Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Eyes on the Prize October 28, 2014

I know it’s totally my fault. I know it’s because I am not one of those four-leggers who finds pleasure in ripping my stuffed toys to shreds. I’ve done so by mistake a couple of times because I was overcome with excitement for some unknown reason, but the only feeling I had afterward was disappointment. Loss. It was too soon to lose that furry little squirrel.

I’ve spoken before about my beloved comfort circle of my favorite characters, like Mrs. Prickles and my Angry Bird. Both are cherished in my heart, and are therefore still around to tell the tale. They are not abused, but rather cared for and appreciated as best I know how.

Young at HeartSo it should be no surprise to me that my toy collection doesn’t grow too frequently. There is no need to replace anyone because they remain intact. Though this is for good reason (I’ve been known to cling to things I love), I do occasionally miss the early days in my forever home when I was showered with all kinds of new toys all the time. Just because I chose to keep my toys in good condition shouldn’t penalize me in the new toy department, should it?

I didn’t even realize I felt this way until this weekend when (alas!) my forever people returned home with a bag with something for me inside. This used to happen a lot more frequently before my little person came home, but I don’t mind. The point is that in this moment, I had a new toy. I could smell it before they even came into the house. And when they got inside, I could tell dad was probably almost as excited as I was to see it as he was to give it.

The contents of the bag were somewhat surprising, containing a plastic ball with holes everywhere, and a couple of large dental treats. Before I could snap the treat out of dad’s hands, he shoved it inside the ball and I’ll be darned if I haven’t spent the better part of the last three days trying to get it out. It smells so delicious, and a little shard I was able to chew off confirmed it is as tasty as it smells.

It didn’t take me long to realize this toy is masked. It may appear to offer instant gratification, but instead it is in it for the long haul. Just like the rest of my toy collection. I know it’s totally my fault that I don’t get new toys that frequently anymore. But today I realized that’s not such a bad thing. I do love my existing collection to pieces, partially due to the lessons they’ve taught me. I already know the lesson I am to learn from the new toy, in spite of my inherent desire to dislike it. Sometimes you have to work for the prize. It’s not always handed to you. And oftentimes these are the prizes most worth fighting for.

 

Sky Full of Stars July 23, 2014

When we’re little, we can’t wait for it. It’s like something we have our own internal countdown for, just waiting until that special day arrives. Then it does and we wish it hadn’t. Birthdays. From the ground up, I’ve come to wonder about them, mostly because I’ve always thought I would know when that day came. That day, when I knew beyond a doubt that I was completely and utterly grown up. That day, when I felt on my game. That day, when I felt wise.

Well I don’t know about you, but I haven’t yet recognized such a day. At the tender age of six people years old (which is equivalent to about 42 doggie years old), I say with complete honesty that I can’t say I’ve ever actually felt like a grown up. Not in the traditional sense of the term anyway. But today, as I paused to watch my forever family for a bit, I realized maybe it isn’t about that.Think with the Heart

I sat by, as I always do, while mom and dad had dinner together. More recently, dear baby Carter has joined them for dinner as he eats various concoctions of what my people call “solids,” which (at least in my opinion) greatly resemble soups of various homemade flavors. His options thus far include mango, sweet potato, broccoli, avocado and (as of tonight) banana. And it’s all very exciting both for him, as well as my beloved forever mom and dad.

Today as I watched what is my reality unfold I realized I am, in fact, living my dream. I can’t say I knew what it would look like when I was a puppy. I know I was like anyone else, looking forward to being a grown up more than anything else. I couldn’t wait for the outside world to see me differently. To see me as a grown up.

Today I realized none of that really matters as much as remembering your inner child. Sure, it’s fun to think about what it might be like one day when you’re all grown up. That one day when you have everything figured out. That one day when you feel wise. But I realized today being grown up has absolutely nothing to do with that one day. It has everything to do with the days that follow. It has everything to do with how you move forward, how you make a difference. How you live.

So today I recommit my life to one of wisdom. I recommit myself to seeing a sky full of stars whenever it’s in front of me. I recommit myself to live. From the ground up, that’s about as simple as it gets.

 

 

A Bird’s Eye View June 10, 2014

I find it’s more likely to happen when the skies are grey like a rain storm is coming. Then when it doesn’t I breathe a sigh of relief since I (like most dogs) don’t particularly care for the thunderstorms that occasionally accompany our summer days in my neck of the woods. They are loud and obnoxious and sometimes the thunder hurts my ears.

Dreaming a little dreamDays like today are interesting in their own kind of way because they remind me the slightest bit of the freezing cold doldrums of winter in the Midwest United States. Except in addition to the warmer temperatures, there is something present now that is not around in those times.

Birds. The more I observe them, the more I know it to be true. There is not much I envy about their lives other than this one thing. They can fly. I know that unless I ever travel a far enough distance with my forever people on an airplane, I will mostly likely never know what it’s like to fly. Sure, I hold my head out the window of a driving car with the best of them. And I’ve been known to clear three or four feet in a horizontal jump. But this is not the same as flying.

I thought of this today as my dear Aunt Morgan is on her way home from a far away place. As I type, she is waiting on a delayed flight out of Denver, Colorado, with no cell phone and no charger. At first I wondered what she would do with herself since she (like my dear forever mom) is terribly attached to that so-called Smartphone of hers. But that’s okay. I don’t need to talk to her to know what’s happening.

It’s a favorite past time of mine in fact. People watching. From the ground up, a lot can be learned from this tradition I’ve perfected over the years. I think I’ve learned more from observing people than people would even like to know.

One such lesson I’ve learned to take note of when the skies are grey and a rain storm is coming. Sure, when it comes to flight, it’s all relative. I say this both figuratively and literally, as I believe English humorist Douglas Adams may have said it himself.

“Flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss,” he said. My perspective doesn’t need to be a bird’s eye view for me to know this as truth.

 

I’m Sorry Now April 22, 2014

I don’t really know what happened. One minute I was in my happy place otherwise known as dreamland (chasing rabbits and other small vermin, of course). The next thing I know, there was crying. Well, it was more like screaming actually. Very loud and incredibly frantic screaming. Wiley! Wiley! WILEY!

I’m not sure how long it was going on before it finally woke me from my apparently deep slumber, but out I crawled from one of my favorite spots under my peoples’ bed and there I was. And there she was.

My dear aunt Morgan was in shambles. Absolute shambles. Her hair was strewn every which way. She was crying. And she was upset. She was incredibly upset. I did my best to cheer her up with all of my tricks. I snuggled and wagged and licked and none of it seemed to work. It was apparent. I was in the dog house. The worst part was, I wasn’t really sure why.

That is until mom returned home shortly thereafter. That is when I listened to the other side of the story. I thought he ran away, Morgan said, I thought he was gone. It seems to have startled her that I didn’t respond right away, I realized. This brought to light something I’ve always known but spend very little time contemplating. Baby Love

We often don’t know the consequences of our actions until it’s too late. A lot of things are said that we can’t take back. Yet we say them, they do their damage, and life goes on. A lot of things are done that have negative repercussions. A lot of decisions are made with little to no thought of their impact. All the while I know in my heart the power of the ripple effect. Everything we do, intentional or otherwise, has an effect on the world around us.

“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life doing nothing,” as Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw suggested.

It doesn’t matter that I didn’t know what was happening. It doesn’t matter that in my dreams I was about to slay a whole coven of squirrels. What matters is the tears that resulted from my ignorance. The stress I caused with all kinds of unnecessary worrying about my whereabouts.

Because while it was certainly not intentional I learned a very important lesson today. I learned what it means to cause such confusion. Because I learned what is like to be loved. It’s not the first time, and I (while I don’t intend a repeat episode anytime soon) I am so very blessed in knowing it won’t be the last.

 

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.

 

My Newborn Baby Survival Kit March 1, 2014

I told you so. I don’t often say such things, but in this case I need to take credit where credit is due. I said it six months ago and I will say it again. Too much is too much when it comes to the ridiculously copious amounts of baby things people can buy these days.

In my opinion it’s an awful tirade on the hormonal instability of first-time expectant mothers who are by nature on a quest to nest. Sure, the purchase of baby things had a direct inverse relationship to the amount of doggie things coming through the door of my forever home. But that didn’t bother me like this does.The "stuff" and me Bumbo chair

Ultimately, it’s just stuff. That’s what dad said tonight as we got Carter ready for bedtime. If we’d only known what we really needed, he said. That is exactly true. But as life would have it, you often don’t know these things until you’re living through them. And while experience has demonstrated the importance of baby accoutrement like the Boppy pillow, sleep sacks, and sleepers that zip (rather than snap), I have developed my own list of necessities for surviving those crucial first weeks as a new parent.

1. Sleep. Get it when you can. It doesn’t matter if its five minutes or five hours. Every little bit counts. (Almost) everything else stems from this.

2. Patience. It’s happened to mom. It’s happened to dad. Sometimes there just isn’t enough patience to go around. But any time you can catch yourself and remember to be patient is better than a time you didn’t.

3. Love. I’m not talking puppy love. I’m talking the unconditional love us canines have so graciously mastered. It’s not always easy to speak and act in love when you’re overtired and hungry and can’t remember the last time you showered, but it is a worthwhile investment that pays priceless dividends.

4. Family. Whether they are blood relatives or family friends, it really does take a village. Also, it helps if this village brings food whenever possible. That’s the last thing on the mind of an overtired set of parents even though it’s entirely vital.

5. Joy. It’s the only defense against the stress.

Things you won’t find on this list? An extra dozen pacifiers. Or three different kinds of receiving blankets. Or even that silly Bumbo chair. And that’s just during pregnancy. Needs can blur with wants in any scenario life hands us. But regardless of where you are in your walk of life, the lesson remains the same. Needs and wants can get a little fuzzy sometimes, but the best things are those money can’t buy.

 

Going For Gold February 12, 2014

I wonder what I would look like in ice skates. Or skis. Or those goofy looking goggles so many athletes are wearing these days. It’s hard not to at least put some thought into these things as my people have been watching something called the Olympics so much lately.Snowy Dreaming

Whatever they’re doing at these Olympic games sure looks tough to me. Much of it involves snow and ice. And winning medals. But I definitely don’t need a set of those goggles to see its so much more than that. These athletes are living their dreams.

For many of them, this is something they’ve dreamed of doing since before they even knew they were dreaming. Since then they’ve practiced and trained. They’ve won and lost. And they’ve fallen. Hard. I was reminded of this tonight as I watched in horror as a women’s downhill skier took a painful fall in the finals. All of that hard work and determination is worth nothing without one fundamental truth. The most important decision you can make in your quest for the gold is to get back up.

“All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them,” suggested American filmmaker Walt Disney.

I’m pretty sure I would tumble right off those skates, right into a tree on those skis and let’s face it – I would look pretty ridiculous is one of those figure skating getups. But that’s the thing about going for gold. The gold itself looks different to everyone. Good health and happiness. Landing that dream job. Or, in the case of the Olympians at Sochi, a gold medal.

Yet all dreamers share something deep within that keeps them going. Courage. From the ground up, they share the courage to accept failure with grace. Because courage is the fuel for those who dream. And dreams are only as big as you make them.

 

Accidents Happen February 5, 2014

Left behind. That’s how I felt when mom packed up baby Carter to go on a car ride without me today. The way she was bustling around the house, I knew adventure was on the horizon. And where there’s adventure, there’s Wiley if I have anything to say about it. But when mom left, I wasn’t on the car ride manifest.

Instead there I was, in my beloved spot in the window seat, left behind. I felt pretty bad about it too, at least until mom came back earlier than I anticipated. I could tell right away something was wrong. It wasn’t until I heard the story that I understood what happened.
It's All Right
Mom was in a car accident. She rear-ended a car on an off ramp of the freeway on her way to the mall (where she intended to window shop with Carter). We got snow last night and the ramp was not salted, she explained to whoever she was talking to on her cell phone, so there was nothing she could do to stop in time. I felt my heart jump into my throat as I listed to her recall the experience.

Something pretty awful could have happened to my forever mom and my little person today. And here I was feeling sorry for myself being left at home. I certainly learned my lesson, but there’s more to it than that. Again I observed mom disappointed. Upset. Crying. I really hate when she cries.

Suddenly I didn’t feel left behind anymore. I realized with a start that these things happen. Accidents. They have a way of happening at the most inconvenient of times and bringing people down in the process. But they do happen. It reminds me of something I’ve seen on a commercial for Suburu. The accident that happened today wasn’t nearly as intense (or scary) as the ones highlighted in the commercial, the lesson remains. They lived.

It was awful. It happened at an inopportune time. But they lived. That’s what matters.

 

In My Corner January 18, 2014

Take it or leave it. Regardless of the chapters I have experienced in five years of doggie life, that has always been my approach to one thing. Me. My personality. Who I am. It’s something I developed a long time ago and nothing can change this one little thing about me.

In Your CornerI think it’s something people struggle with sometimes, but for me it has never really been a question. I have nothing to hide. I have no reason to act any differently. I am confident in who I am.

I realized it today, when mom and dad had a couple of visitors who I had only met once or twice before. I was not aggressive, but Jesse needed to know baby Carter is my special little person. I stayed very close to the baby and watched Jesse’s every move.

“Oh, Wiley’s protective,” Jesse noted. Well of course I am, I thought, he is my little guy. My little person. It’s my duty to protect him. To keep him safe. I have his corner.

That’s when I realized it is one thing to know who you are in life. It’s something completely different to have someone recognize it. And embrace it. Someone to love and respect who you are at all costs. To be in your corner. This is what I fear people are really missing when they struggle with self confidence or self esteem. They don’t have an advocate.

“A boy can learn a lot from a dog: obedience, loyalty, and the importance of turning around three times lying down,” American humorist Robert Benchley said.

Indeed, dear baby Carter has a lot to learn. And I know a lot of that will happen without me. But I decided in that moment today he will never had to worry about this one thing as long as I have something to say about it. Because I will be his advocate. He will always have me in his corner.

 

Recipe for an Unforgettable Day November 12, 2013

Some days are imprinted on our minds as if they were yesterday. Others blur and fade. And, every now and then, life hands us a combination of both. I’ve noticed that heightened emotions and extreme situations in the same day create a recipe for the kind of day that you’ll never forget with moments that you struggle to remember.

Like what happened to my mom one year ago today. I knew something was awry that morning when she and dad interrupted our usual sleep routine to go to the hospital well before most people wake for the day. It was still dark outside, and (unfortunately) there was a sense of darkness in both of them. Fear. It haunted us that day.

I worried the entire time they were gone, and my worry met its match when they returned. It was about eight hours later, but may as well have been eight months the way I saw it. Nothing could have prepared me for the days that followed.Hope Floats

There is a sound us canines make when we’re in pain. Mom hates it. It’s akin to a screech or a squeal, and it communicates that we are in intensely extreme discomfort. I don’t make it often, but when I do it’s usually because someone stepped on my paw or my tail. And I immediately seek some sort of acknowledgment from the person since I know they couldn’t have meant to hurt me.

Mom was the embodiment of the people version of that sound those few days after surgery. She had something called knee reconstruction surgery, where the doctor apparently grafted her a new ACL, repaired an incredibly shredded MCL and did a repair on a horizontal tear on her meniscus he only does in 5% of cases. Whatever all that means didn’t matter to me.

What did matter was the immediate aftermath, and the painful recovery that followed. I hated every minute of it. Worse yet, I hated to see dad struggle to take care of her and somehow (at the same time) shield her from how afraid he really was. Fear. I know that’s part of the reason mom kept crying out in the night. She was afraid. And so was I. It was disarming for me to see my people, my rocks, seem to be crumbling around me.

Those days, those fearful days, are imprinted on our minds and hearts forever. Yet, with time, they blur and fade. But what I remember most from the heightened emotions is what I am most thankful for today. We got through it. We persevered. And now look at us. Here we are a year later with a little person on the way. Mom’s knee (almost never) bothers her anymore. All of this stands to show – fear is no match for hope.