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.

 

Penny For Your Thoughts August 31, 2013

I did the unthinkable today. I made friends with a feline. And I’ve got to be honest. I don’t understand what all the fuss is about.

Her name is Penny and she frequents my front doorstep, so I assumed she was homeless. She doesn’t wear a collar, so I assumed she wasn’t loved by a person. She’s one of the skinnier felines I’ve come across, so I assumed she doesn’t eat very frequently.

On Friendship

I assumed wrong. I learned today she has a forever home down the street where she is very well-loved by an older lady named Rose. Much like us canines think of our people, Penny considers Rose her best friend. So it hasn’t been easy for Penny to see her person struggling with health issues more frequently lately. She apparently sleeps a lot during the day (which is saying something coming from a cat), so she encourages Penny to seek adventure outside the confines of the house. She trusts that Penny will come home for her specially prepared meals (Penny has digestion issues), and for the love they share.

Penny looked especially downtrodden on my doorstep today, so I successfully pestered mom enough to take me outside to talk to her. It was the first time we’d spoken and I can honestly say I hope it’s not the last. Everything about her surprised me, and she seemed surprised to feel the same way about me.

She said from her perspective I always looked aloof, guarded, and the slightest bit snooty from my perch in the window. Like you think your poop doesn’t stink, she said. We laughed together at that, since we both know poop does indeed stink.

Amidst our laughter, I realized how unfair we had been to each other all this time. We both had these inaccurate pictures of each other’s personality painted in our heads. She had bad experiences with dogs, and I had bad experiences with cats. But in this (albeit strange) situation, we were able to move past those preconceived notions and (gasp!) actually like each other. It didn’t take me long to come to the conclusion that stereotypes are definitely overrated. Other people should not be allowed to determine who you can and cannot befriend. Moreover, others should not determine what should and should not bring you joy.

“Allow yourself to trust joy and embrace it,” suggested my favorite transcendental thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson. “You will find you dance with everything.”

Today I found joy in the most unusual place. I found it in Penny. She makes it her purpose in life to bring joy (from the ground up) to her dearest person named Rose. So I don’t particularly care if she’s a cat and the world says we can’t be friends. Penny is rich with joy, which makes her pretty priceless in my book.