Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Proud of ‘Ya January 26, 2015

I never met the man, but from what I hear he was pretty special. He was smart. He was stubborn (in good ways as much as bad). And he was a good dad to my dear forever mom. He left for heaven a few years ago, which was far too soon in the opinion of those who knew and loved him. Be What You Believe

But like most of those beloved friends and family members looking down on us from heaven, he makes his appearances from time to time. Today it happened when my mom reminisced with dad over dinner about something her father used to say. Dad told mom he was proud of her for her recent blogging efforts.

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this, but she’s a writer too. And recently she’s just started writing posts for an exciting new web site called LadiesLife.com. After less than a week, the posts she’s written are doing incredibly well, which has been a source of celebration around my forever home.

“Proud of ya,” her father used to say, in a teasing and slightly-deeper-than-usual voice. It was kind of an inside joke for her and her family growing up, one she shared with dad tonight. I’m not sure how, but it was like he read my mind when as he responded to her, saying exactly what I wished I could say.

“You know he’d be so proud of you, right?” he said. “And not just for your writing, but for being such a great mom.”

I knew tears would likely come next, but I also knew they weren’t the bad kind.

I never met the man, but from what I hear he was pretty special. He was smart. He was stubborn (in good ways as much as bad). And he was a good dad to my dear forever mom. I know she misses him sometimes more than others. I also know tonight was one of those times. But I also know what my forever dad said was true. Her father would be so proud of her. And, when it comes to missing someone, knowing that means an awful lot.

Check out the LadiesLife.com posts here:

http://ladieslife.com/7-things-no-one-told-you-about-being-pregnant/

http://ladieslife.com/think-youre-ready-bring-baby-home/

 

Mind Over Matter January 14, 2014

We thought we were so smart. Reading all those books, blogs and message boards. Doing all that research. Getting the nursery ready. Well, mom did at least. I knew better. I knew that baby Carter would write his own book. And he has not disappointed.

Me and My BuddyHis nights and days are flip flopped. Sometimes he cries when there is nothing to cry about. And then he smiles in his sleep about who knows what. I’ll be honest. I know nothing about babies. Absolutely nothing, other than what I’ve heard my forever mom and dad discuss between themselves, and the odds and ends advice they’ve gotten from the visitors in the last couple of weeks.

But I do know this. From what I can tell, my dear little person is every bit of the blessing I knew he would be. He is strong. He is healthy. He sleeps enough. Mom and dad love him. He’s pretty darned great. And I’m proud of him. I’m proud to call him my puppy brother.

I was thinking about this today as we had more visitors who had all kinds of advice for mom. I watched as she soaked it in. I saw the determination in her eyes as she even put a couple of the tips into action at bedtime tonight. She wants so badly to do everything right.

And I want so badly to tell her she can’t. She will mess up. I know because she made her fair share of mistakes with me (don’t tell her I told you). But look at me. I turned out all right. And Carter will too.

As British politician Sir Winston Churchill suggested “success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” It doesn’t matter what all those books, blogs and message boards say. Mom won’t do everything right. But she has courage. That’s what matters to me.

 

Forever Starts Now November 26, 2013

It was no louder than a quiet whisper. And it’s impossible to explain what exactly it sounded like. I might have even imagined it. At least that’s what my head says. My heart, on the other hand, believes it to be true. I think I heard the baby today.

There we were, my forever mom and I, on the couch together. I was being what she fondly refers to as a snuggle bug when it happened. I don’t know if it was the heartbeat or a cry or what exactly I was hearing. But it was foreign to me and it was definitely coming from mom’s tummy. So I told my mind to shut up and let my heart do the thinking in that moment. It was the baby. My little person. Communicating. With me.

 All I could do was listen.Hi Baby

It came at just the right time, too. A friend of mom’s visited us today and said something that had been bothering me. “Just wait, little buddy, soon enough it’s not going to be about you anymore.” It’s not going to be about me? Well that simply won’t do. I felt my heart giving way to that all-too-familiar fear that I indeed will be replaced in the hearts of my people by this little person. That I won’t matter anymore.

Then it happened. I heard that little person and I knew mom’s friend had been right. It’s not going to be about me anymore. It’s going to be about us. Our family. I can handle that. And how blessed I am to start that relationship off on the right paw as early as this! Mom will be 33 weeks pregnant this week, and so far the only way she and dad have been able to hear the baby is through some sort of special machine they have at that doctor place.

It was pretty quiet and muffled and I honestly might have imagined it all. But us canines can hear in the ultrasound range (as much as three times better than humans). And I realized as I listened to whatever it was I was hearing just how blessed I am. I’ve said before how badly I want to be this little person’s best friend forever. The baby may not be here yet, but something certainly is. Friendship. Forever starts now.

 

Just One Thing November 22, 2013

Two years and three months. That’s how many people years I lived before I met my forever family. I had my time (albeit brief) with my birth mom and brothers. Then there was Tiger – the single doggie dad – and his puppies, who I lived with on the streets for a while. Next came Jo and the man with the leather belt. And finally the first family who adopted me but never loved me as one of their own.

Happiness Is...Looking back on all the homes I’ve had sometimes makes me wonder what life had been like if I had been one of those fancy breeder puppies that cost all kinds of money. Even my forever people first considered purebred West Highland or Norfolk terriers before deciding to adopt a rescue dog. So what would have happened if they had found me in puppyhood? How would life have been different? Would I be different?

I may not be able to travel through time and space to make such a thing a reality, but I can imagine it. And I’m not going to lie – it looks pretty swell. I picture dad picking me out from the litter and tying a big red ribbon around my neck. At eight weeks old, I could have been mom’s birthday present for her 23rd birthday.

I would never have known the pain of losing my birth mom and brothers the way I did. I would never have seen so many things I wish I could un-see while I lived with Jo and the man with the leather belt. I wouldn’t know the rejection that accompanies being returned to the humane society. Sometimes you don’t even know you were lost until you are found.

But that time was not devoid of family. Quite the opposite in fact. I wouldn’t trade the time I had with my birth mom and brothers. She was home to me. I wouldn’t know the sincere compassion I learned from the time I spent helping Tiger support his family. I wouldn’t have the overwhelming desire to protect those I love without time with my beloved Jo.

Three years and two months. That’s how long I’ve lived with my forever family. Though there are a fair share of ups and downs here just as there is anywhere, joy has overwhelmed my time here. But I realized something today. If I could change just one thing I wouldn’t. Each of those pieces comes together into who I am. Past, present and future.

 

Great Expectations November 3, 2013

I’m not sure what I expected. We are a little more than seven months into this journey of life change (otherwise known as pregnancy) and I’ve noticed some patterns.

Feeling the LoveAlmost every time mom comes home from wherever those errand places are, she has some baby things. Diapers or wipes or onesies or sleepers. It’s like an addiction. I hear it’s called nesting and it’s normal. Meanwhile I find myself wondering whether mom realizes she will indeed still be able to leave the house after the baby is born. It’s not like the birth of my little person is the baby apocalypse.

Then there is dad. He is nesting in his own unique way. Projects. It’s become a weekly thing around here. One after the next after the next. It started with the wood trim, which he insisted would look better white. So he made it happen. Then came the kitchen table switcheroo – the nine-piece table formerly in our kitchen has been resigned to storage and replaced with a smaller five-piece version that dad has overhauled. What was once an outdated table now looks like something you’d see on one of those shows on HGTV, complete with bright colors and trendy new fabric seats.

It happened again today. Mom went grocery shopping and came back with an extra bag of baby goodies. And dad finished painting the trim in the bedroom. So I did what any dog would do. I slept the day away.

But I can’t stop thinking about these patterns. Especially dad’s since mom has basically been wearing her (pregnancy hormone driven) emotions on her sleeve. Dad holds such things a lot closer to the vest. I thought this might change or develop somehow during the pregnancy process, but it seems I was wrong.

Frankly, I think he’s freaked. And these projects are his way of focusing at least some of that nervous energy on forward progress. I wouldn’t say that’s a bad thing, since most of what he’s working on he’s been talking about since I first came into my forever home. There’s no time like the present, as they say.

I don’t know what I expected but I do know one thing for sure. He shouldn’t be nervous. American writer Clarence Budington Kelland said it best. “He didn’t tell me how to live,” as American writer Clarence Budington Kelland said, “he lived, and let me watch him do it.” I’ve seen him with the nieces and nephews (otherwise known as my favorite little people). I’ve watched him take care of mom after her knee surgery. And I’ve lived it. Firsthand.

Sure, he was a little hesitant to let me into his heart (similar to him being nervous about having a baby in the house). But he’s a great dad. I couldn’t ask for someone more caring and fun and loving (even though he still won’t admit he loves me). He lives, and I am a better doggie because I watch him do it.

 

A Little Touch October 22, 2013

It doesn’t take much. A pat on the head. A scratch behind the ear by the collar. An extra treat (or three). I really am a fool for the little things in life. Especially where love is concerned.

But I can’t say it’s been an easy lesson for me to learn. When I was a puppy, I learned the “how high” way of life. I jumped higher, ran faster, and dreamed bigger than any other dog I knew. It was a point of pride even, that I always had a fire lit inside me to be better. And I’m not saying that is a bad thing.How High?

To this day I startle people with how high I can jump. I can launch myself straight up into the air three or four feet. I even have this trick I learned to do with my mom where she pats her thighs and says “up” and I jump securely into her arms. These things bring me great joy that I can’t help but share with others. But bigger isn’t always better. Not everyone likes to be welcomed into my forever home with me jumping into their arms. And I’m okay with that.

I realized this tonight in the midst of a special moment I shared with mom. It was nothing new for the two of us – she was scratching behind my ear by my collar (an especially itchy spot of mine) and I did it. I wrapped my paw around her hand while she scratched. I do it all the time, but tonight it seemed to strike an emotional chord with her I haven’t noticed before. She seemed touched by my touch. It seems like such a little insignificant way to show I appreciate her scratches, yet it meant a lot to her. Certainly it meant more to her than how high I can jump on the visitors to my forever home.

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things,” suggested American thinker Robert Brault. It sounds so simple, but it doesn’t take much. To show someone you care. To make someone smile. To be an ambassador for joy. I don’t need to jump five feet in the air to show how enthusiastic I am to welcome a visitor to our home. That’s not what joy from the ground up is all about. It’s about the simple little things, like the moments I shared with mom today. And a couple extra treats every now and then don’t hurt either.

 

Worth The Wait September 28, 2013

I’m definitely with mom on this one. Pregnancy math sucks. Leave it to people to make something so simple into something so complicated.

The way I understand it, science dictates the pregnancy actually starts two weeks prior to conception and runs for forty weeks. So you get a two-week head start but (this is where I get confused) because of it you’re actually pregnant for 10 months instead of the nine months with which every woman is familiar? That seems cruel enough on its own.My Lamp Is Lit

Add to it the way us canines process time and it makes sense to me why dogs only carry puppies for a little more than two months. But (as I understand this is something I most definitely cannot control) I begrudgingly digress.

Instead I focus on the real problem at hand. I simply cannot wait a moment longer to meet my little person. I have big ideas. Grand plans. Games I’ve developed in my head. None of which I can put into action until I meet the new addition to the family. We’re going to play chase around the house, and share food, and (obviously) become best friends.

Yet (at least from what I’m hearing around here) mom has 16 weeks to go. 16 weeks! That feels like a lifetime. But as I am in the habit of finding a silver lining I realized something today – it’s not a lifetime I intend to waste. Instead I shall continue scheming and dreaming.

The idea came to me today as I was feeling especially philosophical in the backyard. It was a beautiful fall day in Wisconsin and (as I rested my eyes) while lazing in the grass, my thoughts turned to the future. The backyard has this funny impact on me on days like today – like all of the stars align and it can somehow transport me through time. Or maybe I’m just crazy.

Nonetheless, my images of the future were all happy ones. My little person and I are playing together in the grass. There is giggling and wagging. There is nonsense conversation (as the little person is no more than two years old). There is friendship and love. There is joy from the ground up.

Frustrating as pregnancy math may be, it reminds me a bit of the words of Christian author Tertullian who once said “hope is patience with the lamp lit.” I certainly can’t wait for three years from now when all of these dreams come alive. Heck, I can barely wait three (or is it four?) more months to meet the little one. But my lamp is definitely lit. Hope is in my heart. These dreams will come alive. I know they will. We will be best friends. And it will be worth the wait.

 

On Neighborly Physics September 9, 2013

We all have at least one in our lives. One character we wish we had never met. One friend gone bad. One neighbor we can’t stand.

For me, it’s Demon Dog in the backyard behind mine. He scares me, irritates my people, and I fear for the threat he could be to the safety of my future little person.

For my newest dog park pal Tucker, it’s the neighbor man who lives next door to his forever home. He sounds like an angry person always carries a strong chemical smell I’ve come to recognize as alcohol on his breath. I didn’t say anything, but (at least from what I hear) he sounds like the man with the leather belt I once knew. I shudder to think of Tucker being exposed to such things. And Tucker shudders to think of the influence this man could have on the little people he oversees.

Since being at my forever home, I don’t think I’ve come across too many proverbial bad seeds. But I’m also not sure what the best course of action is when we cross paths with these sorts of characters on our journey through life. Every situation is different, but I think what brings each one together is a commonality of understanding. Ultimately we all have at least one of these people in our lives.Love thy neighbor

But how lucky we are to have this be the exception rather than the rule. I was reminded of this recently when I finally got to offer my condolences (in the form of some kisses and cuddles) to the next-door neighbor whose husband went to heaven a couple months ago. I can tell she is still very sad, but I think my love helped (at least a little) to bring a little sunshine into her day.

Mom talked to her too, about how she’s doing and life in general. Mom told Mary (that’s her name) about the baby and how she’s been struggling to stay active during pregnancy. What happened next surprised us both. Mary said my mom is welcome to use her pool as often as she’d like, at least until she drains and covers it for the winter.

It might sound like a small thing, but to my mom it was a pretty big deal. Ever since her knee surgery last November she’s wanted to get back into swimming. But something (I think it was fear) was holding her back. She used to swim competitively (a concept I’ll never understand – why would you intentionally spend all that time in the water?) and was afraid of how out of shape she’d be when she picked it up again. It turns out it wasn’t that bad at all, and she’s been going swimming a few times a week ever since.

We all have a few of them in our lives. A character we are so glad we met. A friend who will do anything for us. A neighbor who makes a difference. With all this good in our lives, what power is there in the bad? It reminds me of the scientific belief of English physicist Sir Isaac Newton. “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction,” he theorized.

I think there’s all kinds of ways we can choose to approach the negative people in our lives. I avoid Demon Dog at all costs. And I know Tucker will do whatever he can to protect his little people from the awful neighbor man. But all this thinking about neighbors served as a reminder that the negative influences are the exception not the rule. If anything, they make us appreciate the positive people in our lives that much more.

 

The Day Forever Changed September 1, 2013

My birth mother never cared much for cars. Or people for that matter. Put the two together into a moving vehicle? She usually kept her distance. Except for that day. The day that changed my life forever. The day we all got separated.

It started like any other day in my early puppyhood. We woke to mom going hunting for food, so my brothers and I wrestled until she returned. We feasted on a gourmet selection of leftovers she scavenged from behind a nearby diner. Discarded toast crusts were my favorite since my brothers usually stolGaining Perspectivee the ham and sausage scraps before I could get to them.

After breakfast, we would journey outside our cardboard shelter. I know mom’s intention was to keep an eye out for someplace better for us to move to even though I quite fancied our cozy hideaway. She always wanted the best for us though, and I will never forget that.

I don’t know what go into her that day, but she seemed edgy. Skiddish. Scattered. Her usual fear of cars and people was thrown to the wind as we paraded through the streets. My brothers and I followed (somewhat) blindly, trusting she knew what she was doing.

That’s when it happened. There we were in the middle of the road when not just one but two cars were coming at us full speed ahead. From both directions. My heart raced almost as fast as I did away from the imminent danger. I assume my mom and brothers did the same, though I will never know for sure. I ran as fast as my puppy legs would take me until I made it back to the cardboard box we called home. I waited there, knowing certainly that’s where we would all meet up. I waited a day. Every moment that ticked by felt like hours. I waited a week. Nothing.

I was devastated. The events of the day haunted my every thought as I wondered how I could somehow relive those moments. How I could make it right. I should have looked back, I thought. I should have waited for my brothers. I should have stopped running sooner so I could have seen where they went. All of these should haves, could haves, would haves still occasionally pop into my mind.

But how would life be different had I done “right” that day? Would I still be with my mom and brothers somewhere? Perhaps. But then I would never have met Tiger and his puppies. I wouldn’t have gotten to protect Jo from the man with the leather belt. I wouldn’t have learned optimism as a way of life from Rusty at the Oshkosh Humane Society. I wouldn’t have found my forever home.

All of this makes me wonder whether there really is a “right” way in life. Moreover, I wonder whether what we sometimes think is right actually is what’s best for us on our path. I may be an optimist, but I can’t say whether there really is a way to get life right. I know my mom’s way involved keeping her distance from cars and people. But that isn’t the right way for everyone. It certainly isn’t for me.

The day I was separated from my birth family was one I will always remember. That day I learned a very important life lesson that forever can change in a moment. Sometimes you can make it right. Sometimes you can’t. The thing is we also don’t always understand what’s best for us in these moments. We can’t always see the big picture through the cloudy lenses of now. But that’s why they say hindsight is 20/20. In reality there is nothing I would change about that day because it led me to where I am today. And I wouldn’t change that for all of the dog treats in the world.

 

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.