Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

On Being Joy October 14, 2014

It was just like old times. And I honestly can say I can’t recall the last time it happened. Pickle in the middle. From the ground up, this familiar favorite activity of mine stirred up a whole new sense of glee tonight. It was one of those fractions of time that simultaneously lasts forever and not long enough.

Other than the time that has passed since it has last been played, nothing in particular was different about the game itself. It still involved my forever mom and dad throwing a toy of mine back and forth between them while I pretend not to know what’s going on. I chase after it, back and forth, until I run out of steam.

Tonight was no exception. I chased and jumped and heaved and jumped and chased some more. Except this time, we had an audience. Dear baby Carter sat by, occasionally attempting an interception. And laughing. I know this is a joyful game, but I had no idea how joyful it could be until the giggling started and did not stop. It should be noted that while Carter is a happy baby, giggling is not something he takes lightly. His curious mind is continuously calculating and seeking to understand his surroundings. So this giggling sound is something of an emotional golden gem around here. For mom and dad, and (to my surprise) for me.

That thing I said about running out of steam? It was like the giggles fueled me somehow, and I kept running and jumping and heaving and running and jumping some more as a result. Carter was the one giggling, but mom and dad were so happy in these moments. Joy. From the ground up, it literally fueled my spirit today.

“There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward,” suggested Lebanese poet and philosopher Khalil Gibran.

It was easy for me to identify the fusion of the gift and reward of joy today. Because it was just like old times. Except it might have been a tiny bit better. My beloved little person has found a way to do it again. He has found a way to be joy, from the ground up.

Wiley and Carter Costumes

 

The Diaper Change Fiasco January 16, 2014

I thought for a second I was in a dream. But I definitely was not. What was happening was real. And it kind of freaked me out. Last night somewhere in the wee hours, dad picked me up out of bed, held me like a baby, and attempted to put me in something I’ve heard called a changing table.

“Dang, you’re heavy,” he half-stammered in his sleepy state. That’s when I figured it out. He thought I was Carter. He had mistaken all 20 pounds of terrier that I am for his child and was about to change my nonexistent diaper. I couldn’t have that (any more than I could wear such a diaper contraption), so I wiggled my way out of that situation right quick.Peace.

It wasn’t until morning that it all paid off for me. It happened as dad retold the story to mom, who miraculously managed to sleep through the whole escapade. Laughter. From the ground up, it rejuvenated our weary hearts this morning.

Because let’s face it. It’s rough right now. My people are (clearly) overtired. They aren’t sleeping. Their clock revolves around Carter, and my clock revolves around them. And it’s quite honestly a little frustrating since there really isn’t too much I can do to help with anything. And I know in reality it really wasn’t anything I did that caused the laughter. My warm little body was just in the right place at the right moment. I even thought for a second I was in a dream. But I definitely was not.

“Back of every mistaken venture and defeat is the laughter of wisdom, if you listen,” American author Carl Sandburg suggested. What happened this morning was real, mistaken venture that it was. I’m so glad I listened for the aftermath. Because sometimes it just helps to laugh. Out loud. At yourself. It helps to stop and listen for the healing wisdom the laughter brings. Even if you are mistaken for a newborn baby in the process.

**No dogs or babies were harmed in the making of this completely true story**

 

Neighborhood Watch January 6, 2014

It’s been said more than once. Some have said it jokingly. Others have been more serious about it. Regardless of the reasons, the message is clear. I would make a terrible guard dog.

Watching the Angel SleepIn our neighborhood we are surrounded on either side by neighbor ladies who have been widowed, one of whom was especially enthusiastic about my impending ferocity when my people first brought me home from the humane society. It will be nice to have a dog guarding this neck of the neighborhood, she said.

Here I am, three and a half years later, and that could not be farther from the truth. My bark is rare, and every visitor to my forever home is greeted with fanfare and love. I do, after all, have a personal goal to share joy with whomever will take it, so why would I startle folks as they enter my home? It’s simply not in my bones.

Or so I thought. Then came baby Carter and suddenly everything has changed. Every little creak in the floor makes me jump, I find myself reacting to noises outside differently, and I have even uttered a protective bark or two at something other than the pig on the Geico commercials or the dogs with pretty teeth in the Pedigree commercials. I can’t describe the change other than that it feels instinctual, as natural as scratching an itch behind my ear.

“Follow your instincts,” American media mogul Oprah Winfrey suggested. “That’s where true wisdom manifests itself.” Sometimes I think its all too easy to start believing what people say about us. Especially when it’s not necessarily complimentary. I’m not really sure which side of the fence a guard dog falls on, since it usually isn’t a good thing to assume the bad in everyone instead of the good. But I have developed some pretty keen instincts in my time on four paws, and I think its time I start employing them. It’s been said more than once that I could never be a guard dog. I’ve got new reasons to believe that doesn’t make it true.

 

 

 

To Give Is To Receive December 10, 2013

I wasn’t trying to be funny. It was all just part of my standard outside routine. But tonight it may as well been part of a stand-up comedy act. I assumed play stance to the left. And again to the right. To the front. And to the back. And so on, for about 2 minutes.

Do I have something on my face?Meanwhile I heard it from the other side of the screen door. A sound that warms my heart. My people were laughing together (rather hysterically I might add) at my antics. There are few things in the world I love more than that sound. I knew at an early age people laughter would be a favorite sound of mine, in situations not that unlike what occurred tonight.

The first time was the night my birth mom and brothers spent in a homeless shelter. It was a frigid Wisconsin winter night (just like it is tonight) and at the mercy of a little girl who saw us shivering outside the window we spent the night in warmth. But that wasn’t the highlight of my night. That happened later when I heard it for the first time. A little person laugh. The little girl was laughing at a movie we watched together that night called “An American Tail.” I didn’t know it at the time, but I would come to view that beautiful sound as my Christmas gift that year.

The same sort of thing happened the following holiday season, which I spent with Jo and the man with the leather belt. All I wanted for Christmas was to see her happy. And she was. It didn’t last long, but it didn’t have to. It was Christmas and she was laughing and that was gift enough for me.

This will be my third Christmas in my forever home, and I know in my heart what I am most looking forward to about it. I can’t wait for Christmas morning when mom and dad traditionally open their presents from each other. (And it’s not because there is inevitably a toy or treat for me under the Christmas tree).

Even more surprising, it’s not because of the gifts they receive. It’s because of the gifts they give. I don’t witness the shopping, but I do witness every other part of preparation that goes into their gifts for each other. That’s why I know it doesn’t really matter what’s inside the boxes.

Because they ultimately give each other the best gift of all. Joy. From the ground up, it happens in ways most people wouldn’t even find entertaining. Like my antics in the snow today for example. I didn’t mean for anything to come of that. But as laughter is the embodiment of joy, so the real gifts in life are those we give. Not those we receive.

 

Food for Thought November 28, 2013

I think it’s a survival of the fittest thing. Except I’m not that fit. I think about food. A lot. I just like a good sampling of whatever scraps I can get my paws on. I would have to considering my prized nickname as the doggie vacuum cleaner. If it’s on the floor, it’s mine.Are you hungry? Always.

So it probably comes as no surprise that Thanksgiving is among my favorite holidays. It’s the one day a year (almost) entirely dedicated to food. Hours of preparation go into preparing turkeys and potatoes and stuffing and cranberry sauce and rolls and pumpkin pies. Don’t even get me started about the smells. And the tastes…well, that’s the tricky part for us canines on a day like today.

I don’t frequently get people food as a practice of my parents to keep me safe (or so they say). Not for doggies is a phrase I hear all too regularly. But let’s just say I know who to sit by (or under) on days like today. I have my people who sneak me little samples of turkey and mashed potatoes. And I love them.

I had at least one of these people at each of the stops on my Thanksgiving journey. Today I got to visit both grandma’s houses, which meant I got a lot of samples.

Today I was blessed to have these people at both stops on my Thanksgiving journey. I got to visit both grandma’s houses today. The table looked basically the same at each house, complete with a turkey and all of it’s trimmings. And I scored turkey and mashed potatoes from my accomplices (who shall remain unnamed).

Getting sleepy...But I noticed something other than the menu was the same at both the houses. It’s hard to believe, but it was something bigger than either of the turkeys. It was more prominent than the spicy pumpkin smell wafting through the air. After all of that preparation, the eating itself only lasted but a half hour or so. The leftovers were carefully divided up and stored away in the fridge. And that’s when real party started. Everyone was happy to be together. Thankful. Not necessarily for the food, but for the time together.

This occurred to me as I drifted off into my own sort of turkey coma. This day, Thanksgiving, is actually about so much more than food. (Which is a tough truth for someone as in love with food as myself to admit). Forget survival of the fittest. I could not survive if not for these people. I would much rather forgo my samples than be without them.

So (while I still appreciate the dedication to food that accompanies the day), I pause tonight to give thanks. To recognize the meaning behind the deliciousness. To embrace that today is actually about people coming together to celebrate each other. To tell stories (even if they’ve all been told before). To feed something other than our stomachs. For today we also feed our souls.

 

Big Bang Theory November 27, 2013

It starts with an idea. When it comes to ideas, mine was about as simple as it gets. It came to be almost a year ago in one of the smallest and most intricate packages you can imagine. A snowflake. I watched it fall from the sky and I knew. Joy. In a moment there it was. And I wanted to share it. With you.

From the ground up, I share my observations of the world around me. I try to see the good in all people, places and things; to not just find and identify the silver lining, but to embrace it. So when something happens like it did today, I can’t wait to share it.

I heard an angel laughing today. There I was, sitting there in my living room pretty much minding my own business, when it happened. Laughter. Lots and lots and lots of laughter. My forever mom and her friend Jessica were laughing too, but that’s no matter. All I heard was baby Alexis. And it was a beautiful sound.

I didn’t do anything particularly entertaining. I didn’t have to. She just kept laughing. And my heart kept smiling. If only it was this easy to share joy with the world, I thought. But that sounds awfully negative, and that’s not who I am. I believe in making dreams come true, and this is no exception. It can be that easy to share joy with the world. But I need your help.

I’m not a big believer in science. But there is one scientific theory I can stand behind – experiments. So today I ask for your help with an experiment I’ve been wanting to try since that first snowflake fell down from the sky all those months ago. How many people can I share joy with today? I, Wiley Schmidt, on the eve of the American holiday of Thanksgiving, I am thankful for joy. And from the ground up, I have ten seconds of it to share. Consider it yours.

It starts with an idea. And mine is about as simple as it gets – share my perspective on joy with the world. Please consider sharing this piece of joy from the ground up with someone and encourage them to do the same. Joy. In a moment here it is. Who will you share it with?