Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Learning New Tricks January 25, 2014

The Time is NowWhoever said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks didn’t know what they were talking about. I’m five people years old and I learned a new trick today. Well, that’s not entirely true. But I thought about it. Does that count?

All kidding aside, my people talked tonight about teaching me to retrieve a specific toy based on its name. Flea. Mrs. Prickles. Mr. Prickles. Angry Bird. These are a few of the characters in question. What they don’t know is I definitely know who’s who amidst my toy clan. I just prefer to not play favorites.

But this whole trick misunderstanding is akin to something silly I heard my people say a while back. There’s no right time to have a baby, mom said. It doesn’t necessarily sound like a positive thing to say. Nor is it negative.

And, as I am in the habit of choosing optimism over pessimism, it got me to thinking about this idea of there being a “right” time to make a major life change. Like learning a new trick, regardless of your age. Or breaking a bad habit. Or starting a good one.

“Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go,” suggested American author and motivational speaker Nido Quebein, “they merely determine where you start.”

It doesn’t matter when you learn the new tricks, as long as you have an open mind. Because the “right” time is now.

 

Not-So Little Luxuries September 7, 2013

It’s kind of like counting sheep. It’s my understanding people do this sometimes to calm their minds into falling asleep. This would never calm a canine mind (for obvious reasons) but my method sure does bring me peace. I count my blessings.

The list includes the obvious characters who make up daily life (like mom and dad), as well as the less obvious things (like my special spot under my favorite tree in my backyard). Today I noticed something about the list I couldn’t keep from sharing: it never seems to get shorter. Instead, it seems only to grow to include more of the obvious (and not-so-obvious) luxuries in life.

I recognize this in itself is a blessing, and yet it got me to thinking. What would happen if something fell off the list? What if one of life’s not-so-little luxuries went away for some reason? Which could I not live without?

My constant flow of healthy food and water came to mind, followed closely by their (slightly less necessary) tasty counterparts peanut butter and bacon. And Mr. and Mrs. Prickles. Losing them would be a major problem. But I know my people would never let me go hungry. And (as much as I hate to admit it) Mr. and Mrs. Prickles are indeed replaceable (exhibits A and B: Flea and Angry Bird).  My Comfort Circle of Characters

It wasn’t until later in the day I realized what ties the list together. I tend to think through these things around the same times each day. Morning and evening. Both times have something very important in common. My bed. And I’m not talking about the dog bed in the kitchen. Nor do I understand the appeal of a dog bed (which comes home smelling like a factory) compared to a people bed (which contains all of the smells of our people us dogs long to be near at all times).

My SpotIt was not an easy battle to conquer either. I took mom down first with what I fondly refer to as “the look” combined with my persuasive cuddling skills. Getting dad to agree to the arrangement was a whole other game entirely. I had to be strategic about it. And patient. Until one night (after more than two years of effort on my part) “the look” and my cuddling skills struck again.

Since then I’ve secured my spot in the bed and I will not let it go for all the dog treats in the world. It’s ridiculously comfortable. It smells heavenly. And it’s where I count my blessings at morning and at night. But the more I think about it, I suppose even the bed itself is replaceable at least to a certain extent. Because (as much as it is indeed the coziest bit of people-smelling cloud a dog could ask for) it’s so much more than a bed.

As American screenwriter Francis Ford Coppola reminds us “I like simplicity; I don’t need luxury.” I suppose I don’t need luxury either. I just need my people. It’s that simple. So as I count my blessings tonight from my perch on the bed, I give thanks not for the comfy cloud itself. Rather I give thanks for its representation of the love I have for my people, and their love for me. Ultimately I think that is the luxury I truly could not live without.

 

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.