Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

A Writer’s Best Friend May 13, 2013

John Steinbeck had Charley. Stephen King has Marlowe. Dean Koontz has Trixie. There is something a lot of writers seem to have in common: they have human whisperers. Their canine companions lend a fresh sense of imagination and unconditional love that inspire.

Writer's Block?“A boy can learn a lot from a dog: obedience, loyalty, and the importance of turning around three times before lying down,” American humorist Robert Benchley joked. All kidding aside, I think there is truth in the perspective man’s best friends offer to writing. Ironically, the silent understanding between owner and dog is some of the most powerful communication methods.

I would argue that is one of the reasons why science is supporting that having a pet can increase longevity in a human’s life, according to Forbes and NBC News.

“I have sometimes thought of the final cause of dogs having such short lives, and I am quite satisfied it is in compassion to the human race,” prolific Scottish writer Sir William Scott said. “For if we suffer so much in losing a dog after an acquaintance of ten or twelve years, what would it be if they were to live double that time?”

Indeed, I have lost enough doggie pals to heaven in my life to know the aftermath they leave behind. People have funerals to celebrate life of lost loved ones, and many people families do the same for their canines who leave us to go to doggie heaven. But while the tears and emotions of a people funeral are normally present, words are generally kept to a minimum. As it was the same in life, it seems only fitting it is that way in death.

I can’t explain the connection I feel with my forever people, or with my extended forever family. I think that’s one of the things that makes it so special. Isn’t it ironic then, that this unspoken connection makes its way into words in books and blog and even social media platforms? It’s one of the most striking examples of give and take I can think of. Even though I struggle to explain the connection, it is what inspires every blog post. It among the emotional fodder for greats like Steinbeck, King, and Koontz.

It’s funny how us human whisperers speak so loudly without ever muttering a word.


Learning to Live February 10, 2013

Influential psychotherapist Carl Jung would have classified me as an extrovert for sure. Known best for his personality theories, Jung’s works dug to the core of the human psyche to piece together its innermost workings.

“One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings,” Jung wrote. “The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.”Learning to Live

I was thinking today about how far I’ve come since my adoptive parents rescued me from the humane society two and a half years ago. The clearance dog that I was, I know my doggie adoption profile featured me as one of those difficult fixer-upper kind of dogs. There were a lot of references to me being a “really loving boy who really just needs some tender loving care” or something like that. Which (let’s face it) basically meant my new owners would have their hands full.

I was sent home from the shelter with what they called a “care package” that primarily included little doggie diapers because apparently I had such a potty problem in my previous adoptive home. My new adoptive parents were required to take me to see an animal behaviorist prior to adopting me because I was such a “problem” dog. The only trick I knew then was sit. So you can imagine my internal victory when the behaviorist told them some magical news that day. “He’s really smart,” she said. “I don’t know why the folks at the shelter would think he needs to see a behaviorist.” Halleluiah! A human who saw something in me, believed in me.

It’s amazing what a little faith in character can do for a relationship. I knew at first sight I could trust my forever mom and dad, for example. And as much as I hopelessly long to speak people, my adoptive mom and I communicate pretty well with each other. I would argue this is because the Jungian warmth we gain from our mutual affection.

“I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists,” said great American author John Steinbeck. “Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.”

I know I’m incredibly biased, but I see my mom as one heck of an artist in the tapestry of my life. She has patiently (and tirelessly) taught me numerous tricks (with a little help from treats), like lay down, rollover, play dead, and (my own personal favorite) high five. I’ve never once needed my doggie diapers since I’ve been living in my forever home. And first visit to the behaviorist was also my last.

But by no means does that mean I’ve stopped learning. It is a rare occasion, but today I shall disagree with fellow transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau in his thought that “it is only when we forget all our learning that we begin to know.”

Rather, living is learning. I rarely go a day without experiencing something new, which I welcome into my life as part of my personality. Perhaps it’s the extrovert in me, but (on this one at least) I side with stoic Roman philosopher Lucius Anneaus Seneca, who said “as long as you live, keep learning how to live.”