Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Living the Dream June 9, 2013

When I was a puppy, I longed to be “normal.” I had this image of what my life should look like and it was so different than what it was. I don’t mean to say I wasn’t happy as I’d ever dreamed to be with my mom and brothers. Living on the streets taught me so many valuable lessons about the meaning of family and the importance of finding joy in the little things. But I could tell right away that I was different from my puppy brothers.

While we shared a scavenger’s sense of survival, my brothers looked a little different than me. (More like their dad, I gathered, since I was almost a spitting image of my mom). I even remember feeling kind of left out around them, like the odd puppy out. It’s me, I thought, I’m not like the others.

Living the DreamIt surprised me when I felt the same way after getting separated from my mom and brothers. I was still just a pup, and I would have thought being out on my own would make me feel adult. Instead I was scared, alone, and again longing for normalcy without even really knowing exactly what it looked like.

All-the-while I felt like something about me was holding me back somehow, especially when I was at the humane society. I know I didn’t think like other dogs, and I certainly didn’t look like them. The majority of visitors overlooked me for puppies, and those who did visit me often mistook me for either a puppy or a girl.

I would have found this all incredibly discouraging if not for my innate desire to find the good to be grateful for each day. And on days when I couldn’t think of anything, I gave thanks for my hope for normalcy. I knew there was something better, something normal, in my future.

But there is this something abnormal about normalcy. I think it’s kind of like how people in my country have this concept of an “American Dream.” It’s all relative. Perhaps the bigger we dream, the more this comes into focus. What is normal anyway? The more my adult mind analyzes the concept, the more I realize the negative connotations of the word. Normal has a boring ring to it, and almost sounds like something below average. Instead I find myself gravitating to the abnormal, which (to me) is more exciting.

Sure, when I was a puppy “normal” seemed like the only way to go. Throughout my life I faced challenges on my path to normalcy that made me who I am today. But today I no longer wish to be normal. Instead I accept that my place in life is among the extraordinarily abnormal. It always has been and always will be. That, my friends, is my American Dream coming to life.

 

Young at Heart February 9, 2013

Every now and then I will be at the dog park or on a walk through the neighborhood and I hear it. Four seemingly unimportant people words strung together in a beautiful sentence that makes my heart smile. “What a cute puppy!” It goes the same way every time: mom corrects the person by telling him or her that I’m actually full grown and I wag my tail incessantly until the person kneels down to pet me. The truth is, I love the attention almost as much as the compliment. I may be a mutt to some people, but what is in a name?

You see, there is something about us canines you need to know. From Pomeranian to Great Dane, that playful puppy we once were is always a part of us. Puppyhood wasn’t always easy for my two brothers and I, but my birth mom always had a way of making even the littlest events seem special. I remember our one-month birthday like it was yesterday.

A dog's tail never lies

My birth mom had made a pretty nice home for us with decent shelter from the elements and I was so worried because she was gone for a really long time that day. Boy, did she have a surprise for us when she got home! She had spent the day relentlessly scavenging through garbage can after garbage can to find us the perfect dinner, and she did not disappoint. She finally returned to us (after finding what I can only assume must have been the garbage can of a very upscale restaurant) holding in her mouth the most beautiful steak we had ever seen. Sure, it was not that great for our puppy diets eating whole food like that, but it made us all feel special sharing such decadence.

I look back on that night often, as it wasn’t long after that when we all got separated and I found myself longing for family. Longing for home. It would be another two people years before my people brought me into my forever home, and it may as well have been a lifetime. But my puppy-like state of mind helped carry me through the hardest of times. Life through a puppy’s eyes is scary, but I prefer to see it as exciting. Everything looks and smells new, and the world is such a big place yet to be explored. When you’re a puppy, you spend your time primarily playing, eating and sleeping. What could be better than that?Playing "dead"

I can’t say I completely agree with Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, who claimed “youth is wasted on the young.” No sir. I’m much more in line with former American president Theodore Roosevelt. “Old age is like everything else,” Roosevelt said. “To make a success of it, you’ve got to start young.”

That’s why I feel such a sense of joy when people mistake me for a puppy. The best thing about childhood is making the early decision to never grow up.