. I wasn’t that much older than them myself, but upon meeting them I instantly felt protective like I would have been of my own brothers.

My moment of self-discovery happened a few days later when I had a rough day finding anything to bring home to share with Tiger and his pups. I scrounged harder than when I was on my own because I felt responsible somehow. I was so embarrassed to come home with empty paws that day, but Tiger didn’t mind one bit. He had a hidden stash of food for days like this. I was stubborn at first when he offered me some crumbs of a loaf of bread and a couple of almost-rotten carrots. I didn’t need his help. I could fend for myself. I was better than this. Stronger than this.

In that moment as Tiger’s earnest eyes held out to me my portion of the scraps I realized sometimes knowing when to ask for or accept help is wisdom at its core. There is more strength in those who ask for help than those who refuse it. Indeed, I was no longer the only dog who cared if I lived or died. I was no longer completely independent. And it wasn’t so bad. A few seconds later, I was scarfing down those precious little scraps with more joy in my heart than if I had returned home that day with a feast.

“Independence? That’s middle class blasphemy. We are all dependent on one another, every soul of us on earth,” said Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw.

What a silly young dog I once was, thinking complete independence was the best thing since sliced bacon. Independence, at its skeletal core, is not all its written up to be. It’s not about being completely alone in all things, plotting through life to “figure things out.” It’s about understanding yourself well enough to know how you best relate to others. It’s about making the best of our moments of solitude and sharing the resulting joy with someone. It’s about asking for help when you think you need it least. There is no true independence, no freedom, without love.

Today’s post is lovingly dedicated to a four-legged blogosphere friend of mine named Claire.

She passed away a few days ago, and she will be sorely missed.

Claire and Frond