Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

For Good Reason February 10, 2015

It’s not too often I feel misunderstood by my forever people. But this is one of those things they’ve never gotten right. It started a long time ago, and it’s one of those things I’ve always just done and always for good reason.

It started when I was a puppy. Something about eating together with my puppy brothers and birth mom was special. We didn’t ever have much, and I knew my birth mom worked find the scraps that we did have. So it meant something to me that we all ate together. Deep in Thought

I carried it through even after that fateful day I lost them, almost out of respect for where I came from.

I’ve lived in my forever home for almost five people years now, and in all that time I think my people got it wrong. I used to wait for my forever mom to get home from that place called work to before I would eat. My forever dad thought this was because she is my favorite, but that is where he went wrong. I would agree she’s my person, but that doesn’t necessarily mean she’s the only one. My dear forever dad is equally important to me, as is dear baby Carter. I’ve even reserved a place in my heart for the new little person.

All this time, I think that’s what they assumed was my reasoning. They assumed wrong.

The reason I always waited for mom was she was the second (and last) of my people I waited for each day. When she came home, the family was complete. For the last year or so, she almost always beats dad home, so the tables have turned. Now its when he gets home that I feast on my delicious dinner of champions. Because that’s when the family is complete.

It’s one of those things I’ve always done. And that’s what I know my dear birth mom would have wanted for me. I didn’t get to spend much time with her, but she lives on in my heart, through the little things that make me who I am. I used to wonder if my people would ever figure that out. Now I know it doesn’t matter if they do.

 

A Lesson In Sacrifice December 23, 2013

Disgruntled, disheveled and exhausted. Or in other words crabby. That’s how mom came home today from that place called work. Apparently her mood was reflective of the majority of the folks with whom she came into contact today. People who wanted things done. Now. Unless yesterday is possible, in which case they would prefer that.

The truth is, on a day like today, you are only one person who can really only do one thing: your best. I got the impression that’s what she did, but it sure took its toll on her emotions. She looked like she could cry the moment she walked in the door. And my keen attentiveness to such things informs me this would most definitely not have been tears of joy.

Watching and waitingThat’s when it happened. Just as she came through the door, dad stepped up to the plate. He took one for the team. I was ready with all my usual tactics for brining joy into a room and dad beat me to it. He swept her away to some place immediately upon her arrival home and when they returned they were laughing. No more almost tears. It was really something to see.

What mom doesn’t know is dad had a rough day too. He didn’t sleep much last night either. He’s overcome with worry of his own about all things pregnancy and labor and baby related. I’ve even been guilty of forgetting this in the last nine months. But none of that mattered in those crucial moments when mom got home. He pushed everything he was feeling aside to bring joy to mom.

I never really have to do such things. Sure, I worry and have my own things that evoke fear and stress. But for me, bringing joy to the lives of others rarely (if ever) involves sacrifice. The way I see it its ingrained in me as my work in my forever home. Except it’s not work because I love it so much. It’s part of what I’m meant to do.

Dad, on the other hand, definitely sacrificed his own thoughts and emotions to support mom tonight. And I’m proud of him. “If you want to be loved, be lovable,” suggested ancient Roman poet Ovid. Mom certainly wasn’t lovable upon returning home from that place called work today. Regardless of the reasons, she was an emotional wreck. But dad loves and cared for her anyway. And it worked. That’s the thing about selflessness – it tends to do the trick every time.

 

Letter From A Friend – Guest Blog December 5, 2013

Filed under: Man's Best Friend — Wiley Schmidt @ 8:39 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Deep ThinkingI had no idea what I was getting myself into when I started this blog. I just jumped in and started swimming (which is a big accomplishment for a dog). I know I’ve said it before, but I there is one thing in particular I wasn’t expecting when I started blogging all those months ago. The friendships. I had no idea how wonderful it would be to find a new family in this WordPress blogosphere, and yet that is what I’ve developed. Thank you all for being part of that for me.

In celebration of this, I wanted to share a guest blog I received a while back from my dear friend Ku from over at Haiku by Ku. In response to my request for a blog on Ku’s perspective on joy from the ground up: 

 

My dear buddy Wiley,

Having friends like you brings me joy. There are so many things in life that bring me joy, but what really brings me joy from the ground up is life! All the little things, all those little threads of joy that make life life all spring from the same deep root of life itself.
Life is filled with all sorts of things that make us smile, and frown, and laugh, and cry, and sing, and pout. But through the course of my puppyhood in the puppy mill, my rescue and healing journey, and now with my Mama and my new pack I have learned that all those things, all my experiences, both good and bad, are all a part of life. Without pain, there is no pleasure. Without fear, there is no love. Without suffering, there is no compassion. These are two sides of the same coin, the coin of life.
As the poet Kahlil Gilbran said, “The deeper that sorrow carves into my heart, the more joy it can contain.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. Though I am sure I would have been a sweet pup, had I not experienced the hunger, horror, and suffering during my first year of life, I do not think my heart would have the same capacity to hold and to allow to take root the eternal joy that is life itself!
Indeed, dear Ku, that is joy from the ground up. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. More importantly, thank you for being one of many of the friends who have become family over the last year.
For more by Ku, please check out his book to help support animal rescue,  as well as the other works of art listed below.
Through the Peacock’s Eyes, Insights for Spiritual Living
 

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.

 

Search and Rescue November 6, 2013

I’ve seen it all before. And the story ends the same every time. But today the moral of that story took me by surprise.

My mom misplaced her glasses this morning. She looked everywhere as I followed her through the house. They weren’t on the nightstand or under the bed (I helped her look). They weren’t in either of the bathrooms. They weren’t in the freezer (stranger things have happened). So she stopped looking. She went about her other business and that’s when it happened. The lost glasses were found on the dresser in the bedroom right where she left them the night before. Right where the belonged.

I see the lightAnd it struck me. She had to stop looking to find what was lost. It got me to thinking about this misconception I think people have about us canines being able to find anything we’ve left someplace. Sure, there are some breeds that are especially gifted at tracking just about anything. But there are others who leave a graveyard of buried bones in the backyard of a home when moving to another. I’m not proud to say I probably fall into the second category myself.

Especially when I think back to one night in particular at the Oshkosh Humane Society. It was the night after Rusty left me to go to doggie heaven. He took his contagious optimism with him, leaving me behind with nothing but my thoughts. So I resolved to change some things that night. I resolved to stop trying so hard to be adopted. I was probably not helping matters by trying to jump into the arms of all of my visitors anyway. So I stopped looking.

I know it sounds terrible coming from your resident doggie optimist but sometimes I think that’s what it takes to find what we’re really looking for. “Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves,” as one of my favorite transcendentalist thinkers Henry David Thoreau put it.

I’ve seen it all before and it always seems to end the same way. It’s quite the paradox really. From little things like mom’s glasses to life-changing things like when my forever people found me, sometimes what we seek is more easily found when we stop looking for it. And so the lost is found.

 

Great Expectations November 3, 2013

I’m not sure what I expected. We are a little more than seven months into this journey of life change (otherwise known as pregnancy) and I’ve noticed some patterns.

Feeling the LoveAlmost every time mom comes home from wherever those errand places are, she has some baby things. Diapers or wipes or onesies or sleepers. It’s like an addiction. I hear it’s called nesting and it’s normal. Meanwhile I find myself wondering whether mom realizes she will indeed still be able to leave the house after the baby is born. It’s not like the birth of my little person is the baby apocalypse.

Then there is dad. He is nesting in his own unique way. Projects. It’s become a weekly thing around here. One after the next after the next. It started with the wood trim, which he insisted would look better white. So he made it happen. Then came the kitchen table switcheroo – the nine-piece table formerly in our kitchen has been resigned to storage and replaced with a smaller five-piece version that dad has overhauled. What was once an outdated table now looks like something you’d see on one of those shows on HGTV, complete with bright colors and trendy new fabric seats.

It happened again today. Mom went grocery shopping and came back with an extra bag of baby goodies. And dad finished painting the trim in the bedroom. So I did what any dog would do. I slept the day away.

But I can’t stop thinking about these patterns. Especially dad’s since mom has basically been wearing her (pregnancy hormone driven) emotions on her sleeve. Dad holds such things a lot closer to the vest. I thought this might change or develop somehow during the pregnancy process, but it seems I was wrong.

Frankly, I think he’s freaked. And these projects are his way of focusing at least some of that nervous energy on forward progress. I wouldn’t say that’s a bad thing, since most of what he’s working on he’s been talking about since I first came into my forever home. There’s no time like the present, as they say.

I don’t know what I expected but I do know one thing for sure. He shouldn’t be nervous. American writer Clarence Budington Kelland said it best. “He didn’t tell me how to live,” as American writer Clarence Budington Kelland said, “he lived, and let me watch him do it.” I’ve seen him with the nieces and nephews (otherwise known as my favorite little people). I’ve watched him take care of mom after her knee surgery. And I’ve lived it. Firsthand.

Sure, he was a little hesitant to let me into his heart (similar to him being nervous about having a baby in the house). But he’s a great dad. I couldn’t ask for someone more caring and fun and loving (even though he still won’t admit he loves me). He lives, and I am a better doggie because I watch him do it.

 

May The Force Be With You October 1, 2013

Some love it. Passionately. Others hate it. Fervently. Regardless of which side of the Star Wars opinion fence you fall on, I think we can all agree about one thing: the force? It’s pretty cool. Using your mind to control your surroundings? Believe me, in a dog’s life of silence that would be a game changer. Use The Force

I occasionally find myself wishing I could use the force for a variety of things. But no matter how hard I focus on that food on my mom’s plate, it does not make its way to my mouth as I will it to. The same can be said of doors. I frequently long to open doors with my mind. Most recently, I caught myself willing the car door to open and alas! It did! But it wasn’t my mind that did the opening – I looked up to discover it was my dad who opened the door so I could hop inside.

Since then, I’ve noticed he does this for my mom too, though I don’t understand why since she can do it herself. (I obviously don’t have this luxury). It wasn’t until yesterday when my dad’s friend Josh was visiting that I pieced together this mysterious puzzle. Mom, dad, and Josh were having a conversation in what will become the baby’s room. I was listening comfortably from the cozy new rug they put in there (which is my new favorite spot to think) when Josh said something that caught my attention.

He’s thinking of adopting a dog, and he’s looking specifically for a Beagle rescue. Apparently there aren’t very many nearby so he’s thinking of taking a day trip with his two-year-old nephew to one about two hours south of here in a place called Chicago. When mom mentioned it was cute he was thinking of bringing his nephew, I got my answer. “Well I want to make sure the puppy gets along with kids,” Josh replied.

Josh is currently single, but he is looking forward to meeting his future spouse and starting a family (I think people call it settling down, though I’m not quite sure what exactly they’re settling down from). Mom melted when he said this, and that’s when I realized something very important about the way “the force” can work in real life.

It’s no secret I’m a mama’s boy, so I’ve always been a proponent of treating a lady a certain way. It is probably no surprise that these feelings feed my belief that chivalry and romance are not dead. Little things (from opening a car door) to big things (like planning a future) all make a difference in both the development and maintenance of lasting relationships. It’s like the force of today. And even if you are not a fan of Yoda and his pals, you have to admit the force is a pretty neat idea. Idea it is. Reality it is not. Except when it’s used in ways I’ve come to understand as chivalry. And romance. Indeed there is a certain force a man can have, perhaps not with his mental will, but with his heart.

 

Worth The Wait September 28, 2013

I’m definitely with mom on this one. Pregnancy math sucks. Leave it to people to make something so simple into something so complicated.

The way I understand it, science dictates the pregnancy actually starts two weeks prior to conception and runs for forty weeks. So you get a two-week head start but (this is where I get confused) because of it you’re actually pregnant for 10 months instead of the nine months with which every woman is familiar? That seems cruel enough on its own.My Lamp Is Lit

Add to it the way us canines process time and it makes sense to me why dogs only carry puppies for a little more than two months. But (as I understand this is something I most definitely cannot control) I begrudgingly digress.

Instead I focus on the real problem at hand. I simply cannot wait a moment longer to meet my little person. I have big ideas. Grand plans. Games I’ve developed in my head. None of which I can put into action until I meet the new addition to the family. We’re going to play chase around the house, and share food, and (obviously) become best friends.

Yet (at least from what I’m hearing around here) mom has 16 weeks to go. 16 weeks! That feels like a lifetime. But as I am in the habit of finding a silver lining I realized something today – it’s not a lifetime I intend to waste. Instead I shall continue scheming and dreaming.

The idea came to me today as I was feeling especially philosophical in the backyard. It was a beautiful fall day in Wisconsin and (as I rested my eyes) while lazing in the grass, my thoughts turned to the future. The backyard has this funny impact on me on days like today – like all of the stars align and it can somehow transport me through time. Or maybe I’m just crazy.

Nonetheless, my images of the future were all happy ones. My little person and I are playing together in the grass. There is giggling and wagging. There is nonsense conversation (as the little person is no more than two years old). There is friendship and love. There is joy from the ground up.

Frustrating as pregnancy math may be, it reminds me a bit of the words of Christian author Tertullian who once said “hope is patience with the lamp lit.” I certainly can’t wait for three years from now when all of these dreams come alive. Heck, I can barely wait three (or is it four?) more months to meet the little one. But my lamp is definitely lit. Hope is in my heart. These dreams will come alive. I know they will. We will be best friends. And it will be worth the wait.

 

The Day Forever Changed September 1, 2013

My birth mother never cared much for cars. Or people for that matter. Put the two together into a moving vehicle? She usually kept her distance. Except for that day. The day that changed my life forever. The day we all got separated.

It started like any other day in my early puppyhood. We woke to mom going hunting for food, so my brothers and I wrestled until she returned. We feasted on a gourmet selection of leftovers she scavenged from behind a nearby diner. Discarded toast crusts were my favorite since my brothers usually stolGaining Perspectivee the ham and sausage scraps before I could get to them.

After breakfast, we would journey outside our cardboard shelter. I know mom’s intention was to keep an eye out for someplace better for us to move to even though I quite fancied our cozy hideaway. She always wanted the best for us though, and I will never forget that.

I don’t know what go into her that day, but she seemed edgy. Skiddish. Scattered. Her usual fear of cars and people was thrown to the wind as we paraded through the streets. My brothers and I followed (somewhat) blindly, trusting she knew what she was doing.

That’s when it happened. There we were in the middle of the road when not just one but two cars were coming at us full speed ahead. From both directions. My heart raced almost as fast as I did away from the imminent danger. I assume my mom and brothers did the same, though I will never know for sure. I ran as fast as my puppy legs would take me until I made it back to the cardboard box we called home. I waited there, knowing certainly that’s where we would all meet up. I waited a day. Every moment that ticked by felt like hours. I waited a week. Nothing.

I was devastated. The events of the day haunted my every thought as I wondered how I could somehow relive those moments. How I could make it right. I should have looked back, I thought. I should have waited for my brothers. I should have stopped running sooner so I could have seen where they went. All of these should haves, could haves, would haves still occasionally pop into my mind.

But how would life be different had I done “right” that day? Would I still be with my mom and brothers somewhere? Perhaps. But then I would never have met Tiger and his puppies. I wouldn’t have gotten to protect Jo from the man with the leather belt. I wouldn’t have learned optimism as a way of life from Rusty at the Oshkosh Humane Society. I wouldn’t have found my forever home.

All of this makes me wonder whether there really is a “right” way in life. Moreover, I wonder whether what we sometimes think is right actually is what’s best for us on our path. I may be an optimist, but I can’t say whether there really is a way to get life right. I know my mom’s way involved keeping her distance from cars and people. But that isn’t the right way for everyone. It certainly isn’t for me.

The day I was separated from my birth family was one I will always remember. That day I learned a very important life lesson that forever can change in a moment. Sometimes you can make it right. Sometimes you can’t. The thing is we also don’t always understand what’s best for us in these moments. We can’t always see the big picture through the cloudy lenses of now. But that’s why they say hindsight is 20/20. In reality there is nothing I would change about that day because it led me to where I am today. And I wouldn’t change that for all of the dog treats in the world.

 

Bundle of Joy August 21, 2013

I got a taste of big brotherhood today. Literally. Her name is Alexis and she is the little person that my doggie pal Diesel oversees. She is two people months old today and she tastes delicious, at least by what I could tell by licking her cute little button of a nose. This was the longest bit of time we’ve spent together (my mom, Diesel’s mom Jessica, me, Diesel and Alexis) since she was born and I got the strangest feeling she somehow sensed she was not (technically) the only baby in the room.You Smell Like Joy!

I knew it was probably nonsense. I figured it was just probably the sense I got. It’s not that unlike me to misread a situation regardless of my good intentions. But then mom’s friend Jessica said it out loud and I knew that maybe (just maybe) I wasn’t imagining things.

“It’s like she somehow knows you have a baby in your belly,” she said to my mom.

Chilling with AlexisAnd it’s true. Baby Alexis was the very embodiment of joy when she was looking at my mom. She smiled so much I was surprised her little baby cheek muscles didn’t give out. She was entranced by my mom and I was entranced by her. As I’ve never seen such a little person smile before, I was unfamiliar with the completely overwhelming sense of joy you get from seeing a whole little body smile. She was baring the most beautiful completely toothless smile I’d ever seen, but it was more than that. Her eyes were smiling. She truly was a little bundle of joy.

It was a far cry from earlier in the evening when she was dreadfully unhappy about something. Just as the wonderment of her smile took me by surprise, I didn’t expect the guttural reaction I had to the sound of a baby crying. It bothered me, but not because of the noise. It bothered me because I wanted to help somehow. I got as close to her as I could (usually this meant getting close to the person holding her) and sniffed and stood at the ready in case there was anything I could do to help stop the crying. It didn’t take long for me to realize there probably isn’t anything I can really do. (Unless I somehow figure out how to feed her, change her, or put her to sleep – wouldn’t that be a trick?). I think I might struggle with that when my little person comes along.

But I now know what I have to look forward to in terms of the bundle of joy this baby will be. And I know it’s probably nonsense. I don’t know how it could be true. Yet I hold the belief that baby Alexis was so happy (partially because she had at that point been fed and changed and was readying for sleep, but also) because she knows she will have that little person in her life someday too. What I felt in my heart as I saw those smiles and licked that little button nose is undeniable. I got a taste of big brotherhood today. And it tasted like joy.