Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

A Dog’s Tale May 6, 2013

I hold my breath when Aaron Rodgers throws a football down the field because I want to be sure someone catches it. I bark at the bass that Babe Winkelman and Bill Dance reel in on the moving picture window in the living room. I physically recoil when my dad takes off his leather belt or swings a baseball bat. Oh, and some of you already know this, but I have a habit of rolling myself all over clothes (clean or dirty) left anywhere within my reach.

Comedic or otherwise, there you have it. These are some of the private (but honest) truths of my life. I think a lot of people think us canines must be the best secret keepers because of the stories we are entrusted with, but I’ve got another honest truth to share with you. Dogs don’t really keep secrets. We wear our emotions on our tail. You can see it in our eyes. That’s the thing about unconditional love – it speaks a universal language directly from our hearts to yours.

That’s one of a few reasons why the cThis Face Doesn't Lieonfusion my parents have had about the main bathroom in my forever home is completely baffling to me. When they brought me here, the walls were blue. Now they are white. It sounds simple enough, but this is not a change that came easily.

Some turn to television for entertainment, but I need not look further than my forever family. The bathroom “conversation” happened about a year ago but I remember it like it was yesterday. Mom and dad were talking about making changes around the house, and mom mentioned changing the color of the walls in the main bathroom. Dad questioned this, as it was their joint decision to choose the light blue color that used to adorn the walls. Mom insisted that perhaps they made the decision in haste and indeed a lighter color might be a better fit in the small room. Dad agreed. And that’s when the reality happened.

They both admitted they had hated the color of the walls for two years (two years!) and had been withholding the truth from one another in protection of the other’s feelings. I couldn’t believe my little doggie ears. Not only did they agree a change was needed, but they admitted to essentially lying to each other (for two years!) about allegedly liking this mutual decision.

It is a baffling and foreign concept to me, as a dog’s tale (er, I mean tail) never lies. While the majority of people might assume us canines to be the best secret keepers, I can’t say that’s accurate. I shared my “secrets” with the world tonight, and I didn’t stop there. I shared the “secrets” of my people too. Let’s face it, they probably won’t be too happy with me when they see I’ve mentioned my habit of rolling around in their clothes again. (I would challenge that isn’t much of a secret because they inevitably take a piece of me with them via the fur trail I leave on the clothes, but I digress.)

“To one who waits, all things reveal themselves,” English poet Coventry Patmore tells us, “so long as you have the courage not to deny in the darkness what you have seen in the light.”

It wasn’t an easy journey, but the bathroom walls that were blue are now white, the color of purity. The color of a fresh start. Truth be told, I can’t say I notice that much a difference.

But what do I know? I hold my breath when Aaron Rodgers throws a football because I believe that will help Donald Driver catch it and score a touchdown. The behavior is part of who I am and I refuse to hide myself from reality. I understand it as part of my authenticity, part of what makes me who I am. Dogs don’t really keep secrets. You can see it in our eyes, and even more so in our tails. Besides, experience has taught me these so-called secrets have a way of surfacing on their own when you least expect it. Take it from me and my truthful tail.

 

Paw it Forward: Spring to Live February 2, 2013

It probably surprises no one that I am a lover of spring and an admirer of 1800s poet Christina Rossetti. She was a lover of life, words and any combination of the two. “Spring is when life’s alive in everything,” she once said.

I love life, so I love spring. The resulting words are ones of appreciation for what happened today. Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his burrow in Pennsylvania this morning and he didn’t see his shadow. Halleluiah! That means spring is coming early this year!

What better way to celebrate the life in spring than to reflect on what it means to us? A favorite author of mine Mark Twain believed life is best lived for a reason. “Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living,” he wrote. “The world owes you nothing. It was here first.”

With that I find myself reminded of the world that isn’t always as positive  as the lenses through which I choose to see. I’m reminded of the commercials (you know the ones) with the melancholy melodies, forlorn faces and tear-jerking thoughts illustrating the unfortunate struggles of beaten, abused and neglected animals. I’m reminded of some terrifying facts, which I have decided to share with you today.

Of the 5 to 7 million companion animals who enter animal shelters in America every year, 3 to 4 million are euthanized, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).  APSCA also suggests it is impossible to determine how many stray dogs and cats live in the United States; estimates for cats alone range up to 70 million.

What I gather from these statistics is there are millions of animals a year that are killed because they have no one to take care of them. As a former shelter dog, I know what its like to live without people involved. As if that’s not bad enough, getting euthanized because the shelter couldn’t afford to care for you anymore? That is absolutely devastating. What a terrible way to go.

I know I’m lucky to have found my forever home, but this renewed appreciation for all of life’s details reminds me of the importance of paying it forward. My brothers and sisters in canine and feline homelessness deserve to find a life as blessed as mine. So I find myself wondering how someone as little and insignificant as me can help make that happen. I pay it forward by  being aware of the resources that bring revitalization and life to the world.

Spring Forward

Be a voice for the speechless. Every donation means something to these special organizations.

Globally – There are a ton of organizations out there raising awareness of animal rights, fighting animal cruelty and promoting a better future for all those who deserve it. The American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is one of the well-known organizations that is working to defend our rights and promote adoption.

Nationally – As appreciated as the work of ASCPA may be, there are a lot of other (much less known) groups out there making a difference in the lives of animals. These groups need your help just as much (if not more) to make a difference. Among them is the Ian Somerhalder Foundation, which “aims to empower, educate and collaborate with people and projects to positively impact the planet and its creatures.”

Locally – Your local humane societies need your help. I came from the Oshkosh Humane Society. I wouldn’t trade my forever home for my room at the shelter, but I am genuinely thankful for the life I had there. The people cared for me like no one ever had, which made an otherwise scary time that much easier.

Be a home for the homeless. You won’t regret it. Cats, dogs, and other animals alike, we have hearts that love bigger than the world.

Do you feel like embracing spring in a way you’ve never experienced? Bringing a new life into your home is one of the best ways to bring refreshment and renewal to your life this spring. For me, the Oshkosh Humane Society was my train stop before I found my forever people. Where is your companion animal waiting for you?

Spring is a time for fresh starts and renewal. Why not pay it forward this spring by offering a new life to someone in need?

 

A Moment’s Paws January 23, 2013

Sometimes life hands us lemons. Truth slaps us in the face. Reality checks in to say hello. And the result isn’t always pretty.Paws for Happy Thoughts

Momma said there would be days like this. Days when pressing pause on a remote with a jammed fast-forward button seems impossible. And yet, these are days when perhaps a moment’s paws (all right, we all know I really mean pause) could be the secret ingredient we need to make lemonade out of life’s lemons.

“Before we can change anything in our life we have to recognize that this is the way it’s meant to be right now,” Breathnach writes in Simple Abundance. Accepting the present is one of the most important steps toward enjoying our future.

“Life is getting shorter, not longer, so we should live our bliss,” actress Drew Barrymore commented on today’s episode of The Chew. (Yes, I watch The Chew, and all the other food shows my mom and dad enjoy. What’s not to love about watching all kinds of human food goodness flashing before me?)

Drew’s thought got me to thinking about the role the present plays in our lives. I don’t think its a coincidence that present (as in the current time) is literally spelled the same as present (as in a gift). To me, the present is a gift, and I don’t intend to waste it.

I was reminded of this during my bi-monthly trip to Paws ‘R Us today. My groomer, Mary, (as well as her resident shop crew of canine pals) were all as happy to see me as always. After I was all cleaned up, I was enjoying some of my usual post-grooming play time with my Beagle mix pal Gus when BAM! It was like someone hit the pause button and my life flashed before my eyes.

Peter, a pit bull/lab mix, nipped at me and had a thing or two to growl to Mary when she interceded. In that instant, I relived my dark date with destiny at the dog park a few months ago. My vet’s words to my mom about “how lucky” I was to survive that pit bull attack seemed to echo off the walls.

The moment passed, and order was restored (no humans or animals were hurt during the inspiration for this blog), but I got to thinking about the role reality plays in our lives. I’ve said before that I’m a believer that life’s experiences shape who we are. Soren Kierkegaard, who is thought of as one of the founders of this existential outlook, once said “life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.”

Today was not a problem. Today was actually a pretty great day. I got to spend time with my pals at the groomer, I got a pretty nice looking haircut (if I do say so myself), and I enjoyed a longer than usual amount of playtime with mom, dad, and Mrs. Prickles tonight.

The Haircut (What do you think?)

What was it that pulled me from the past back into acceptance of reality? Sometimes a moment’s paws is in itself the answer to life’s little reality checks.