Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

But Do Not Say May 15, 2014

There are things we think. These things are precious and special and private. Then there are things we say, either by word (in the case of my people) or by action (in the case of canines). These are things that cannot be taken back, no matter how badly we sometimes wish they could me.

I find this sometimes happens with my beloved mom and dad. Sometimes, whether in an argument with each other or others they say things they don’t mean in the heat of the moment and there is no turning back once they are said. Words are a powerful thing, a tool to which I frequently wish I had access. Days like today? Not so much.

Because today I finally spent some quality time with my dear new friend Joey. He’s adorable. He makes me feel young again. We play and wrestle and growl and paw at each other just like I’d hoped I would do with my dear aunt’s new dog once she found him. Boys will be boys, so we got a little rough with each other. Such is to be expected of us, after all. Dogs will be dogs.

2014-05-15 17.54.04At one point or another I got hurt in all of it. Again, it was one of those misunderstandings I have with my people sometimes. I was chewing on a rawhide bone for the first time in a while and my gums started bleeding. My dear aunt Morgan assumed it was because of something that happened between Joey and I. I knew better, and wished I could say so. In reality I knew it was because of me and my own silliness I was hurting. Such is life that I was silenced yet again.

Instead my people and Morgan got into a bit of a fit about it and it didn’t seem to end well. Morgan left with Joey and that was that.

But that’s just it. There are things we think. And there are things we say. Frequently I am pretty sure the things I think never make it to the realm of nonverbal communication with my people. Today they would have been in trouble because of the misunderstanding that happened. It was my own fault my teeth were hurting. Not Joey’s or anyone but me.

That didn’t stop them from worrying about it yet I was powerless to say anything to clear up the confusion. Because we never know when we won’t be able to speak. Or (worse) when the words we speak will not be heard. Such is yet another example of the importance of being what we cannot say on a daily basis. So today I re-commit myself to being the words I cannot say. Instead I live by doing.


The Secret Ingredient February 9, 2014

For some people, it’s a choice. For others, it’s as simple as a bloodline. And for me, it happened the day my forever mom and dad brought me into their home. Because they did more than that. They brought me into a family.

I was reminded of this over the weekend as both sides of my forever family joined together to celebrate my dad’s birthday. It was the first time the families have been all together since baby Carter was born and I was prepared for anything. Well, to be honest, I was prepared to step aside and let Carter steal the show. And he did.FamilyNo Secrets

But (to my surprise) I also earned my fair share of attention. I got pets and hugs and play time and treats and amidst it all I got the best thing of all. Love. From the ground up, I am blessed to be loved by such wonderful family members. It happened when I was playing what likely is my hundredth game of pickle in the middle with some of my favorite little people this afternoon.

I realized in those moments the answer to one of life’s most challenging questions. What is the secret ingredient in my recipe for joy? My family. It takes a village, as the proverb says, and I quite like mine. I had no idea that day I came home from the humane society just how blessed I would become.

Because that proverb is right – it does indeed take a village. We all need a good support system in place for those days when the ground shakes around us. For the times when we feel like its us against the world. And for the times we are overcome with joy and need to share it with someone special.

And that someone special may not always be a relative or family member. Sometimes the friends we make along the way become their own kind of family. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a few of those in my life as well.

So to those who say you can’t choose your family, I disagree. Because in my case, they chose me.


The Middle December 30, 2013

It all started with a fairly routine trip to Petco. I was there for a quick nail trim (in between visits to my regular groomer) and one would think I would have been sidetracked by all of the 50% off holiday toys and treats. No such thing. Instead I spotted them right away and I could tell exactly how they had spent their day.

It was a family of four, complete with a mom and a dad and their two little girls. With them stood a patient and surprisingly well-behaved terrier mix who (with a little help from mom) I later learned to be named Cooper. And the cart. From puppy training pads to Petco’s very best all-natural treats and dog food, it was loaded to the brim with everything a family taking in a new dog could possibly need.

Reflecting on lifeBut Cooper wasn’t just any new dog. He was a one-year-old rescue dog, his mom explained, and they had just adopted him for Christmas. The older of the two little people (who I would guess to be about five-years-old) was gripping Cooper’s leash like the lifeline I know it to be. When I saw the way her little hands proudly held that leash, it was like she was holding something in my heart. In that moment, I was overwhelmed with excitement and joy and happiness and the slightest bit of cautious anxiety for the journey on which this family was about to embark.

Under most circumstances, the anxiety is abnormal for me. At least in my world, a house is not a home without the special pet who (in his or her own unique way) somehow completes the picture. I think that’s why I felt a certain cautious emotion I recognized as anxiety.

Because I know one too many dogs who have recently left their forever homes for the Rainbow Bridge. Snuggledog was put down after he got so sick and the doggie doctors couldn’t figure out what to do to help him. He was three. A few days earlier Rusty took his 15 years of wisdom with him to doggie heaven. And then only a couple of nights ago, eight-year-old Raider got a little too interested in something in the road and was hit by a speeding car.

It starts and ends with my otherwise routine trip to Petco. Amidst so much loss, my encounter with Cooper and his new family struck such a tender chord in my heart. This week, as the family and friends of Snuggledog, Rusty and Raider pick up the broken pieces of their hearts, Cooper’s family becomes whole as he settles into his forever home. Life. From the ground up, each day is precious whether we are at the beginning or the end of our journey. Because ultimately it’s how we spend the middle that counts.

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Rescue Me November 17, 2013

I didn’t believe her at first. She was new and exciting and her past didn’t matter to me. What mattered was she was my new mom, my forever person, and I loved her from the start.

RescuedI loved her that first day she and dad came to visit me at the Oshkosh Humane Society. We shared a special moment when she knelt down to pet me and I did my best to grab on with my paw (as only us canines can do) to show her she was the one for me.  I was devastated when they left without me that day. The days that followed were some of my lowest of the low. A whole two weeks went by before I saw her again, and that’s when I knew it to be true. My forever person had found me. I was being rescued.

Recovery. Liberation. Deliverance. Rescue means different things to different people, all tied together by the common denominator of strong emotional responses. Joy. From the ground up, that’s what rescue means to me. So it never occurred to me that perhaps more than one heart was rescued that day. At least not until later, as I learned my adoption followed a string of unfortunate events in the lives of my forever people.

In May 2009, mom’s job at the local newspaper was eliminated along with the jobs of about half of the staff. Two weeks later, her dad died. It was sudden and terrible, and I won’t share all the details, other than that it came as a complete shock to her small immediate family. And alas, she had a new full-time job-helping her mom meet the attorneys, doing calculations with the CPA, and acting like the grown up who had it all together. In reality, she was the 24-year-old kid who found herself turning to the wrong ways of coping.

I’m no psychologist, but I would say she was still a little depressed when I met her a little more than a year later. And I immediately set about changing that in the only way I knew how. Loving. And, in doing so, I know I made her feel more alive. So ultimately I’m not sure who really rescued who. What I do know is I never would have thought more than one heart could be rescued in the same day. Yet I know it to be (at least partially) true. Mom didn’t just rescue me that day. I rescued her.

This post was inspired by Janine Allen’s “I Rescued a Human Today.”

Read it here: http://rescuemedog.org/dog-blog/i-rescued-a-human-today-by-janine-allen/


But Now I See November 9, 2013

It doesn’t happen often. But when it does I’m in trouble. Big trouble.

Today it happened for the purest of reasons. Mom opened the front door to greet my aunt Morgan and I ran. To greet her, not to run away. But it makes all of the people in my life so nervous when I get outside without my leash. I forget this when I get excited. I wish there was a way for me to tell them there’s no way I could do it. I’m not going anywhere, at least not on purpose. Everything along my path in life has led me here, to my forever home. I would never leave it behind. Another Purpose-Filled Day at the Office

So I don’t know how Elroy did it. From puppyhood until a few months ago, he lived with a friend of my mom’s named Melissa. She took care of him, trained him and (most importantly) she loved him. A lot. And she still does. But Elroy doesn’t live with her anymore.

Now he lives with a new person named Catalina. He was paired with her through the Leader Dogs for the Blind program, which provides guide dogs to people who are blind and visually impaired to enhance their mobility, independence and quality of life. Melissa (and her husband Daniel) were puppy raiser volunteers as part of this program. It was among the best – and hardest – things they’ve ever done.

I know Melissa and Daniel miss Elroy. And he misses them. But he has a new purpose now: to bring joy from the ground up to the life of Catalina. To be her eyes. And to nurture her heart. She was blind, but now she sees. Elroy is an inspiration.

Because I certainly couldn’t do it. Everything in my past has led me to this point, to my forever home, with my forever people. They are my purpose in life. Purpose is one of those powerful things that brings focus to even the cloudiest of situations.

“True happiness…is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose,” suggested American heroine Helen Keller. Melissa and Daniel did a truly selfless thing in raising Elroy. But they had purpose. As does Elroy. As do I. Before I met my people, I was blind. But now I see.

This post is dedicated to the wonderful program that is Leader Dogs for the Blind.

Photo courtesy of Leader Dogs for the Blind

Photo courtesy of Leader Dogs for the Blind

All of my best to Elroy, Melissa and Daniel, and Catalina.


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.



May The Force Be With You October 1, 2013

Some love it. Passionately. Others hate it. Fervently. Regardless of which side of the Star Wars opinion fence you fall on, I think we can all agree about one thing: the force? It’s pretty cool. Using your mind to control your surroundings? Believe me, in a dog’s life of silence that would be a game changer. Use The Force

I occasionally find myself wishing I could use the force for a variety of things. But no matter how hard I focus on that food on my mom’s plate, it does not make its way to my mouth as I will it to. The same can be said of doors. I frequently long to open doors with my mind. Most recently, I caught myself willing the car door to open and alas! It did! But it wasn’t my mind that did the opening – I looked up to discover it was my dad who opened the door so I could hop inside.

Since then, I’ve noticed he does this for my mom too, though I don’t understand why since she can do it herself. (I obviously don’t have this luxury). It wasn’t until yesterday when my dad’s friend Josh was visiting that I pieced together this mysterious puzzle. Mom, dad, and Josh were having a conversation in what will become the baby’s room. I was listening comfortably from the cozy new rug they put in there (which is my new favorite spot to think) when Josh said something that caught my attention.

He’s thinking of adopting a dog, and he’s looking specifically for a Beagle rescue. Apparently there aren’t very many nearby so he’s thinking of taking a day trip with his two-year-old nephew to one about two hours south of here in a place called Chicago. When mom mentioned it was cute he was thinking of bringing his nephew, I got my answer. “Well I want to make sure the puppy gets along with kids,” Josh replied.

Josh is currently single, but he is looking forward to meeting his future spouse and starting a family (I think people call it settling down, though I’m not quite sure what exactly they’re settling down from). Mom melted when he said this, and that’s when I realized something very important about the way “the force” can work in real life.

It’s no secret I’m a mama’s boy, so I’ve always been a proponent of treating a lady a certain way. It is probably no surprise that these feelings feed my belief that chivalry and romance are not dead. Little things (from opening a car door) to big things (like planning a future) all make a difference in both the development and maintenance of lasting relationships. It’s like the force of today. And even if you are not a fan of Yoda and his pals, you have to admit the force is a pretty neat idea. Idea it is. Reality it is not. Except when it’s used in ways I’ve come to understand as chivalry. And romance. Indeed there is a certain force a man can have, perhaps not with his mental will, but with his heart.