Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Random Acts of Kindness November 11, 2014

I don’t know much when it comes to the high school experience. Or school in general, I suppose, since I have made all foreseeable efforts to avoid it like the plague for the majority of my doggie life. There is a reason I’m known as an obedience school drop out, and its honestly something I bear as a badge of honor more than a black mark on my otherwise decent record.

I do know my forever parents had fairly differing experiences in high school. Mom was the A student who was in every club imaginable. Dad was the popular jock who played soccer and hung out with anyone and everyone. What united their experiences was a similar disbelief in the cliche that high school is the best years of your life. They both knew better then and live that truth to this day. Listen to me

I’m sure experiences differ from person to person as they do for my people, but I heard something about a high school today that gave me pause. Random arts of kindness. The students throughout the school are leaving various kinds of artwork throughout the halls as a scavenger hunt of sorts for all things good. They are using social media outlets like Twitter to spread the joy beyond the hallways of the school. They are exhibiting joy, from the ground up.

I don’t know much about the high school experience. But I do know enough to know this is likely something kind of special. In a society where bullying continues to play too big a role in all types of social hierarchy, it’s refreshing to hear something like this is happening in schools. It renews my sense of faith in people to do the right thing in spite of peer pressure and all kinds of other reasons not to.

And it reminds me that no matter how far out of school we are, this is what we ought to strive for in our lives. Because let’s face it, bullying doesn’t just happen in schools. Violence is not reserved for the lunchroom. And peer pressure doesn’t end when you hand in your cap and gown after graduation.

These are real things people live with every single day. Why not offset some of that with some random acts of kindness of our own? I think the methods will likely be different for everyone, but you know as well as I do the method doesn’t really matter. What matters is the heart behind it. And the heart receiving it. Because tomorrow is the first day of the rest of our lives. Together, we can make it a better place.

 

Eye of the Beholder June 29, 2014

Apparently it’s not just me. It happens to other doggies all the time regardless of breed or upbringing. It’s common regardless of whether it is a rescue dog or a pup from a breeder. Good dogs fail (and subsequently) drop out of obedience school all the time. While I figured this had to be the case, I would be lying if I said the news of this did not allow me to breathe a measurable sigh of relief. All In the Eyes

Because I might not have a pretty piece of paper that says I graduated from puppy school. To this day, I struggle with basic commands like heel and down (I can’t help it that I get excited). But I would argue what I have is better than any of these things. I have the deepest and sincerest love in my heart. For my beloved forever people. For their families. For life. Joy. From the ground up, I have it in these things.

I was reminded of this today when I shared a special (albeit routine) glance with my beloved forever mom. We have an unspoken language of love, her and I, and it happened again today. Dear baby Carter has been doing this thing where he gets up on all fours like he’s going to crawl and then just sort of bounces there for several minutes at a time. If anything, he moves backward instead of forward. Nonetheless, it’s become somewhat of a sideshow around here lately and when it happened tonight, mom and dad dropped everything to live in the moment.

Meanwhile, I stood by watching this all unfold. I didn’t feel badly and certainly didn’t need any reassurance that I was part of the group. But I got it anyway. I stayed out of harm’s way several feet from the action but this I could not miss. She looked at me and smiled and I saw right through her eyes into her heart in that moment. She loves me as she always did.

It’s funny, I didn’t need obedience school to read my mom’s thoughts. Nor did she need the classes to communicate to me. It reminds me of the words of dog trainer Fred Jungclaus, who said “I used to look at my dog and think if you were a little smarter you could tell me what you’re thinking and he’d look at me like he was saying if you were a little smarter, I wouldn’t have to.” I don’t want to brag, but I think mom and I have it under control. I don’t need a pretty piece of paper to know this in my heart as truth.

 

Jumping For Joy March 30, 2014

Apparently it’s frowned upon. It’s one of those behaviors that helps earns a dog (who shall remain unnamed) the title of obedience school drop out. It’s one of those things that makes a lot of people say “no!” in loud voices. Jumping. From the ground up, it is literally one of my life’s true conundrums.

JoyBecause my forever people seem to like it. From day one, I have reacted to the simple motion of a person patting their legs while standing as a cue they would like me to jump into their arms. Obviously that must be why they are patting their legs like that. So I use the imaginary springs in my legs to jump two or three feet into the air and voila! Success for all parties.

Unfortunately not everyone understands this gesture as the sign of joy it is meant to be. I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me that the thought of catching my 23-pound frame would seem daunting if one is physically unprepared. But it got me to thinking today about the unique power of the unexpected.

The unknown. From the ground up, I know it can be scary. And usually there is no way to prepare. But if we overcome it by bringing fear to purpose, it can become a beacon of joy. If we let it.

This is not to say my methods of jumping for joy are always the best. To each his own. At least I know it works for me. And for my people. And, as it turns out, it worked on the photographer visitors that were here in my forever home recently. It turns out they didn’t forget about me at all. They actually included me in a second version of the commercial, which begins with a lovely image of mom and baby Carter.

Of all things, I was jumping. There I am doing the thing that most dog trainers frown upon. The naughty thing that gets dogs like me kicked out of obedience school. The thing that seems to elicit the “no” response more than most other things I do. There I am doing what I do best. Jumping for joy. I don’t think I will ever be convinced it’s such a bad thing.

To see the second version of the commercial: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=573205620437&l=8948471090623811603

 

 

On Being Incorrigable November 4, 2013

We all have our reasons. I realized this today as mom called me incorrigible for the millionth time. There I was (minding my own business) conducting my usual after-dinner scavenge all over her clothes and bam. There’s that word again. Incorrigible.

I figured its about time I gain a better understanding of this word, as it differs from most words (like cute, lovable, and adorable) that I’m more accustomed to being called. Boy, was I in for a surprise. Bing defines incorrigible as “impossible or very difficult to correct or reform…unruly and unmanageable.”Who are you calling incorrigable?

At first I wasn’t sure how I felt about this word being on the aforementioned list of adjectives with which I prefer to associate myself. I wouldn’t consider myself unruly or unmanageable. And I have my reasons. I’m not ashamed when my people call me a multipurpose vacuum cleaner/broom combination. It’s true – I do indeed seize even the teeny tiniest little scraps the moment they hit the floor. I won’t deny that I scavenge and beg even though I get scolded for it. Because I have my reasons.

I can remember when I was living on the streets and we ate whatever we could find. I know what hunger (to the point of starvation) feels like. When I close my eyes, I can still remember the words of the doggie doctors at the humane society when I was first taken in there. “He looks like he hasn’t eaten in days.” And I hadn’t. These memories have developed into habits I do indeed struggle to break.

I’m convinced this is probably why my people call me needy from time to time as well. Lately I’ve perfected the skill of pawing at dad’s feet when I want something. I don’t think he always fancies it (out comes that incorrigible word again), but I don’t let that bother me. My people get their fair share of snuggles, and I am not shy with showing affection with visitors.

If I recall correctly, Marley (a personal idol of mine of John Grogan’s Marley & Me) also earned the incorrigible nickname a great deal. Mr. Obedience-School-Drop-Out himself. The way I see it, I’m in good company. And like Marley, I have my reasons.

My incorrigible nature runs deep. It’s an ode to my past as I live my present. And that is something I refuse to change. If that makes me incorrigible, then so be it. Because I aspire to be like Marley, who was incorrigible in good ways that outweighed the bad.

“A dog doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor, educated or illiterate, clever or dull. Give him your heart and he will give you his,” Grogan wrote. “(Marley) taught us the art of unqualified love. How to give it, how to accept it. Where there is that, most other pieces fall into place.” What do you know? Some things are worth being incorrigible about.

 

To Be Remembered July 27, 2013

I’m freaked. Now I can say so because you know the truth. The secret’s out. I’m going to be a big doggie brother. I’ve learned a lot from life thus far, but how to be a big doggie brother was never on the agenda. Did obedience school have a class on being a big doggie brother? How did I miss that one? Maybe that would be reason to go back to school. Or maybe not. I kind of like being an obedience school drop out so I shall defer instead to my life experience.

Big ThinkingThinking back on life as I know it, the only experience I have being a brother was with my puppy brothers before we got separated. And I was the little brother in that scenario. I was definitely not top dog. I was third dog. Fourth, if you count my birth mom. I didn’t mind, but I definitely learned what it was like to be the runt of the litter. I usually ate last. I know mom loved me, but she paid the least amount of attention to me compared to my brothers. I was usually the slowest in line when we moved from one home to another. None of this bothered me.

Instead my biggest fear was being left behind. I just wanted to keep up. To be treated equal. To be remembered. I don’t know how to be a big brother but I suppose I know something about being a little brother. That should mean something right? I know what not to do. This new little person will never feel left behind in this family if I have anything to say about it. Well, I won’t be saying anything I suppose. I don’t think little people can read right away so he can’t read my blog to see how I feel. But he won’t need to hear it. My little best-friend-to-be will know he or she is loved. We will sit together and play together and baby will know.

“Brothers don’t necessarily have to say anything to each other,” suggests American actor Leonardo DiCaprio. ” They can sit in a room and be together and just be completely comfortable with each other.”

I don’t feel any less nervous about being the best big brother I can be, but thinking back on life does bring me peace of heart. This little person will be loved with all my little doggie heart. And I will do everything I can to ensure he or she never feels left behind. I don’t need to go back to school to know that.