Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Homeless and Hungry April 2, 2014

“Homeless and hungry.” That’s what I read on a cardboard sign being held by a person on the side of the road not far from my beloved dog park the other day. As we drove by, I was instantly overcome with empathy for the man.

He looked not that unlike myself when I was in his paws. He was scraggly. Dirty. Generally unkempt. And skinny. Goodness gracious, was he skinny. During my time on the streets, all of these things could have been said of me too. I’m not proud of it. It’s nothing I prefer to broadcast. But I was kind of a mess.

I’ve said before that home is where the heart is. Well, when you don’t have a home neither does your heart. It’s an awful place to be. I’m not going to lie – it was pretty easy to push it out of my mind as I explored my beloved park. It’s one of my happy places, after all.

But when I got home I was reminded. Not just because I was home and warm and enjoying a feast of delicious doggie kibble. It’s because of what happened next. I was enjoying some beautiful rays of sunshine and warmth in my backyard paradise on one of the first warmer days of the year when it happened.

My cat friend Penny came over. She had news. And it wasn’t good. Her person, the person that is home to her, is gone. Dear Rose took a turn for the worse that day and went to heaven, she told me. It’s not my first time hearing about this place called heaven that I frequently dream about. It’s my opinion (mostly because it’s mom’s opinion) that if it’s called heaven it is heaven to whoever goes there. Meaning there is most definitely a place for pets in this place, since I know I would be in mom’s version of heaven.

That’s when I realized dear Penny didn’t seem nearly as lost as I thought she would at the reality of her news. Because that’s when she said something truly profound.

Life is like an airport terminal on our way back home to heaven, she said. Now I’ve never been to an airport terminal, but it is certainly a concept I can wrap my little doggie mind (and heart) around. In that moment, I was overcome with empathy for Penny and her loss, but also for the homeless man.

It might be hard to remember sometimes. Especially when things get rough. But in those moments it is most important that we remember something I was reminded of by Penny today. We may go through bouts where we are hungry, but we are never truly homeless. We all do have a home to return to someday.

 

The Night Before January 15, 2014

It’s different for everyone. I’m sure white sandy beaches, picturesque mountaintops and bubbling waterfalls are among the most common though. The happy place. My understanding is its a place people go in their heads when the environment around them is…well…less than happy.

I don’t really have a need for such an imaginary place because I can’t say I ever really experience less than happiness in my forever home. Joy. From the ground up, that’s my way of life.

The same can’t always be said for my people, who I know experience a fair share of emotional ups and downs. I can’t figure out where dad’s happy place is, but I know mom’s is that spa place she goes every now and then. She loves it there. And I love when she’s happy and hate when she’s sad, so that means I love it there too. (Even though it’s a no-dogs-allowed kind of joint).Happy

All of this was turned on its axis a couple of weeks ago. It was the night before mom and dad went to that place called the hospital to get baby Carter. I sensed something was up. (Us canines have a sixth sense about these things.) But that didn’t distract me from the love fest mom and I had that night. That’s what I call it when a person spends an abnormal amount of time petting me and telling me how loved I am. It’s one of my favorite things.

Something happened during my love fest that night that never happened before. When I closed my eyes, I went to an unhappy place. I can’t explain it. There I was, with dad and baby Carter. But no mom. She didn’t come back from the place called the hospital. I waited and waited. But she never came back. It was terrible.

You can imagine my relief when I opened my eyes and there she was. Alive and well. But when she left for that place called the hospital I went back to that unhappy place in my head. I worried the entire time she was gone. What if she didn’t come back?

As is usually the case, all the worrying was for naught. She did come back and brought with her the best little present named Carter. And I realized something in those precious moments upon their arrival home that day. Not only did everything go just as I had hoped, but I know now why us canines don’t need a happy place. It’s different for everyone. For me, it’s not a white sandy beach or picturesque mountaintop. It’s a state of mind. It’s a way of life. Therein lies the answer. Life is my happy place.

 

A Playful Trip to Paradise February 3, 2013

Today I was listening to Chris Martin of Coldplay sing about a girl dreaming of paradise and it occurred to me I would have a tough time picking just one “happy place.” For some, it is sitting on a white, sandy beach blissfully staring into the blue abyss of the ocean. Others would prefer to rock climb up a nameless waterfall in the outback.

Playing catch in my backyard and or wrestling with my pals dog park pop into my mind as obvious choices, but that seems too easy. And (as it usually does) digging a little deeper led me down a surprising path of self discovery. As I thought more about it, I found myself in awe of the idea that we all have the power to construct our own version of paradise in our minds. Paradise looks different to everyone, which is what I would argue makes it so special. Happiness resides in this place, allowing its creator to be his or her true authentic self.

I know I have more than one of these places in my life. But if I had to pick just one, it would definitely be a combination of dreams and reality because (if you ask me) that is one of the many impressive things the mind can accomplish.

I do my best thinking on paper, so I dream myself a writing room.

It has no shortage of plush couches, fluffy pillows and blankets that smell deliciously like my forever home. My favorite music would be on a constant stream reverberating off the walls, which would be covered with pictures of my family and the written words of all those who inspire me. There would be a big bay window with another set of comfy pillows on the sill. At first, I pictured myself solo in this philosophically inspiring writing room. I saw myself alone with my thoughts.

Then today happened and reminded me of the role my reality plays in my dreams. Today was an action-packed day filled with treats, hugs and loved ones who never cease to inspire me. No, I would not chose to be alone with my thoughts in my writing room. I would choose to be surrounded with people and pets who love and support me and my writing.

I honestly can’t picture a paradise better than that.

 

Home is Where the Heart Is January 28, 2013

I’ve lived a lot of different places in my relatively short life.

When I was a little pup, my birth mom and my two brothers moved around a lot, finding shelter under garbage cans, in alley ways, and in cardboard boxes (if we were lucky). Times were pretty tough and food was scarce, but one thing brought me comfort like nothing else: cuddling with my mom. I would scrunch myself as small as I could, inhale her motherly smell, and listen for her heartbeat. It was warm, and with each beat of her heart, I could somehow feel her loving me just a little bit more. More than anything, I miss that about her. She was home to me.

Later when I was fending for myself, it brought me the most powerful sense of relief to picture myself back there snuggling myself into serenity. I could be shivering cold in the icy cold rain, and the memory of being in my mom’s arms brought me warmth.

As time went on, her smell became more a distant memory and her image became the slightest bit blurry, but her warmth somehow remained a source of solace in my heart.

People at the humane society (fondly?) referred to me as needy, and perhaps that’s what I am. I never passed up the opportunity to nudge myself into the hands or arms of the workers and especially of visitors who asked to see me outside of my room. I know that’s why I struggled in the first adoptive home with all of those other cats and dogs. There was simply not enough cuddle time to go around in that house.

That has never been a problem in my forever home. My mom and dad (and various people visitors) seem to enjoy my cuddly nature (for the most part).

The other day, it was bedtime in the Schmidt household and (as has become customary), I snuggled myself in between mom and dad on the bed. I closed my eyes, let out a deep grunting sigh and realized something. While my birth mother’s warmth is irreplaceable, I have found not just one but two new hearts to lull me to sleep with their love. And with that, I realized I am truly blessed.

If its true that home is where the heart is, my heart has found its forever home.

Smiles for Cuddles