Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Because I Love You December 15, 2014

It happens all the time. Sometimes several times a day. To be honest, it happens so frequently, I could very easily find myself taking it for granted. In reality I know that is the absolute worst thing I could do. I Love You

That’s why when it happened today, I paused. I took it in. I wrapped my heart around it so tightly in an effort to remind myself how special the words actually are.

“I love you so much, Wiley. Do you know that?” These are words mom says to me pretty often, and rarely do the words include one sentence without the other. The statement and the question. I used to think it was kind of silly of her to ask a question with such an obvious answer, but time has taught me not to be curious about such things. It is what it is, and for that I am thankful.

She’s taken to saying it to dear baby Carter as well, which I found some irony in as I thought about it this afternoon. Because neither he nor I can say it back. I know soon he will be talking up an intelligible storm, but that has yet to come to fruition. And I have nothing by my nonverbal arsenal to show her the obvious truth that I not only know her words as truth, but adamantly return the sentiment.

I know this as certain as I know she doesn’t need an answer to her question. She asks it all the time. But I will never (ever) take that for granted. In my book, a person can’t say they love another person enough.

“Immature love says: ‘I love you because I need you,'” suggested German psychologist Erich Fromm. “Mature love says ‘I need you because I love you.'”

A dog can’t show their unconditional love for their people in enough different ways. Maybe it’s because I know what it’s like to not hear it enough (or ever). Or maybe it’s because I’m not getting any younger and feel the need to embrace it each time I hear it. Either way, it’s okay with me.
 

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
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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.

 

To Make You Feel My Love April 15, 2014

Some might call it intrusive. Or annoying. It is probably a surprise to no one that I beg to differ. In my world it’s expected. And adorable. At least most of the time.

I have this thing I do sometimes when I need some love. Or when baby Carter has been crying for more than five minutes and I need to know everything is okay. Or for no reason at all. I make it happen. This usually involves shoving myself in one way or another into the hands of the nearest person. Most of the time, that is my dear forever mom, and all of the time she honors my requests.A Variation of "the nudge"

It happened again tonight. For no particular reason at all, I simply didn’t want the love fest to end. She was petting me and telling me about her day and I was wagging and listening eagerly. When she stopped it came naturally to do something about it. So I did the move. Dogs and their forever people alike know the one.

The head move. I use my wet little doggie nose to nudge myself back into a love fest situation. And it works 100% of the time. It is my fail safe for almost any situation. And it made me realize something today as I enjoyed round two of animal appreciation time.

It’s okay to ask for help when you need it. It’s okay to ask for love from time to time. I’m certainly not ashamed to say its a part of my routine. Maybe not every day, but every so often you just need to feel loved. And in return, we love.

“When the rain is blowing in your face and the whole world is on your case, I would offer you a warm embrace to make you feel my love,” sings country singer Garth Brooks.

So I wouldn’t call in intrusive or annoying. I would call it expected and adorable. Especially if we all give the love when it’s asked for – then we have nothing to worry about. Because these things have a way of coming full circle. And the best thing about a circle is it doesn’t matter what part you fall onto. What goes around comes around.

 

A Little More Action February 2, 2014

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

 

Can You Hear That? September 4, 2013

I don’t care much for cell phones. I know some people call them “smart,” but I can’t say I agree. From what I can tell, these mini computers are nothing but a distraction aimed at keeping people interested in everything but their present company. (Not to mention the teeny tiny buttons are far too small for any dog to attempt to navigate and they are capable of producing sounds that hurt my little doggie ears). They are good for keeping in touch with loved ones, but (in my humble opinion) they are otherwise overused.

Can You Hear It?My mom apparently shared my feelings (albeit temporarily) today as she was so frustrated with her phone she verbally considered throwing it as hard as she could into the hardwood floor. (That’s the thing about computers – they have a way of crashing when we need them most). I stood at the ready as I do with all things about to be thrown and was highly disappointed when she didn’t follow through with her destructive plot.

As I mourned the loss of yet another battle (me versus the phone for my mom’s undivided attention), I reminded myself the real purpose of these phones. (As much as I occasionally wish they were), they are not akin to tennis balls. They are designed to make and receive calls. Therein lies its greatest blessing.

If only we had phones capable of calling us to our purpose in life. Not our job, our career, or our hobby. I’m talking about our true purpose and meaning for breathing. That is a phone I would stand behind. But alas, no such invention exists (yet) so we are left to our own devices to receive our higher calling in life. Or are we?

“No other (person) on Earth can do what you are called to do, can give to the world what you alone were sent to give through your authentic gifts,” writes Sarah Ban Breathnach in Simple Abundance. “The call may be so faint you can barely make out the message, but if you listen you will hear it.”

If you listen you will hear it. Not the incessant chiming, chirping, beeping, vibrating and singing songs those cell phones make. Because let’s face it. Even those mini computers sometimes really aren’t that “smart.” Instead be still. Listen closely. Your heart may just hold an answer your mind has been too distracted to hear.