Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

The Possibilities of Existence March 12, 2015

It was exciting. And interesting. And a little terrifying. I was sure it wouldn’t last long. When you’re talking about the attention span of a toddler, nothing ever does. Yet as I took dear baby Carter on an exploration tour of my backyard paradise today, I could tell he was as into it as I was.

From our ground-up perspective, the gradual incline is like a mountain, the decline like a valley. There are trees and pinecones and a garden to explore. So that’s what we did. Together we walked all over the yard, and he talked his talk (in a language neither my forever parents nor I can translate) and I listened. He showed me pinecones that I pretended were a new toy. And I watched as he took it all in. Backyard Fun

It was his first time wandering the backyard on his own two feet, since there was already snow on the ground when he first started walking. And it was fun.

It reminded me of the dreams I had all those months ago of us running and playing together in that yard. There wasn’t much running (the grass is still pretty brown and muddy) and it’s still to early to expect him to understand the game of fetch, but we’ll get there.

Not only that, but as I watched him wander and touch and feel and babble to himself, I realized this is just the beginning. There is a very good reason toddlers don’t pay attention to one thing for very long. Everything is new. Everything is different. Everything is exciting.

Watching it all unfold filled my heart with joy for these reasons. Because yes, it was a little bit terrifying thinking of him falling or trying to eat something he shouldn’t. But it was also pretty neat to think of this as just the beginning.

“That is the exploration that awaits you!” the late, great Leonard Nimoy suggested. “Not mapping stars and studying nebula, but charting the unknown possibilities of existence.”

There is so much out there in the world for my dear baby Carter to see and touch and explore. Sure, there will be bumps and bruises along the way, but that is all part of the journey, all part of the existence, I’m so honored to bear witness to.

 

 

The Winter Doldrums Cure March 6, 2015

I know it happens in the winter months around here. It’s one of those things I have gotten used to, living where I do in the fine state of Wisconsin. And, as much as I might prefer to whine and moan about it, I know it’s for my own good.

From late October through some mysterious time in spring, I simply don’t spend much time outside. My time in my backyard paradise gets limited primarily to practical things, and my dear forever mom and I don’t walk the neighborhood much. If at all. Car rides are also limited. And the dog park? Forget about it. It’s a wasteland anyway, because a lot of other pet parents feel the same way about having their dogs out in negative-degree temperatures. Running Joy

So when mom said the magic words this morning, my heart about jumped out of my chest. (Especially because I also heard her say it was seven degrees outside a few minutes prior). Car ride. From the ground up, it is one of my favorite things to hear. Off we went, mom, dear baby Carter and I, on a car ride to the groomer.

It’s a place I like more than I think I should. I don’t necessarily like the grooming part, but the socialization is unparalleled. Today did not disappoint either, as I saw my pal Jack. He’s one of the dogs who hangs out there on a daily basis, so I’ve come to know him pretty well during my times there.

It turns out I didn’t know something pretty important about him. He too has been a big puppy brother to two little people who were not very far apart in age. And he survived. Well, more than that. He loved it. Sure, there was the tail and fur pulling phase. And the newborn screams that pierce straight through to one’s brain. But the playtime. He said that’s the best.

It was an interesting perspective to hear, especially since I’ve admittedly had my concerns about having another little person to look after. I already knew it would be okay, but it was refreshing to hear about it from someone who’s been there. Especially since he said one of the best things about having two little people around is that it makes these long, cooped up winters around here not feel as long.

Because let’s face it. It’s pretty terrible being trapped inside for so many months of the year. We usually don’t know how long it will be until it’s finally over. But the little people with all of their crazy ways have a way of keeping things busy in a way that truly warms my heart. That doesn’t mean I’m not sure as anxious for spring as everyone else around here. It just means I know I have something pretty special to tide me over until it arrives.

 

 

 

A Blessed Life September 19, 2014

It was the strangest thing. There I was, walking along a familiar street wearing my same collar with my tags that read Wiley C. Schmidt. I was wearing the same walking harness I’ve had since forever too. I had the same leash attached, and I was wandering around the same neighborhood I have come to know and love.

But when I looked up at my forever mom, she was brand new to me. Even though I obviously know everything a dog can know about his person, it was like I had never seen her before.

And that’s when I woke up.Listen to your heart

Sometimes my dreams scare me. I know that sometimes people perceive whimpering while sleeping as a doggie daydream of all kinds of goodness. For me, that is rarely the case. I think maybe it’s because of the grief I still bear in my heart over losing my mom and brothers at such a young age or the homeless loneliness that followed. Or the denial I have in my heart about being returned to the humane society or being abused by the man with the leather belt. These are the things that haunt me in my sleep. These are the things I whimper about.

That is, until today, when I had the oddest dream I’ve ever been able to recall. It was like everything was familiar but I was meeting my dear forever mom for the very first time. And I won’t lie. That isn’t the worst thing to dream about in comparison to the usual.

I remember the day often. It was hotter than normal in Wisconsin, but that didn’t stop my would-be forever family from visiting me that day. I also can’t believe that was more than four people years (or the equivalent of almost 30 doggie years) ago. But alas, it was, and it is a day for which I frequently feel blessed.

“Blessed is the influence of one true, loving human soul on another,” suggested English writer George Eliot.

It might have evolved out of the strangest thing, but Eliot’s words ring true for me. I’ve seen what joy looks like through the eyes of love. I’ve seen what it’s like to live my life. And I love every single moment. Because, in my humble doggie opinion, that is what it means to lead a blessed life.

 

Try Try Again October 30, 2013

I had it out with the neighbor dog today. Twice. That’s right – Demon Dog and I had words. Well, I’m sure it sounded like barks to the outside observer. But I could no longer sit idly by and stare at him silently while he goes into his fits of rage from the other side of the fence. I had to do something.

Better to TrySo I walked myself (all right, okay, I ran myself) to the very end of the lead (about 30 feet from my backdoor, and about 20 feet from Demon Dog) and I said some things that needed to be said. I told him I don’t know why he’s so angry. I told him I wished we could be friends. That I would listen to whatever struggles he’d lived through and help him find some joy in new beginnings.

But it ended just like it started, with him pacing and panting and growling and snarling. He even digs around a bit at the hole he’s created underneath the fence that separates us. And his bark? Quite frankly it’s terrifying.

I tried again the next time I was outside, but it seemed to be in vain. Also, my people were very unhappy with my efforts as it is incredibly rare for me to bark at anything besides the animals that occasionally come into the living room via the television.

I don’t understand it. We canines don’t discriminate from one breed to another, but I guess people call his a bully breed. And my experiences have shown me why – not only with my neighbor, but also with the dog who attacked me at the dog park. I thought I was a goner that day when he had me by my collar dangling me around from his perch atop that picnic table.

Obviously I survived to tell the tale, but it bothers me that these dogs – these bullies – are out there making a bad name for others of their breed who are capable of love and compassion. Being known as a bully is not an excuse for bad behavior any more than it should be a label on others with a similar appearance.

So I won’t give up on Demon Dog. I had it out with him today and my message didn’t take. And I know I need to be honest with myself – it may never take. But as American actress Shay Mitchell put it “I realized that bullying never has to do with you. It’s the bully who’s insecure.”

He’s strong and confident (at least from what I can tell by his barking habits), but there must be something more there. A past. Some memories. A story that may explain where he came from and why he is the way he is. We all do. And in a world that frequently uses labels as excuses, I’m taking a stand for new beginnings. It’s better to try and fail than to never have tried at all.