Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

In A Moment January 3, 2015

I woke up smiling today. I didn’t know why at first (as I sometimes don’t), but I encountered the reason as soon as I made my way outside to my backyard paradise for my early morning stroll. Snow. From the ground up, it has always been a favorite source of joy for me. I know some people (especially anyone who plows or shovels it, or tries to drive in it) don’t particularly care for the stuff. But I love it.

It’s so simple and understated as it falls silently from the sky, covering everything in a snow blanket of diamonds. Happy memories abound for me and especially my forever mom, who has on occasion been so excited to get outside and play in the snow with me that she has abandoned all common sense to do so. (Coats and boots? Who needs them?)

Family in the snow

Today was no exception to this, as we got our first significant snow that dear baby Carter could enjoy. It has been an unusually warm and dry winter in Wisconsin thus far, with hardly any snow to date. Though I’m sure the headaches involved with snow were not terribly missed, I could tell my forever mom was waited with baited breath for this day. This day when she could share her child-like appreciation of the simplicity that is snow with her son.

There was no forgetting boots and coats this time around either. Carter was so very bundled by the time we made it outside that I wasn’t sure he’d be able to move. True to form, he figured it out.

Really it’s no surprise I woke up with a smile today. Because in the matter of a few hours, there we were. Mom and dad and Carter and aunt Morgan and I, playing together in the snow like a bunch of ninnies. Dancing like no one was watching. There were snowballs. And giggles. And silliness. We played and they laughed and I couldn’t tell whether my tail wagging or their laughter came first. Joy. In a moment, there it is.

 

Along Memory Lane February 18, 2014

It doesn’t happen often. Usually it’s all blue skies and sunshine. Lately there’s even been a lot of playing with a slightly more grown up version of Carter. But every now and then I get a glimpse of the past in my doggie daydreams.

Today I was back on the streets with Tiger (the inappropriately named lab who I came to think of as family). It’s funny how having a little person of my own changes how I reflect on the time I spent helping him care for his puppies. This occurred to me as my daydream trip down memory lane took me to a fateful day. It was like I was there again. Sweet Dreams

It was Tiger and I against the world. Usually we stayed on our part of town but not that day. That day our search for food brought us into a territory better left alone. We were met there by a brutish pack of dogs just as fierce as rumor had it. Except for one thing. We had a lot at stake. We had three little puppy mouths to feed. And we were not going to negotiate with bullies.

That’s the thing about bullying. They stay in power as long as they are allowed to do so. Stand up to them, put them in their (not so powerful) place, and in a way you stand up for every other victim of their bullying. It’s not always easy, and might not always take on the first try, but persistence will pay off in one way or another.

If not for the bullies, for those who took a stand. It wasn’t easy to cross enemy lines that day, but I’m glad we did it. Sure, we got the food we sought. But we got more than that. We stood up to the bullies and (more importantly) we lived to tell the tale.

The past has a way of making its way into my present in the oddest ways sometimes. And today I’m so glad it did. Because every now and then we need reminders of where we came from to light the path to where we’re going.

 

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.

 

A Tail of Two Faces July 1, 2013

I’m not that big a fan of things that are two-faced in life.

Take my favorite red leash for example. When mom grabs it out I go absolutely crazy with excitement because I know it means I’m accompanying her somewhere. It doesn’t even matter where we’re going since I love our adventures so much. But there is a dark side to my precious red leash. Just as it signals the beginning of a journey, as it does also mark the journey’s end. It’s the worst when we’re leaving a family gathering or (worse yet) the dog park.

I think my mom is on to my evade-the-leash game, to the point where I don’t think she finds much humor in it anymore. Last week, she essentially chased me around the entirety of the park’s limits before I finally let her win. The same thing happened today, after I encountered another two-faced friend of mine.

Water. It’s refreshing, nourishing, and necessary to living. So you can’t blame me for finding my way back to the fabulous mud puddles I discovered recently and staging a wrestling match with Sage the lab mix. (Can you?) We chased and wrestled ourselves until we were both adequately exhausted. I don’t understand why Sage chose to leave the mud puddle, as I found it to be an incredibly cool and relaxing place to laze and appreciate the splendor of the park. I also don’t understand why my mom got so upset with me and scolded me until I left my own personal spa pool.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The water I love stabbed me in the back (literally) about an hour later when I got not one, but two separate baths. One without soap (which apparently proved insufficient) and one with soap. I hate baths. There’s nothing worse than the humiliation of the chilly water shrinking me to a third of my usual size, being rubbed down with perfumed shampoo and emerging covered in a scent that is nothing like my own natural smell when it’s all over. And I have to stay off the comfy furniture for what seems like forever afterward!

While my favorable opinion of both my favorite red leash and water remain unchanged by the events of the day, I definitely learned something from my experience with two-faced things in life. I don’t care for them. Fake is not a favorite people word of mine. Representing something is not the same as living it. Breathing it. Being it. It’s not worth it to mask who you really are because (spoiler alert) the world sees the truth. Hiding it from yourself doesn’t hide it from the world. Be honest with the world. Be honest with yourself. Be you.

 

Everybody Wins March 24, 2013

If attention-getting were an Olympic sport, I would compete for the gold medal. In literal terms, dogs aren’t that great at playing games. Don’t get me wrong, we love our catch, fetch and agility as much as the next species, but in my humble opinion most of us are too honest to be good at most games. We wear our hearts on our fur and couldn’t tell a lie to save our life. You can see it in our eyes. But emotionally speaking, dogs are exceptionally skillful attentioPlaying in the snown stealers.

While I don’t posses the skills required for most human games, I do have this attention-stealing game I like to play especially with dad, where I sit and stare at him, paw at him and jump at him until he pays me what I consider due attention. Sometimes I even throw a toy at him. I almost always win these battles of the mind, either with a dental bone, or a rawhide, or with my favorite treat: playtime. I bet he doesn’t even know I do it just as much for him as I do for me. You see, I would call myself an attention stealer without hesitation or embarrassment. And I have my reasons.

Today is a day for making your own sunshine. It feels like the millionth dreary Sunday in a row, and this time there’s snow falling in droves. It is also the fourth day of spring, but it feels like the 150th day of winter. The seemingly never-ending dreariness does take its toll on the spirit, so I can only imagine today is a dark day for some people. It’s all too easy to let these days consume us sometimes, but I refuse to let that happen in the Schmidt house. Instead I play one of my most favorite games to bring some sunshine into the lives of my people.

When my little game results in playtime, I have really won a small battle for all of us if you ask me. Dad throws a toy, I fetch it, he throws it again. Sometimes he even throws it back and forth with my mom and I am ultimately the pickle in the middle. And they both laugh. Regardless of what is on the television or what the weather is doing outside, they both laugh. Everybody wins. I’ve said before that joy is best when shared, well, this is one of my most favorite examples of that. DSC00229

“Dark days come to all of us,” Sarah Ban Breathnach writes in Simple Abundance. “Yet discouraging days bring with them golden opportunities when we can be kind to ourselves. Believe it or not, today offers you a hidden gift, if you’re willing to search for it.”

No need to search, because the gift of sunshine is never hidden in my house. After all, dogs are no good at playing games. We are no good at bluffing, scheming and plotting. No sir. Instead we specialize in honesty, loyalty and nonsense. And we have a sense for when our people are having a dark day. I would argue we can tell when something is awry better than people in some situations. Call me annoying or a pest or whatever word you may, but often when I seek attention my goal is to give it back rather than to receive it. Today is a day for making my own sunshine and I am most definitely up to the task.