Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Our Little Guy October 11, 2013

That didn’t last long. Less than ten days ago, I (figuratively) raised a scruffy paw in favor of staying scruffy for a cause. There was only one flaw in my plan. There is no really good way for me to communicate these kinds of choices I make with my forever people. They clearly didn’t get the message.

Before AfterThe good news is I saw my beloved groomer Mary and all my Paws R Us pals this week. The bad news? I’m no longer a participant in Scruffy September. Sure, I went a tiny bit longer without my routine visit to Mary. And I remain committed to the Out of the Darkness cause regardless. But I can no longer call myself scruffy.

At first I was kind of bummed out about it. Then it happened. Dad said it out loud. The news I have been dreading (and mentally denying) for the last eight months or so. You see, dad has been having awful itchy red eyes for some time now at seemingly random times. It’s not exactly constant, but its bothersome frequently enough he finally went to see an eye specialist today. And she confirmed the truth.

Dad, my forever person, is allergic. To me. I listened in horror as dad explained the outcome of his appointment to mom over dinner. The doctor apparently went as far as to inquire whether they-my people-would consider finding me another home. I felt like I’d been kicked. Hard. Right in the heart. My mind raced with questions I couldn’t ask. Silence was not my friend. And time seemed to slow to an absolute crawl.

I can honestly say I’ve never been so happy to hear dad laugh.

“I told her there is no way,” I heard him say as he looked down at me. “He’s our little guy and he always will be, won’t you buddy?”

Relief does not even begin to describe the feeling that washed over me in that moment. Seconds earlier I had been temporarily paralyzed with fear (that I would have to go back the humane society again, would never see my beloved people again, and would never get to meet my new little person). Now it was like I had the life breathed back into me.

They went on with their conversation, strategizing about ways to more effectively control my dander like vacuuming and brushing me more frequently. And I thought to myself “self, it’s not so bad being groomed more frequently if it means you get to stay a part of this family.” And it’s not. I quite enjoy seeing Mary and my pals. I will do anything I can do to help control this pet dander that is apparently contributing to my dad’s painful allergies. Because I love him, and (even though he never will admit it) he loves me. And, as Mahatma Gandhi so aptly observed, “where there is love there is life.”

So what if Scruffy September for a cause didn’t last very long. Because dad’s love for me clearly will. And that means the world to me.

 

Car Ride To Nowhere September 23, 2013

I went on a car ride to nowhere today. Well, it wasn’t exactly nowhere. It was to a place called Best Buy to get some kind of gadget I don’t understand. Dogs aren’t allowed inside, so I can’t say it is one of my favorite people stores (like Petco and Pet World, for example). And I didn’t get out of the car at all. Loving Life

But that didn’t really matter to me. What mattered was the context of my outing to nowhere: the company I kept. It was a random car ride on what I’ve come to recognize as a weeknight and (gasp) it was dad’s idea to have me come along. This is normal for mom (who regularly brings me along on those things called errands) but not for dad.

Mom frequently brings me along as we make our way from parking lot to parking lot. Not dad. He gets anxious when I voice my excitement about wherever we’re going (usually in the context of a whine or whimper). Not tonight. Tonight he wanted me by his side. He wanted his little copilot as he occasionally calls me when mom’s not around.

To be honest, it didn’t really matter to me where we went. It never does. But tonight was special to me even though we didn’t go to the park. Or the pet store. Or to see Mary the groomer (even though I’m overdue for a trim). Tonight we didn’t go anywhere in particular as far as I’m concerned. Best Buy doesn’t count since I can’t go inside and they apparently don’t sell anything for dogs there. In spite of that, it was a pretty great ride. It occurred to me as I waited patiently in the driver’s seat while dad was in the store. Even when you’re going nowhere, you really are going somewhere if you’re with the right person.

It brought to mind the thoughts of American sideshow performer Elizabeth Green, who once suggested “sometimes the most ordinary things could be made extraordinary, simply by doing them with the right people.”

I’m blessed enough that regular car rides are a fairly routine luxury for me. It’s nice when we end up somewhere like the dog park or the groomer, but ultimately it doesn’t really matter where we end up. Even if its at that Best Buy place where they don’t even sell dog toys (what kind of store with that many gadgets doesn’t carry dog toys?). Even if I don’t get out of the car at all. It doesn’t matter where we’re going nearly as much as who we’re with along the way.

 

On Neighborly Physics September 9, 2013

We all have at least one in our lives. One character we wish we had never met. One friend gone bad. One neighbor we can’t stand.

For me, it’s Demon Dog in the backyard behind mine. He scares me, irritates my people, and I fear for the threat he could be to the safety of my future little person.

For my newest dog park pal Tucker, it’s the neighbor man who lives next door to his forever home. He sounds like an angry person always carries a strong chemical smell I’ve come to recognize as alcohol on his breath. I didn’t say anything, but (at least from what I hear) he sounds like the man with the leather belt I once knew. I shudder to think of Tucker being exposed to such things. And Tucker shudders to think of the influence this man could have on the little people he oversees.

Since being at my forever home, I don’t think I’ve come across too many proverbial bad seeds. But I’m also not sure what the best course of action is when we cross paths with these sorts of characters on our journey through life. Every situation is different, but I think what brings each one together is a commonality of understanding. Ultimately we all have at least one of these people in our lives.Love thy neighbor

But how lucky we are to have this be the exception rather than the rule. I was reminded of this recently when I finally got to offer my condolences (in the form of some kisses and cuddles) to the next-door neighbor whose husband went to heaven a couple months ago. I can tell she is still very sad, but I think my love helped (at least a little) to bring a little sunshine into her day.

Mom talked to her too, about how she’s doing and life in general. Mom told Mary (that’s her name) about the baby and how she’s been struggling to stay active during pregnancy. What happened next surprised us both. Mary said my mom is welcome to use her pool as often as she’d like, at least until she drains and covers it for the winter.

It might sound like a small thing, but to my mom it was a pretty big deal. Ever since her knee surgery last November she’s wanted to get back into swimming. But something (I think it was fear) was holding her back. She used to swim competitively (a concept I’ll never understand – why would you intentionally spend all that time in the water?) and was afraid of how out of shape she’d be when she picked it up again. It turns out it wasn’t that bad at all, and she’s been going swimming a few times a week ever since.

We all have a few of them in our lives. A character we are so glad we met. A friend who will do anything for us. A neighbor who makes a difference. With all this good in our lives, what power is there in the bad? It reminds me of the scientific belief of English physicist Sir Isaac Newton. “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction,” he theorized.

I think there’s all kinds of ways we can choose to approach the negative people in our lives. I avoid Demon Dog at all costs. And I know Tucker will do whatever he can to protect his little people from the awful neighbor man. But all this thinking about neighbors served as a reminder that the negative influences are the exception not the rule. If anything, they make us appreciate the positive people in our lives that much more.

 

My Kind of Zoo June 4, 2013

My mom and I have this weekday morning routine. She usually wakes up before dad, let’s me outside and then feeds me my kibble and water. I stand guard on the bath mat (which I’m certain is laid out specifically for me because of the chilly tiles) while she readies for the day. Dad leaves for that place called work, usually giving me a healthy pat on the head before closing the door behind him. When mom is leaving, I do a circle and sit in my doggie bed in the kitchen awaiting the surprise treat she always leaves me. (I’m not one to turn down the treats, but let’s face it – a treat is no fair trade for her leaving me all day).  The New Look

Today I was mid-sit in my bed when she said the magical words that turned routine into an adventure. Car ride, Wiley? Well all right then, I thought, as I practically jumped into my leash and off we went. A few minutes into the ride, she said another set of words I associate with adventure. Haircut, Wiley? I wagged my tail wildly to ensure she knew this was a more than acceptable turn of events. It might not be the typical doggie reaction to going to the groomer, but I’m not your typical doggie.

While I’m not that crazy about the entire process of being bathed, trimmed, and brushed, I do love everything else about my trips to Paws R Us. When I get there, I’m greeted by all of my pals who hang out at the shop while the groomer named Mary does her magic. It is chaos personified, with dogs everywhere pacing and playing and barking. It’s my kind of zoo.

My time today took an interesting turn for the thought-provoking as I waited in the back room for mom to come pick me up. I met a lab/chow mix puppy named Titus who wanted to wrestle and paw at my head and bare his razor-sharp puppy teeth. I wanted to talk philosophy and dreams. (I tried telling him about my blog, but he didn’t seem to have any idea what a computer is, let alone a blog).

That’s when it hit me. I’m getting older. I used to love engaging with rabble rousers like Titus, but today I only enjoyed our playtime for a few minutes before I got bored. I guess it would be kind of like the equivalent of when a person finds his or her first gray hair. I can’t say it was a happy revelation to come to amidst the adventure of today. I even found myself having a moment of self-doubt, like maybe my forever mom and dad won’t love me as much when I get old and loose my spark.

But it didn’t take much to snap me out of that horribly sad state of mind. I saw my spark was alive and well in mom’s eyes when she came to take me home. He looks adorable, she told Mary with a humongous smile on her face. And just like that, all of my negative thoughts faded away.

This is the mom, I thought, who feeds me and walks me and plays with me and tells me she loves me. What was I thinking? I decided then and there to leave my self-doubt behind just like all my fur on the groomer table. As it should be, according to the wise words of great transcendental thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson. “Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you,” Emerson once said. It’s amazing what one can learn about yourself from a little unexpected adventure to the zoo.

Before            Before and After. What do you think?                  After