Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

The Same In Any Language October 21, 2013

He was patient. He was kind and gentle. And he fooftered. A lot. These are the things people are saying about my dear doggie cousin Scotty tonight. At the age of 12 1/2 he has left us for the Rainbow Bridge, and I can’t help but join the family in mourning his loss.

We All Have A StoryBut there’s this thing I need to share about Scotty and I. We didn’t exactly get along. This is not for lack of trying on either of our parts. We were family. And we liked each other. Scotty the greyhound and Wiley the terrier just didn’t really speak the same language. When we would get together at family functions, he would relax in what I deemed his “spot” somewhere in the middle of the living room floor. I would try with all my might to entice him into a game of chase. I wagged and jumped and pawed. And he laid there, calm as a cucumber, often in a deep and peaceful slumber. I’d never really met a dog like him before.

It all made sense when I learned more about his background. We all have a story and Scotty was no different. He spent the first five years of his life as a working dog at a greyhound race track. I can’t imagine what that must have been like, but I can testify to the quirks that became part of his unique personality as a result.

I adapted pretty easily to my forever home when I was adopted because I was used to the same things many of us rescue dogs are accustomed to. To a greyhound like Scotty on the other hand, a home was a whole new way of life. It was like a new chapter, a fresh start, and (best of all) it incorporated characters into his life like Ken and Sue (his forever people). I can tell from the time we spent together they loved him deeply, which is all any dog really ever strives for. Though I’m not even sure he knew he was a dog. In his mind he was a companion.

Scotty lived a full life as what I would describe as a servant leader. He may not have understood play, but he understood patience (which is not exactly the norm in us canines). It was with this unique sense of patience he taught me you can like each other an awful lot but sometimes you just don’t speak the same language. And that’s okay because the basic lessons of life are the same in any language.

I’ve said before all characters enter our life for a reason. I know Scotty entered mine to teach me some very important life lessons. He was patient. He was kind and gentle. He knew how to make people laugh (because let’s face it – foofters are just a fact of life). Most importantly, he taught us to live in the present. Now is the time. Not yesterday and not tomorrow. Now.

I know if he were here, he would likely agree with the words of Roman philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero who suggested “it is foolish to tear one’s hair in grief, as though sorrow would be made less by baldness.” So while I know he wouldn’t want those of us left behind to be sad (or tear out our fur for that matter), I take this moment (my own personal now) to pause and reflect on all things Scotty.

Rest in peace, dear friend. You will be missed.



The Shores of Heaven March 12, 2013

Filed under: Man's Best Friend — Wiley Schmidt @ 9:43 pm
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One spring morning a daughter and her dad took flight in a small plane in north-central Wisconsin. At 16-years-old, she was more excited to get her pilot’s license than her driver’s license. She had been practicing with her dad for some time now and couldn’t wait to take off. Little did either of them know it would be the last flight one of them would ever take. Moments after takeoff, the engine failed and the plane tumbled to the ground. Only one of them survived.

I know it as one who has loved wholeheartedly and lost. I know it as one who has seen people experience losses of beloved people and animals alike. I know it as someone with a beating heart. Survival isn’t always for the fittest. If losing a loved one is tough, living with the aftermath is worse.

Referred to by some as a celebration of life, funerals offer those left behind the chance to grieve together amidst the company of those who have their misery in common. Obviously they don’t happen that often in the doggie world (other than perhaps in the privacy of a beloved backyard), but it is for this reason that I can’t help but believe that funerals are usually more for those left behind than for the loved ones lost.

And, in most cases, those in attendance of a funeral occasionally have those moments for days, months, and years afterward. If you’ve lost someone you know what I mean. The moments where you close your eyes and pray and wish with all your heart you could have that person back. Just for a second. So you can ask them their opinion on something, hear them laugh, or touch their hand.

It happens to me with several of the loved ones from my past, most of whom I hope are still alive and well somewhere out there. I wish so badly I could consult with Rusty one last time, make sure Jo is okay, wrestle with my brothers again, or snuggle with my birth momma again. I wish I could erase my loss of them from my life and we could all somehow live happily ever after in my present.

Then it happens. I remember that if I hadn’t lost my mom and brothers, if I hadn’t gotten deserted by the man with the leather belt who lived with Jo, if I hadn’t met Rusty, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. Heck, I may not even be happier than ever in my forever home with my adoptive parents if not for all of the heartbreaking losses in my life.

Heavenly Reflections

Don’t get me wrong, I still have “those moments.” They happen all the time. But I find myself picturing an image the pastor brought to life a few days after the tragic plane crash that took the life of my adoptive mom’s 16-year-old cousin Shelly.

Think of her as being on a boat, happily journeying between what was and what will be, the pastor said. The person is paddling toward the shores of heaven where she is being welcomed by those who have already made the same journey. Meanwhile, she fondly waves goodbye to the shore of loved ones left behind as they become smaller and smaller and the people on the shores of heaven get closer and closer.

Shelly left behind her dad (who survived the crash), her mom and hundreds of friends and family who gathered together at her funeral to mourn her loss. But she’s happy now, looking down on us from heaven. And, like all loves lost, she lives on in our memories.