Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

A Wise Man Listens December 5, 2014

Sleep is a close friend of mine. We’ve basically been best friends forever since day one. I’m sure my schedule in a day consists of no more beauty sleep than the average canine. There’s the early morning and mid-morning naps, followed by the early afternoon and mid-afternoon naps. Usually there’s a late afternoon and evening nap too before it’s finally time for one of my absolute favorite times of the day – bedtime.

An outsider might see this as a waste of time. I see it as the opposite. I do a lot of deep thinking and dreaming big in my sleep. I also usually have one ear open to the world. It’s a trick I learned during my time at the Oshkosh Humane Society that I have perfected over the years. Listening. From the ground up, it’s one of many reasons why we dogs are known as man’s best friend. We listen when we’re asleep. We listen when we’re awake. And when I say we listen, we really listen. Tired from the run

We are present in a way I can’t say all people are, at least from what I’ve observed. I say this with a soft kindness in my heart, because I know it is a skill that takes practice, and not everyone has had the practice necessary to be a good listener. It helps that we can’t talk back, obviously, but it’s more than that. We might not understand all the words that well, but we read emotion like champions.

So I couldn’t help but giggle mentally when I found a scrap of paper dear baby Carter threw on the ground while my forever family ate dinner. According to mom it was something called a fortune from a Chinese cookie. It bothers me that I don’t know who to attribute the quote to (other than to say it was once inside a fortune cookie), but the words stuck with me. “Anyone can hear, but a wise man listens,” the paper read.

Anyone can hear, but a wise man listens. The subtle message in the words is one with which I resonate deeply. I aspire to be wise, which I understand means making wise decisions. Some might argue I’m choosing poorly spending so much time sleeping. I would argue first that I always have one ear open. But more importantly, I would defend myself with the simple truth. I’m resting up.

To be a good dog. To be a good listener. To be a good friend to my people. And it’s because of these things I know there’s a purpose behind everything in life if you chose to listen instead of hear.

 

Can You Hear Me Now? April 21, 2014

Filed under: Man's Best Friend — Wiley Schmidt @ 9:06 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

I think it’s kind of hard for a lot of people. Well, I’ll be honest – I know it’s really hard for a lot of people. Listening. From the ground up, it is a skill. A gift. Most definitely not a given trait of human personality.

And I say this with authority in the matter. There is a good reason we four-legged canines are known as man’s best friend. Well, there’s more than one, but for the sake of my experiences today I shall focus on one. I would argue that’s okay since it might just be one of the most important behaviors that distinguishes us from people. We listen. Whole-heartedly, sincerely and honestly. We listen.

Experience observing people has taught me that is not always the case from person to person. Too frequently I think person one is too caught up in his or her own story (or stories) to notice what person two is trying to say. I often mention my appreciation of the person behind the people. This is probably one of my very best examples of how that is not supposed to work.

No matter how a good a person may thing he or she is at hiding it, we dogs always know when something bigger is going on. Words may not even be involved, but we listen. I Am Listening!

The same cannot always be said for people unfortunately, and so begins the fundamental communication struggle. Everyone has something to say. That’s given. But not everyone is capable of listening. Therein lies the problem with interpersonal communication.

It happened in my forever home today. My mom and her mom were both having bad days for very different reasons that don’t necessarily matter to the story. They both needed to talk about it. And, as a result, neither of them made good listeners. They forgot the person behind the people because their person was encountering challenges of their own.

“Listening is a magnetic strange thing, a creative force,” suggested American psychiatrist Karl Menninger. “The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us fold and expand.”

It happens. I’m not saying it shouldn’t. But I am saying that some days when there is nothing else to listen too, it wouldn’t hurt to try a dog’s hand (er, I mean paw) at it. Listen. From the ground up, put aside everything going on in your own life and listen to something someone else has to say.

 

A Little More Action February 2, 2014

Filed under: Man's Best Friend — Wiley Schmidt @ 9:42 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

ListeningWe don’t have a choice. Even if we did, I’m not sure any of us would change it. There is something us canines are really gifted at. One, because we can’t talk. But more importantly (if you ask me), because we care. We are great listeners. It’s part of our charm.

You see, I think a lot of people make the mistake of thinking it takes at least two people to have a conversation. That’s not always the case. Mom talks to herself all the time. Sometimes she talks to me. And lately she’s been talking to baby Carter.

He doesn’t talk back, but he doesn’t have to. He listens. He might not understand a thing she’s saying, but he doesn’t have to. He listens. And I stand by doing what dogs do best. Listening.

I realized today there is a lesson to be learned from this. “Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d have preferred to talk,” suggested newspaper columnist Doug Larson. Sometimes I do wish I could talk. And these are the moments its probably best I listen.

Even if I had a choice, I don’t think I would change that.