Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Getting Back Up March 3, 2015

I honestly couldn’t handle it. I saw it happen. I heard the sound when it happened. And I knew crying would come next. So I did the cowardly thing and ran away to hide in the bedroom, because I just couldn’t stand to even find out what the aftermath of all that action was.

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. My dear baby Carter was all over the place today, climbing things not meant to be climbed, ripping any form of paper he could get his hands on and running. So much running. Before

All of that came to a screeching halt when he was attempting to dismount one of his toys and take off in a full run in one fell swoop. He failed, whacking his head on the hardwood floor pretty good in the process. In the realm of his cries (I’ve come to know them all), it surprised me that this one seemed fairly well under control. And it honestly didn’t last nearly as long as I had thought it would.

I found out later he was also gushing blood from his mouth, where his fairly new set of teeth tore into his top and bottom lip. So you can imagine my surprise when the crying stopped a few minutes after it started. The terrible sound was replaced with the happy toddler babble that preceded the fall. That was a relief enough that I returned to the scene of the crime to check it out. All was well.

But in those moments after it happened, I ran. Mom couldn’t run. I know she was scared, and seeing the blood must have been terrible. I heard her and dad recapping what happened over dinner, and in that moment I felt a gush of pride over the parents they have become.

They both hated that it happened at all. And it was scary (especially for mom). Yet ultimately, they both realized it was probably way worse for them than it was for him. They don’t want anything bad to ever happen to their little boy. Obviously. In spite of all their best efforts, they were reminded today that it’s going to happen. He is going to fall down. And he’s going to get hurt. But it’s okay.

Because it’s getting back up that matters.

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This Favorite Phase of Mine February 4, 2015

I’m honestly trying not to get too excited about it. If there is something I have come to learn about little people I didn’t know before, it’s that everything seems to happen in phases.

For me, it started with the oblivious phase. I may as well not have existed at all in those first couple of months. Coincidentally, this was also the time I fell into somewhat of a sad place and found myself spending a little too much time under the bed in my forever parents’ bedroom.

Then came the smiling phase, where the simple sight of me entering the room (or his unsteady-headed line of sight for that matter) would cause the most sincere sense of what can only be described as pure glee all over his face. And so I started spending a little less time in hiding.

After that, it only has gotten more interesting. I wasn’t such a big fan of the fur pulling and tail yanking phase, which (thankfully) does seem to be behind us now.

Then there was the first time he started feeding me goodies from his high chair. This phase hasn’t ended yet, and I hope it never does.

But recently he’s taken to this new thing he only used to do with his stuffed animals. And it’s a far cry from the agony I experienced that one time he was poking around in my eye, let me tell you. This is nice, in a way that fills my heart with love for this continuously changing little person even if I can’t keep up with the changes.A Boy and His Dog

It’s called a hug. From the ground up, it’s one of the most real and honest things I’ve come to know about people behavior. And I love them. I get them from my forever parents all the time whether I need them or not, and now it’s started with Carter.

He’s no hug expert. Not yet anyway. He’s much better at it with people than with me, who he tends to clumsily smother with all his weight in his attempts. But I know enough about the emotion behind the behavior itself that I don’t ask questions. Like the food phase, I hope it never ends.

Because if there’s something I’ve come to understand about those little people, it’s that everything seems to happen in phases. And just when you figure it out, it seems to pass you right by. So I’ve decided to pretend I haven’t noticed it at all. Maybe that way this phase, this favorite phase of mine, will be here to stay.

 

True or False? March 16, 2014

It happens pretty frequently if you ask me. Not so much to me personally, for which I am thankful. But it seems to happen a lot to the people I love. You see, I am a big supporter of the meaning of the little things in life. The simple things. That is why I can with absolute certainty that the unknown confuses me on a pretty regular basis.

Again, this is not of my own doing. I have a pretty simple life devoid of stress over the big or little questions. Most of my big questions are answered by others. What will I have for dinner? Where will I spend my day today? What is my purpose in life? It’s a fairly sure thing that every day will bring the same answers to these questions.  My regular kibble will be in my bowl in the forever home in which I will spend my day doing what I do best – bringing joy to whoever will take it.

Be What You BelieveThe same cannot be said for people. I frequently observe lengthy conversations about things as simple as what to have for dinner and as complex as one’s true purpose. And I’m not going to lie – it confuses me. Oftentimes I wish there would be a way for me to provide an answer as easy as the question seems.

I thought of this today as I watched baby Carter sleeping. I thought of all the questions – big and small – he has to encounter throughout his life. And so I wished I could tell him some of what I’ve learned from my observations – the first being that things that are true are often also false. It depends on how you flip the coin or how you view the glass. Since my glass is half full, so are three of my most important life lessons.

Believe what you think. It might not always be good, but follow your heart and you will find peace with your choices.

Believe what you feel. Good or bad, another person’s opinion is only as real as you let it be.

Be what you believe. What you feel in your heart is powerful. Embrace it and let it guide you.

I have so much I hope to teach baby Carter in the time we have together, but these simple truths are among the most important. Especially since it seems to happen pretty frequently among the two-legged population – this game of questions and answers. Most times I am thankful for not having the same questions to answer every day. But today I realized that it wouldn’t matter even if I did. Because in spite of it all, I am what I believe.

 

Keepers of the Light January 27, 2014

Leadership. It’s a big word that means a lot of things to a lot of people. Ask 100 people to define a leader and you’ll get at least 60 different responses. Words like strength, courage, integrity, honesty, and loyalty all come to mind. Ask a dog, and the response is pretty simple. Leader of the Pack

For us, its almost instinctual. We have a pack mentality, therefore there will always be a pack leader. And there will always be a pack leader because of our pack mentality. It is that simple. We look to our leader for everything, and do not mind doing so because we prefer to know where we stand. And if no pack leader steps forward, we will assert ourselves as the leader. Whether or not that is the best option is left for interpretation.

I’m not saying one way of thinking is better than another, but I do think there is something to be learned from especially the similarities between the two. At least from what I can tell, there is something almost instinctual about a person’s definition of leadership as well. It is personal, usually aligned in some way with one’s subjective experiences. Good leaders have a way of asserting their leadership in a way that guides rather than forces followers. A way of making them feel at home with their place in life while at the same time in control of it.

Late great American basketball coach John Wooden had a few things to say about leadership, one of them being that leaders make decisions while followers make suggestions. Because let’s face it. It’s pretty easy to make a blanket statement about something bothersome. It’s something completely different to actually do something about it.

That’s the thing about leadership. It means different things to different people. But in a way that is also the glue that binds its meaning together. Whether you have two legs or four, one thing in particular seems to ring true. The best leaders are those whose followers become leaders themselves.

So I guess I fall somewhere in the middle of the canine and the people way of thought. The way I see it, leaders are keepers of the light. They shine brightly for those in the darkness. They guide gently with even the smallest flickering flame. They help people see the way. And (perhaps most importantly) they pass the torch along so there is never a moment of darkness.

 

A Dog’s Tail Never Lies December 19, 2013

I know they can’t always be avoided. But I sure wish there was a safe way around them. From freshly cleaned floors to ice patches on the road, I simply do not care for all things slippery.

This came to mind tonight as I found myself skating across the patio portion of my backyard paradise. I wanted to come inside quickly because I heard my treat jar open when bam! My paws slipped and slid underneath me. And, for that (albeit brief) moment, I was completely out of control. I lost my balance. That’s when I knew for sure this icy stuff is certainly not my friend. It’s slippery. I don’t care for slippery.

Don't Slip!The same can be said of people, I suppose. Us canines are known for our accurate judgment of the character of those around us. We are natural born observers, which I think aids us in our assessments over time. I’ve only made one grave mistake in not trusting my best doggie friend from the streets Tiger. I felt pretty silly about getting that first impression wrong when I learned the reason he was so protective of his food was because he was a single dad caring for his pups.

I learned my lesson and haven’t made the same mistake twice. I knew right away I could trust Jo, and that her caretaker (if you can call him that) otherwise known as the man with the leather belt was bad news. His face came to mind tonight as I was slipping all over the place. I don’t like slippery people any more than I like slippery surface. And he was such a bad person. He made me feel completely out of control. He took away my balance. But he could not take away who I am.

Because who I am is pretty great. I know that now. And you can believe me when I say so since a dog’s tail never lies. Above anything else we are honest. We are who we are. I know this with the same certainty I know there are unfortunately plenty of slippery people out there. And there isn’t always a way around them. But life has taught me sometimes the best defense against a slippery slope is a good offense. And when it comes to fighting evil, mine wins every time.

 

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.

 

As It Is August 29, 2013

Being RealI know when it’s real. I know when it’s fake. There is something in a person’s spirit that gives it away to a keen canine eye. The smile. Maybe it’s because we canines smile with our tails, but why anyone fakes it I will never understand.

But my lack of understanding of this basic human behavior does not (in itself) make it cease to exist. Quite the opposite in fact. As a regular observer of people, I know this fake smile happens all the time for any number of reasons. A need to impress. A need to console. A need to end a conversation so you can go to the bathroom.

Regardless of the why, I find it most unusual because most receivers of the fake smile know that’s what they’re getting. They’re not stupid. Life has taught me that most people are much less mysterious than they think they are. And the fake smile is no good for the giver or the receiver. It puts the person faking it in a position to act instead of live his or her true feelings. It puts the receiver in a position where they feel like they said the wrong thing, put the person out, or are wasting the person’s time.

I know I don’t speak for everyone when I say this, but that hasn’t held me back before and will not hold me back now. Just be real. I’d rather hear the truth than see a fake smile. Give it to me as it is, as Dido sings in “Let Us Move On,” even if it sucks. Life is messy sometimes. Live it. Chances are you will feel better for living it, and the person will feel better for his or her (albeit incredibly small) part they played in your overall well-being.

Because I’m not the only one who knows when its real or fake. A lot of people do too. The smile. I just don’t understand why anyone would fake it. In my little doggie eyes, it’s a sacred expression of joy that shouldn’t be wasted for reasons we can’t explain. “Honesty is the first chapter of the book of wisdom,” as American president Thomas Jefferson suggested. And an honest smile starts in the heart. Now if only I could get my paws on a copy of that book.