Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

A Piece of Art August 18, 2013

It’s a big question with a big answer. Which is funny to me because it’s coming in such a little package. But I’ve been hearing a lot about it around here lately, so I can say with some authority that it is very important to my parents to make the right decision. There’s just one thing I’m not understanding. Call me a simpleton, but hasn’t the sex of the baby pretty much been figured out since he or she was conceived? Sure, the identifiable organs only formed recently, but it’s been a little person boy or little person girl all along. Decisions, Decisions

So what’s the big deal? They cannot seem to decide whether or not to find out the sex of the baby at the upcoming ultrasound. The funny thing is, I sometimes think I know them better than they know themselves and I think deep down they both wan to know. I feel like they’re both mentally counting down the days until they can find out. There will be no waiting until January 16 for these two.

Meanwhile, as the (allegedly) unbiased observer, I hear the points on either side of the decision. Mom doesn’t really like calling their future little person an it. Dad has thought from the beginning that it’s going to be a girl (mom’s not so sure). It would be nice for them to buy gender specific clothes and things for the nursery (formerly known as Wiley’s room, but I’ve made peace with this). Then there’s that one thing. That one little word that means so much. Surprise. This is the word that (I think) has (almost) won my mom over to the waiting side. God only gives us so many happy surprises in life, and this is one of them, as dad’s aunt told them.

Well, I’ve got a bone to pick with that. It’s a big question with a big answer. And it’s going to be a blessed surprise either way. But the way I see it, so many times the “right thing” is what is in our hearts, not in what people tell us. Besides, my (albeit romantic) little doggie heart has this theory about surprises. Sometimes life’s greatest gifts are a surprise regardless of the timing of delivery.

As French playwright Francoise Sagan said “art must take reality by surprise.” Well, I love surprises. And whether I found out soon or later – whether it is a boy or girl – this little person will be a piece of art to me.

 

Like Riding A Bike August 11, 2013

I blame my fairly parent-free puppyhood. My dad left my mom before I met him, and I lost my mom way too early. But that doesn’t excuse my selfish thinking lately. We canines love unconditionally and selflessly after all. Hard as it may be to admit, everything is not about me. There’s a nervous energy in the Schmidt home lately. It makes sense, with a baby on the way and all. But I realized today we have more than that in common. I’ve been pretty selfish, haven’t I?

I’ve been going about this (soon-to-be) big brother gig all wrong. I’ve been so worried about being a good big brother I didn’t think twice about how my people must be feeling about becoming parents. Parents. Yes, that is definitely a bigger deal than being a brother. Sure, all parts make a family whole. But being parents is one of life’s most excitingly terrifying miracles.

This all became startlingly obvious to me today when my parents were agreeing how much they miss biking together this summer. My regularly accident-prone mom is playing it safe staying away from the two-wheel balancing beam just in case her evolving center of gravity should befall her. And I noticed nerves in their conversation that I’ve been seeing a lot more of lately. No More Nerves

I wished I could jump in to remind them my mom didn’t learn how to ride a bicycle until her 27th birthday. It’s not really my confession to make, but I don’t think she’d mind. She grew up like any other child in every other way, but riding a bike was not part of her particular childhood story. I remember the day well.

She and dad came home with an air of excitement us dogs can sense in less obvious things like racing heartbeats and quicker breathing patterns. With them they brought a contraption I learned later was called a bicycle. I didn’t care for this new toy as it seemed to have a directly inverse relationship to my walks around the neighborhood. Instead of taking a walk with me, she would go off on a bike ride with dad.

Bike rides aren’t like car rides. No dogs are allowed on bike rides. But it seemed to bring them both joy, so I gradually let my feelings of disdain subside. Now it’s time to do the same with my nerves about being a big brother.

Because I saw it again today. Mom is already mothering the baby by staying away from something she enjoys that could put him or her in danger. Dad was an excellent (and incredibly patient) teacher with mom learning to ride a bike. Instead of catching the nervous contagion, I should be focusing my energy on reinforcing for my forever family the truth. They’ve already been parents. For three years, they’ve been the best parents a doggie could ask for. I don’t know what they’re so nervous about.

 

Won’t Back Down June 22, 2013

I made at least 76 different people smile today. I’m not certain of the exact number but I don’t need to know that to know how happy this makes me. Today mom took me to Fido Fest, a local celebration of all things canine. And it was fabulous. There were hundreds (maybe even thousands) of dogs of so many different shapes, sizes and breeds. It was a sight to be seen.

So we seized the day and shared my joy from the ground up with whomever would take it. Literally. This morning mom printed off 150 fliers with my silly face on it promoting the blog. We got to the festival, found a good spot, and I stood proudly by her side as we handed out the fliers. I thought it would be fun but that optimism faded away a lot sooner than I could have imagined.

The first person who walked by said no thank you. The second person didn’t say anything. The third just waved her free hand at us while her Westie (who was wearing a doggie visor) glanced at me apologetically from her perch in what appeared to be a doggie stroller. I didn’t understand. Why would anyone say no thank you to a daily dose of joy? Why would anyone ignore a smile? Why would you wave away a happy moment in your day?

That’s when I felt my proverbial foot start to tap to the beat of a familiar anthem of anyone who has been told “no one too many times. “Well I know what’s right, I got just one life in a world that keeps on pushin’ me around but I’ll stand my ground and I won’t back down.” Thank you, Tom Petty, for reminding me of my true purpose.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that things turned around in that moment. People started taking the fliers, reading them as they walked away, and turning around to smile at mom and I after taking a couple steps. They turned back around and smiled. At least 76 different people turned around and smiled. Thanks (in part) to the various kinds of distractions that made up my surroundings, I lost count after that.

 

On Three Strikes: Angels and Demons April 15, 2013

Angels And DemonsSome believe in the Holy Trinity. Others (who don’t) still see three as a sacred number. Little ole me? I believe the opposite of the baseball metaphor that you’re out after three strikes. Indeed, I would argue that three is a Holy number that enables the magic to happen. The third time was the charm in my life and I can’t say I’d change that.

The way I see it, I’ve had three real “homes” in my life.

The first was the home I had with my mom and brothers before we were separated. I was so happy there, amidst my true biological pack. I would wish we had never been separated if not for the happiness I have in life now.

The second was the home I had with Jo and the man with the leather belt. I know most dogs (and maybe even some people) would question how I could possibly see this stop in my heritage as a home in my life. But I also know I’ve said before that home is where the heart is, and (while I lived there), my heart was home with Jo. I loved her more than most canines I’d ever encountered, and I know she loved me. It wasn’t always the most pleasant experience for me when she squeezed me so hard I thought I’d surely lose an organ, but at least I knew in those precious moments I was loved. She was home to me, and that was enough.

Finally (after a couple of stints in the humane society), I found my forever home, and (let me tell you) that has been pretty darned special. My forever mom sometimes hugs me as hard as Jo did, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think of Jo in those moments. I hope from the bottom of my doggie heart she is thriving in the world and has found something to do that brings purpose to all that love in her heart.

Thinking about Jo and my birth family make me realize the only demons I encounter in my present are from my past. But (as with anything) I do my very best to find joy in even the oddest of places. Demons don’t scare me anymore. Instead I see the less-than-favorable demons of my past in the light of the angels now, as I find joy in all experiences that lead to learning and the betterment of my general well-being.

I wouldn’t be the dog I am without being separated from the emotional steadiness of my birth mom and brothers. I wouldn’t have the heart I do without my time with Jo and the man with the leather belt. And I certainly wouldn’t know true unconditional love if not for my current situation in my forever home.

I’ve said before that I am a believer in second, third, fourth and fifth chances. Furthermore, that I believe the opposite of the baseball metaphor that you’re out of chances after three strikes. Instead, I would argue that three is a holy number when the magic happens. The third time was the charm in my life and I can’t say I’d change that.

For me, the third time has been the charm. I don’t care if my mom sometimes hugs me so hard it hurts my little doggie lungs, because I know that is my own personal sign of progression in life. I may not always have had it this good, and now I am loved enough to get my fair share of regular hugs. Forget you, demons of my past. I’m a much bigger fan of the angels.

 

Wise Beyond Their Years March 16, 2013

To him, my name is Wall-e. He doesn’t much appreciate when I try to hug him when I see him. Nor does he like when I confuse his plush horse toy for Mr. Prickles. I know he didn’t like it when I pulled him to the ground when we were walking to the park together for the first time. But three-year-old David loves me anyway, and I love that about him.  On the Jungle Gym

I remember the moment when I first knew we were bound to be buddies for life. It was about a year ago, and  we were walking to the playground and mom had let him hold my leash. It went fine for a bit, until I saw a neighbor dog and flipped out a little. All right, all right, I flipped out a lot. I pulled my poor little new friend to the ground. Don’t worry, it wasn’t hard enough to hurt him, but it was definitely hard enough that I will never forgive myself for losing control like that. He looked at me with his big brown eyes and I could see the confusion on his face.

“Why did you hurt me Wall-e?” he asked. I wished at that moment I could scream that I didn’t mean it, and that I felt terrible. If anything, I wanted to impress him so he’d want to be my pal. So you can imagine my surprise at what he said a few minutes later when we were about to go down the slide together at the playground.

“I forgive you Wall-e,” two-year-old David said, “and I love you.” Honesty is such a priceless treasure, and I realized how priceless it is to me on our journey back to the playground about one year later. He still doesn’t care for my doggie hugs (not to be confused with bear hugs), but I could see it in his eyes today: he really does love me.

Walking to the Playground

If I ever got to spend some time with a big group of school children, I would tell them to cherish their innocence and imagination. I don’t care if they don’t listen or don’t believe me: they need to hear it. So much can be learned from a little person’s perspective on the world. The sky is the limit for imagination. Love comes easy. Forgiveness is never questioned. Want to know about living the high life? Well, from what I can tell it happens between the people ages of about 2 and 8. But it doesn’t have to stop there.

I don’t care that he calls me Wall-e. It doesn’t bother me (too much) that he doesn’t like my hugs. (I mean, who doesn’t like a doggie hug!?) I can move past the misunderstanding about his plush horse toy. But I love him because he loves me. And I will never stop learning from the little people in my life. They are wise beyond their years.

 

Down So Long? Look Up. February 23, 2013

Feast or Famine?Love in a dog’s life is feast or famine at times. Please do not misunderstand: this is not to say I am ever short on love in my forever home. It’s just that sometimes, it overwhelms me while at others it is a whisper quietly reminding me of its presence.

Today, like most Saturdays, it overwhelms me. Most Saturdays in the Schmidt household start the same. It is a day’s break from the routine when my mom and dad both go away all day to this zany place called work. Instead, they sleep an extra hour or two, and when they wake we all engage in something I’ve heard my mom call a love fest.

It sounds more ridiculous than it is, but these precious weekend morning moments are what get me through the long weekdays when mom and dad are away. I would prefer they not be aware of the severe separation anxiety I feel when they are away during the week. It gets a little easier with time, but there is always this ghost in my mind reminding me that maybe they will never come back and I will end up on the streets lonely and unloved again. I was down so long it’s still way too easy to go back there in my mind.

Then Saturdays come along, as if God wants to remind me of how lucky I have it and how silly I am to doubt my blessings. Instead I count them. A Saturday starts with far more pets than usual from both mom and dad. They take extra time to talk to me, tell me they love me, and (best of all) say how much they love each other. Saturday mornings are joy, from the ground up.

At first, I hesitated to share these private precious moments with the world, as I know how comical it might sound to an outsider. But never have I withheld my truest of truths, and I don’t intend to start that silliness now. A dog’s tale never lies.

Love, at times, is feast or famine. It can overwhelm my spirit in the most surprisingly cumbersome ways. But I think it’s that way for people sometimes too. I’ve seen people in my life be completely overwhelmed with love in the purest of life’s moments. These are the moments that bring joy to life. These are the moments for people who have been down too long to look up.

 

Daily Prompt: You can’t always get what you want January 9, 2013

I had a rare and awful nightmare last night. I know people sometimes mistake doggie nightmares for dreams about chasing squirrels or playing with our favorite little people. Sadly that is not always the case.

I walked into a room, the door shut behind me, and there was nothing. It was darkness. There was nothing but blackness all around me, so I sniffed around and there was literally no water, no food, no toys, no people…and the worst part was not knowing how long I would be there. Fortunately for me (mom woke me up because I was yipping) the terror didn’t last very long. I was grateful that she put an end to the madness, but I am still thinking it over. I can say with honesty I think that scenario is among my greatest fears.

I was sleeping...Don’t get me wrong, I am a firm believer in “The Single Woman” Mandy Hale’s thought that “sometimes God takes away everything you thought you wanted to bring you everything you ever dreamed of.” I now see it as a blessing to have experienced that in the years before my people brought me to my forever home.

After all, I was devastated when that family in Port Washington returned me to the humane society. Granted, I did not necessarily enjoy sharing a home with three other (much larger dogs) and those (pain in the neck) cats they had, but I definitely wasn’t alone in the dark room. I had company, food, and shelter, and I thought that I was finally living the high life. God knew better. He knew something was missing. Most importantly, he knew that sometimes what we want is so different than what we need.

I want my own doggie sized convertible so I can go on the flit whenever I please (I’m sure I’d find my way home, right?). I want to try chocolate (even though I hear it could kill me). I want to fly (and often try with no avail). Turns out the majority of things on my “want” list are not even good for me. Its almost like there is a reason I can’t have these things.

Little did I know that the same thing was missing from that home in Port Washington as the dark room of my nightmares: Love. To me, that is more important than my doggie Porsche, the chocolate that would kill me anyway, and the flying which is probably overrated. That is what I need.

It brings to life the words of historical heroine Hannah Sanesh, whose words also inspired today’s reading with Simple Abundance. “In my life’s chain of events nothing was accidental,” she said. “Everything happened according to an inner need.”

You can’t always get what you want, as the Rolling Stones put it,  but you get what you need.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/01/09/daily-prompt-fear/