Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

The Gift November 14, 2014

I remember it like it was yesterday. It was freezing cold outside, but snow was falling in the peaceful way it does in a snow storm. I was watching Jo watch the flakes fall from heaven from my favorite vantage point snuggled against the crook of her tiny legs. Carols were playing softly in the background, and the house smelled like hot chocolate and cinnamon.

It was Christmas Eve, and though Jo and the man with the leather belt didn’t have much, the man found it in his (usually stone cold) heart to make something special of the holiday. There were presents wrapped under the Christmas tree he helped Jo and I decorate, and as Jo opened them I was overcome with the purest sense of joy as I watched the giddy glee take over her usually very serious face.Wiley Schmidt: Blogger

It didn’t occur to me in the least that something under the tree was for me. I had never gotten an actual Christmas present. Joy had always been enough. Or so I thought.

If I thought Jo was joyful as she received her gifts, that was nothing compared to how she embodied happiness as she handed me my gift. It was wrapped with pretty paper and a ribbon, which I remember thinking was so silly since I obviously couldn’t unwrap it myself. “To Wiley, from your Jo” she read the tag to me before tearing into the box. Out she pulled one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen. A collar she put together using things she had around the house (ribbons, broken head bands and the like) and a shiny tag that read “Wiley.”

If dogs could cry, I would have been bawling. But alas, all I could do was lick her and love her even more than usual, which was no hardship for me by any means. That was the very first collar I had and in many ways it remains my favorite to this day.

It wasn’t all that long after that blessed day that I remember feeling my heart break when the man with the leather belt ripped my precious collar off that day he left me on the side of the road. I loved being Jo’s Wiley. I was her protector, and she was mine. I will never forget her, or that beloved collar she gave me.

But I realized many (many) blessed days later that it’s not about the collar. It’s about belonging. It’s about knowing where I belong. Where home is.

I know there are dogs who nip and scratch and tear at their collars. I’ve never been one of them. My collar says who I am, but more importantly it says what I am. I am somebody’s. I belong. My people have changed the collars themselves up a few times since finding my forever home, but the one I’m wearing now says it all. “Rescued” it reads. Having a home, and having reminder of that to call my own is the best gift I could ever be given.

 

To Be Rescued October 15, 2014

There are moments in life when you just don’t want to hear it. Moments when you would much rather stew in your misery or frustration or grief about whatever challenges you face. The dreaded words “everything happens for a reason” are the absolute last thing you want to hear. They offer you no peace in that moment. No rest. And they certainly don’t make the original problem go away. They are a line of garbage.

Except that they’re absolutely and completely 100 percent true. In spite of a few emotional battles, I’ve always known it. And, as I have followed a story of a two-legged friend of mine during the past week, I know it in my bones. Her name is Emily, and she is my hero.

A patriot for rescue dogs, she in the last several days has personally taken on the emotionally tasking job of reeling in two stray dogs near her neighborhood in Dallas, Texas. It hasn’t been easy, for Emily or the dogs, who she has since named Dallas and Cricket.

She has worked diligently to earn their trust, leaving out food and water for them for several days and keeping her distance until they were ready. She unsuccessfully attempted to enlist help from neighbors. Sadly, she learned that the area where she found the dogs was a common dumping ground for strays. She was heartbroken to learn of this, not only for the dogs, but for the people who have become completely desensitized to the problem.

Beyond all of this, she cared. She cared enough to put her life (and the immediate needs of her beloved dog, Lupy) on hold. She cared enough to be patient. She cared enough to make a difference. Why? She had two touching reasons I believe are better shared in her words.

I believe God doesn’t give up on people, no matter how much they push away, or have doubts or are scared and my overwhelming sense of love toward this dog I don’t even know must be miniscule in comparison to the love God feels for his creation. The words ‘whatever you do unto the least of these’ and I don’t care if some people argue that that was only meant about people, I don’t think it was, I think God wants us to care for his creation dearly. So even when I start losing hope when she runs away from me, or when I’m not able to slip the leash over her head, I just keep thinking of those two things and how even if I can do good in my small corner of the world, it’s never futile even if the result isn’t the miraculous one I’m hoping for.

Everything happens for a reason. From the ground up, I’m guessing Dallas and Cricket didn’t want to hear it. For whatever reason, they had both lost all hope in people. For all we know, they had both lost all hope in life itself.

But now, thanks to the passionate persistence of one person, Dallas is set to be adopted. There is more work to be done for Cricket, who really likes cheese and peanut butter but still needs to work on her trust issues. The point is Emily hasn’t given up. And because of that, Dallas and Cricket will have forever homes. They will know what it’s like to be rescued. They will know what it’s like to feel the love of a person. Take it from me, there is no greater thing.

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Seeking Selflessness February 15, 2014

Her name was Olivia. And she was the most beautiful spaniel mix I’d ever seen. Granted, I only saw her on a computer screen and didn’t actually meet her in person. But mom did and she tells me she was pretty swell. At the tender age of two months old, she was a black and brown bundle of puppyhood joy. And she almost became part of my forever family today.

My dear aunt Morgan has been searching for her first fur baby of her own for more than a year. She has been through a lot on her search, from moments of heartbreak to moments of hope. She has fallen in love with dachshunds and terriers and bearded collies of all ages and sizes. She has considered buying a purebred of some kind, but would really prefer to rescue.

And today she thought for sure she had finally found her match. Olivia looked into her eyes and she just knew. That is, until she didn’t. Mom was there with her to help make this big decision and she tells me they were fetching the adoption paperwork when my dear aunt Morgan did a completely selfless thing. She changed her mind.

Ultimately she couldn’t live with knowing her challenging work schedule that (every now and then) keeps her away from home for 12 hours at a time would simply be too long to leave poor little Olivia alone. I know it was tough for her to leave Olivia’s big brown eyes behind. But that’s not where the story ends for her. She was indeed adopted today by a family who was waiting anxiously for Morgan to make a decision. And I bet she will be happy there.

Because rescue, from the ground up, is the real deal. I am a living breathing example of a rescue success story, and even mine wasn’t perfect. That’s the thing about situations like this. Life in itself is a big deal. It brings us twists and turns and ups and downs. It challenges us. It keeps us on our paws. And when it comes to making big decisions, it frankly sucks sometimes.

Her name was Olivia and she was a game changer. She didn’t join our forever family today but she taught us all a lesson in selflessness and patience. I’ll be the first to admit patience is not something I’m great at. That’s why I know Morgan will find her perfect match soon. Because today she made another tough decision. Today she confirmed she will not settle. And I’m proud of her.

 

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/

 

Search and Rescue November 6, 2013

I’ve seen it all before. And the story ends the same every time. But today the moral of that story took me by surprise.

My mom misplaced her glasses this morning. She looked everywhere as I followed her through the house. They weren’t on the nightstand or under the bed (I helped her look). They weren’t in either of the bathrooms. They weren’t in the freezer (stranger things have happened). So she stopped looking. She went about her other business and that’s when it happened. The lost glasses were found on the dresser in the bedroom right where she left them the night before. Right where the belonged.

I see the lightAnd it struck me. She had to stop looking to find what was lost. It got me to thinking about this misconception I think people have about us canines being able to find anything we’ve left someplace. Sure, there are some breeds that are especially gifted at tracking just about anything. But there are others who leave a graveyard of buried bones in the backyard of a home when moving to another. I’m not proud to say I probably fall into the second category myself.

Especially when I think back to one night in particular at the Oshkosh Humane Society. It was the night after Rusty left me to go to doggie heaven. He took his contagious optimism with him, leaving me behind with nothing but my thoughts. So I resolved to change some things that night. I resolved to stop trying so hard to be adopted. I was probably not helping matters by trying to jump into the arms of all of my visitors anyway. So I stopped looking.

I know it sounds terrible coming from your resident doggie optimist but sometimes I think that’s what it takes to find what we’re really looking for. “Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves,” as one of my favorite transcendentalist thinkers Henry David Thoreau put it.

I’ve seen it all before and it always seems to end the same way. It’s quite the paradox really. From little things like mom’s glasses to life-changing things like when my forever people found me, sometimes what we seek is more easily found when we stop looking for it. And so the lost is found.

 

Paws For A Cause September 3, 2013

The sun is always shining. No one goes hungry. And everyone has a dog.

There is a common misconception (even among my people) that dogs who stay home alone while they’re away at that place called work do nothing but sleep their days away. While there is some truth to this (I do nap throughout the day), one thing is for sure. Among other things, my mind is always an active place where the sun shines, there is plenty of food to go around, and everyone knows the love of a dog.Hard At Work

Waking and sleeping, these are parts of a much larger dream world I spend a lot of time in throughout my days. We all have one – a “happy place” in our minds we retreat to in good times and bad. And it looks different for everyone. But every now and then something reminds me that its all just a dream. That is, until I do something to make it a reality.

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer,” suggested American patriot Harriet Tubman. “Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”

Strength. Patience. Passion. These are the ingredients for positive change.

Albeit I have absolutely no control over the sun (nor do I think it would actually be that great an idea for it to shine literally all the time). I also cannot solve the global problem that is world hunger no matter how badly I wish I could. And I can’t undo the allergies people have to pet dander.

But I can stand firmly behind a cause. Animal rescue. If strength, patience and passion create a recipe for dreamer success, rescue is itself my recipe come to life. Rescue is a second chance. Renewal. A fresh start.

In my dreamscape, no one in need of rescue would go ignored. Because there’s this surprising thing I’ve noticed about my dream of being rescued becoming a reality. Its contagious. Many of the dogs I know who were rescued in turn rescued their person in some way. Not always, and perhaps not right away, but in some (literal or figurative) way, the rescuee becomes the rescuer.

It is this above all else that I dream about while my people are away at that place called work all day. I dream about helping others find their forever people just as I did. About second chances. About hope. Hope for positive change in the lives of others. My efforts might be small in the grand scheme of things. But they’re not small to me.

An organization called Rescue Pledge believes in the power of rescue just like me.
Please consider standing with me. Take the Rescue Pledge today.