Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Remembering Wiley September 17, 2013

He kind of annoyed me at first. The people at the shelter called him Wiley and my first impression of him resonated perfectly with his name. He was small, but you wouldn’t have known it from all the noise he was making. Whining and pacing and scratching and whimpering. It was all too much. Worse than that, I’d seen it all before. These young pups come in here all anxious and adorable. I don’t understand what all the fussing is about. I don’t understand why they let themselves get so worked up.

Meanwhile I’ve come to the conclusion I will not be adopted. The Oshkosh Humane Society will be my final forever home. No one wants a 15-year-old golden retriever when they can have the puppies, or the anxiety attack two-year-old terrier mixes like my new neighbor. But I have made peace with that. I’ve lived a long and fulfilled life. I had a forever home with people who loved me. I had a family who loved me, played with me, and brought joy to my heart. I know what it means to be man’s best friend. I also know I’m not quite finished. I have something left to offer the world, and I am going to do it through this new neighbor of mine.Rusty

Because there is something different about this one. I can see it in his eyes. They are wide open to his soul, just like mine were at his age. And in that moment, his little soul was desperate for connection. For love. For hope. I could see it in his eyes. He was about to give up, and I was not about to let that happen.

So I told him my story. I couldn’t tell if he wanted to hear it but I didn’t care. My purpose in life was to share joy from the ground up with whoever would take it. To see the best in all people, places and things. To walk the walk. And, perhaps most importantly of all, to respect that sometime we get pushed on our backs to force us to look up and see some sunshine.Remembering Rusty

I’ll never know what he did with the wisdom I shared with him that fateful night. And it was incredibly hard for me to say goodbye to him before the people took me to that place in the shelter a few days later. (I’d come to recognize it as the “deliveries only” kind of room where the old, unwanted dogs go into never to return). But I know one thing for sure.

He kind of annoyed me at first. He had all that energy and he was wasting it all on pessimism. But I’d been through too much, seen to much, lived too much to let the opportunity slip through my paws. So I lived my purpose that night by sharing my wisdom with him. It was like the final chapter in a long life of joy from the ground up. And I wouldn’t have traded my time with him for all the Beggin’ Strips in the world. That annoying little Wiley will know better than to mourn my loss, I thought as I made my way to the Rainbow Bridge. No sir. He will paw it forward.

This post was written from the perspective of my dear friend and mentor Rusty from the Oshkosh Humane Society in response to today’s daily prompt: Write a story about yourself from the perspective of an object, thing, animal, or another person.

Rusty was right. His optimism lit a flame in my heart that night no one can ever blow out. I will never forget, dear Rusty. I will not forget.

Related Posts: Remembering Rusty, http://wileyschmidt.com/2013/02/17/remembering-rusty/

 

Does That Make Me Bad? June 6, 2013

Filed under: Man's Best Friend — Wiley Schmidt @ 9:28 pm
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I did something kind of crazy today. It was one of those moments when my nature completely took over my mind. And in the blink of an eye, it was too late. I peed on my mom at the dog park this afternoon. There, I said it. (Even worse, I did it).

Proud of SelfThis, from the dog who has never (seriously, never) tinkled or pooped in my forever home. I don’t even like when I can’t help it and throw up by the back door on occasion. I know the rules, and don’t make a habit of breaking them. But I did today.

I can’t explain it. One minute I was wrestling with my golden retriever pal Boone, and the next minute he was peeing on my mom’s leg. Like a fire hose. On her surgery leg. The leg that has been to hell and back in the last year and has the scars to prove it. My reaction was instinctual: back up off it, dude! That’s my mom you’re marking! My mom? My MOM!?

That’s when it happened. Up went my leg, and the rest is dog park history. I knew as I was doing it I was in the wrong. I shouldn’t have made matters worse, and yet I couldn’t help myself.

Then I remembered something. It was like a memory coming full circle. It was the day my parents brought me home from the humane society, and we made a stop at Petco (where the pets go) for a crate. Right there in the middle of the store, I lifted my leg and peed on my dad’s leg. I was so excited and overwhelmed and happy and (I didn’t know it yet) in love.

So I did something kind of crazy today. I peed on my mom’s leg. I never do stuff like that. But the more I thought about why I did it, the less guilty I felt about it. It’s the same reason I marked my dad in the Petco that day. They are my people, I love them, and I’ve peed on both of them. I’m over it. I don’t plan on doing it again (unless provoked), but I don’t regret it. Does that make me bad?

 

The Happiness Trinity May 30, 2013

Charlie. Milkbones. Home. A list of randomness to some, a daily happiness trinity to me.

It reminds me a bit of a bit I saw on “Sesame Street” many moons ago. I think I caught a couple episodes during my stint at my first adoptive home. The part I remember most is a song “one of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn’t belong.” I took the song at face value given my puppyhood at the time, but now I better understand the greater psychological implications of a the concept. One of these things doesn’t belong.Think Happy!

That was the story of me at the time. I know I didn’t belong on the streets. I didn’t belong at the humane society. I didn’t belong at my first adoptive home (with the people who adopted me and took me back to the humane society two weeks later). I’ve known it all along, but that didn’t necessarily make things easier. What did was changing my thought process to find a way to make myself belong, regardless of my surroundings. By using the tools I’d been blessed with at puppy birth, I was able to find my way to happiness even when the road was long and tough.

The secret equation that led me to where I am today? Finding three blessings to be thankful for on a daily basis, no matter how small. I find joy in all sorts of unusual places, and in doing so, I’m not like the others but at least I belong.

Today I met a dog named Charlie at the dog park. He is a five-month-old golden retriever, who reminded me a bit of my pals named Rusty. He was so full of life, and his playfulness was contagious. He had a personality that made you happy just because he was so happy. When I got home from the dog park, mom gave me two Milkbones (the joy involved is probably pretty self-explanatory on this one).

Then there’s that place called home. After all those places I didn’t belong, I now have a place called home. My happiness trinity is complete.

 

Pawprints in the Sand April 22, 2013

Remembering RustyI heard some pretty sad news today. A doggie friend of mine out in cyberspace went to doggie heaven on Saturday. I was never fortunate enough to meet Rusty in person, but my mom and the people in his life were pals back in a place in time called high school. She remembers her time spent with him fondly, as I understand he shared my belief in joy, from the ground up.

His people have been showered with love and prayers on all sorts of social media today, and I find myself reflective of not only the blessing of life, but the blessing of the people (and pets) in it. I do enjoy my routines, but I can’t help but notice that sometimes the familiar scenery starts to lose its color. The characters don’t change much from day to day. One day blurs into another and it becomes all-too-easy to forget to pause to appreciate the tulips sprouting from the grass or the person who takes the time to pet you at the dog park.

Just as people funerals are meant to be a celebration of life, I pause today to remember Rusty in the way I know he would want to be remembered. Reading all the comments from his loved ones on Facebook this afternoon, I realized people and dogs alike need at least one Rusty in their lives. Every now and then, we need someone to help us through those tough moments.

I met my Rusty my first night at the Oshkosh Humane Society, and his is a legacy I will never forget. I had one of my darkest hours that night, to the point that I resigned to thinking it might be my last. Then I met my 15-year-old golden retriever neighbor Rusty and I didn’t know it then, but he would change my life forever in a single night. On this awful night when I had given up, Rusty reminded me that sometimes we get pushed on our backs to force us to look up and see some sunshine.Rusty

Like my Rusty, I’m certain the other Rusty in my life wouldn’t have wanted us to mourn his loss, but rather to carry on, as in the words of a popular song I just can’t get out of my head recently.

“If you’re lost and alone, or you’re sinking like a stone, carry on,” sings Nate Ruess of Fun. “May your past be the sound of your feet upon the ground, carry on.” Best of all, the song reminds and encourages us all to be shining stars, or (as I see it through the lenses of my reflective day) to be a Rusty in someone’s life.

So today I pause in honor of the Rusty’s in my life to be conscious of my surroundings. I find myself thinking about my path in life, appreciating everyone who has carried me through my difficult times. I stop to find a way to carry on, to bring light to someone having a dark day, to be the Rusty someone needs to carry them through. Rest in peace, dear Rusty. You will not be forgotten.

 

Remembering Rusty February 17, 2013

I will never forget my first day at the Oshkosh Humane Society.

I remember being terrified at first when I was surrounded by people I didn’t know in this strange place. I watched in awe as a pool of dirty brown goo developed on the floor around me when they sprayed me down. And I couldn’t believe the size of the mangy matted pile of fur they trimmed off after I was cleaned. Then they fed me the most amazing kibble I’d ever tasted and shortly thereafter I emerged from the cleaning area a new (albeit horrified) dog. I could get used to all of this attention, I thought to myself.

Then it happened. They put me away in a cage where I remained for the rest of the day. A nice lady named Sarah came to feed me again and let me outside briefly, but that was it. Granted, the scenery indoors was a lot nicer than the garbage cans and cardboard boxes I was used to, but that first night was one of the most quiet, lonely and dark of my entire life.

This is it, I thought, this is where it’s all going to end. Little did I know that would also be the night that would change my life for the better in ways I could never have imagined.

That was the night I met Rusty. He was a 15-year-old golden retriever in the cage next to me. On this awful night when I had given up, Rusty reminded me that sometimes we get pushed on our backs to force us to look up and see some sunshine. That night, he shared with me stories of the family he had been brought into as a puppy. A family who loved him, played with him, and brought to life a joy in his heart that I could see in his eyes. He told me about how sad the family was to give him up to the shelter when both of his people parents lost their job and had to move into an apartment where they didn’t allow dogs. They used to come visit, he said, but then I think it got too sad. They visited less and less frequently as time went on. Days turned into months, then years.

I was deeply devastated for him, but his perspective on the matter resonated with me on a level I didn’t realize at the time. He was incredibly optimistic, grateful even, for everything he’d lived through. He wouldn’t trade his time with his forever family for all the Beggin’ Strips in the world. In his old age, he was wealthy with wisdom. He was joy: from the ground up.Remembering Rusty

I felt so blessed to find a comrade in this new place, but I had no idea how special Rusty really was until he was gone. It happened only a few days later, and I remember that day vividly too. I was kind of jealous of him, thinking he was going to the cleaning room where I got all the attention. Instead, he went down a different hallway, into a different room, from which he never emerged again.

But he wouldn’t have wanted me to mourn his loss. No sir. Remembering Rusty means living his legacy and pawing it forward. The day after I lost my mentor was the first day I awoke with my newfound commitment to seeing the good in all people and things.

“Our dead are never dead to us, until we have forgotten them,” English novelist George Eliot reasoned.

Rusty’s optimism lit a flame in my heart that no one can ever blow out. I will never forget, dear Rusty. I will not forget.