Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

In God’s Hands November 2, 2013

It’s normal for leaves to fall from the sky in my part of the world this time of year. Especially in my backyard paradise, where we have a few exceptionally large trees. As a result, a blanket of gold and orange currently coats the grass (or so my people tell me – it’s kind of tough for me to decipher these colors). But the leaves weren’t the only thing to fall from the sky today.

I was ruffling around in my backyard (aka leaf blanket) this morning when I got a surprise visit from two of my favorite little people and their parents. Apparently it wasn’t a surprise to my people, but they hadn’t said anything about Sophie and Sam coming by to spend the day with us. I suppose this may have been a proactive decision, as the mention of their names may have sent me into an excited panic until they arrived. But that’s neither here nor there.

Cuddles with SophieAfter their parents left, we sat together – Sam, Sophie, my dad, my mom and I – in the living room for a bit. (All right, more like cuddled. I nuzzled my way into Sophie’s lap pretty much the second she sat down). The television was turned to the local news station (where I’m proud to say my aunt works) and they were interviewing season 8 American Idol finalist Danny Gokey.

“God’s written a beautiful story for people,” he told the interviewer, “you just have to walk into it and embrace it.” I was touched by this idea, as I am a believer in embracing the good in all people, places, and things that make up my life story. But then she said it and my heart really turned to mush.

“When I was little,” nine-year-old Sophie said, “I used to think God had the world in His hands.” She was sure to clarify that now that she’s grown up she knows God isn’t actually floating in space holding the world in His hands, “but He’s still got us all taken care of.”

The leaves weren’t the only thing falling from the sky today. So was joy. From above. Wherever I looked, it seemed determined to find me in its varied poignant messages. God may not be physically holding the world from his perch in space, but He was certainly present in my mind today. As well as in my heart.

 

Paws for Prevention October 3, 2013

I need a haircut. I am scruffy and unkempt looking and I don’t like it. It doesn’t seem like it’s been long since I last visited Mary at Paws ‘R Us, but perhaps its because I actually like it there.

Don’t get me wrong, the bath part is pretty awful. Dogs are not meant to be sprayed, hosed and cleaned with a smelly soap that smells nothing like our natural doggie scent. But everything else about my time there is pretty special. I get to see all my pals, including the groomer Mary who always calls me handsome. And I get to ride in the car, which is always a plus.

Light Amidst DarknessI think it goes back to my time at the Oshkosh Humane Society where I associated grooming with attention, and associated attention with much-needed love. Tender loving care, I think it’s called. And whether it comes through a haircut, a golf game, or some time at a spa, we all need it every once in a while. It’s part of maintaining balance. Part of being alive.

I decided somewhere along the line to embrace my scruff in honor of a cause. Apparently people do this sometimes for things like Movember (mustaches for prostate cancer awareness). Well I declare my time of scruff-itude Scruffy September. And I know my cause. A people friend of dad’s shared a flier with me take struck a chord with my heart. “Walk your pooch to prevent suicide – Milwaukee Out of the Darkness Community Walk.” Sign me up!

I often talk a big game about being a light in the darkness. Here is my chance. Proceeds of the Out of the Darkness Community Walks benefit  the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the leading national not-for-profit organization dedicated to preventing suicide. Suicide. Its a foreign concept to most canines, but I know people who have been impacted by its aftermath. There is never a “right time” to lose someone, but being a loved one left behind as the result of suicide is a struggle I wouldn’t wish on anyone. You wonder what you could have done or should have done differently. You transfer blame. You grieve. Deeply.

It all makes me feel very silly obsessing about how badly I need a haircut. Maybe that’s the point. I’m lucky to be alive, regardless of how scruffy I might be. So I think I’m going to convince mom to take me to this walk. Because as Aristotle Onassis said “it is in our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.”

For more information on AFSP: http://www.afsp.org/

 

 

Pawsing Amidst the Noise August 30, 2013

They are apparently called hogs. Yet they sound more like lions. And I thought hogs was a synonym for pigs. My surroundings sure have me confused today.

Then I heard mom and dad talking and it all came together. H.O.G. stands for Harley’s Owner Group, which is widely known and respected as the world’s largest motorcycle club. These motorcycles roar loudly like lions. And these “hogs” taking over our city this weekend are not pigs. They are people coming in from all over the world to celebrate the 110th anniversary of Harley-Davidson. They’re coming to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where it all began. They’re coming home.

Being Still

I have to admit, these motorcycle contraptions appear to be a lot of fun. They are loud, fast, and no two bikes look alike. Beyond that, their owners are incredibly passionate about all things Harley. And I know dogs are learning how to drive cars in Australia, so I’m not sure what that means for our future in motorcycles.

I don’t suppose it matters all that much, especially with a little person on the way. But all of this noise got me to thinking about noise in our lives. It can be actual noise, like the constant roaring I am hearing outside my forever home tonight. Or it can be figurative noise, like when our brains can’t focus because there is simply too much happening in our minds. I think mom has this kind of noise in her head at night sometimes when she can’t sleep.

Being still amidst the noise isn’t always easy to do and yet I think that makes it even more important. The noise around the neighborhood tonight reminds me of the importance of pawsing to be still. Quiet. Peaceful.

“See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence,” suggested Mother Teresa. “We need silence to be able to touch souls.”

This is not to say there is anything wrong with enjoying the roar of motorcycle horsepower. In fact, I know some Harley lovers who would argue the sound is one of the most important markers of a Harley compared to other motorcycles. But those moments in between the noise are special too. I think these moments of silence amidst the noise are a big part of what this anniversary celebration is really about – passion. History. Culture.

They might be called hogs and roar like lions but they sure have a whole lot of heart. Welcome home.

 

A Love Uncommon April 23, 2013

It’s hard to explain. My heart rate picked up. I felt warm. I felt shaky in a way that made my paws feel like marshmallows beneath me. I didn’t understand it. I thought to myself, “self: could this be love?”

It was during my brief stint with the family in Port Washington, Wisconsin that adopted me for a few weeks. You know, the one with three cats and two other dogs? They deemed me to be too much a behavioral problem for them and returned me to the humane society, but not before I escaped on my own a few times. It began as what I would refer to as attention-seeking behavior, as I felt I didn’t receive as much emotional attention from the people trying to share it with so many other animals. But one warm summer day I found a new reason to make my way out the doggie door, jump the four-foot fence and explore the neighborhood.

Her name was Taffy, and she is the most beautiful Beagle I’ve ever seen. She lived a few blocks away with her forever dad Eric, who adopted her as a puppy. I’m not certain Eric ever knew what was happening between us since I only ever just saw her from a distance. But there was something in her eyes that made me wish we could run around her beautiful fenced in yard together for hours and hours.Love Makes Smiles

I know it might sound silly, since science tells very different stories about doggie love. Some scientists deny that dogs feel love for one another. Others believe the unconditional love we show our people is testimony to our passionate potential to love other dogs. It probably doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone that I am a believer in the latter theory that indeed dogs do love each other, perhaps not like humans but instead in ways that (at least the majority of) people wouldn’t understand.

Scientific theories aside, what I know for sure is I’d never felt like this before. I certainly loved my birth mom and brothers, Tiger and his puppies, and Rusty from the humane society. What I felt for Taffy was different in a way that stuck with me long after that family returned me to the humane society.

So you can imagine my surprise when one day, my parents brought me with them to that same northern suburb of Milwaukee. I’d come to recognize the scenery, as it is also where my dad grew up and where his parents still live. But this time we took a few different turns and ended up in my old neighborhood. In Taffy’s neighborhood. My dreams sometimes get the best of me, so I had to convince myself what was happening was real life rather than a dream. The memory I had of my dear Taffy was a love uncommon.

As were the moments that followed. I was reunited with Taffy that day. It turns out my forever dad and her forever dad go to that place called work together every day, and had become friends. I didn’t care. I was so happy to see her and finally have our time together running around like ninnies in her fenced-in backyard. It was a dream come true.

I’ve only seen her one more time after that, but I don’t have to spend more time with her to be sure. She is definitely one of the loves of my little doggie life. My mind still doesn’t believe it, but my heart knows it to be truth. I’m sure scientists wouldn’t be able to explain my rapid heart rate, above average body temperature and marshmallow paws either.

But time has offered me the chance to reflect on my feelings, which I now find brought to life through the words of ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, who said “being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone gives you courage.” I needed both strength and courage at that point in my journey, so I will be forever grateful to Taffy for helping me find what I needed to get through to the next chapter of my life.