Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

We Are What We Think May 10, 2013

If joy has four legs and a tail, I would be it. I have a roof over my head, clean water to drink and yummy food to eat. I have more toys, chews, and rawhides than one dog really needs. I spend the majority of my days (awake or asleep) dreaming big.

But all of that doesn’t stop my little doggie mind from running on with questions I wish I could answer about my past. I don’t think its a coincidence that the one I hear the most from strangers and loved ones in my life is the among the ones to which I most wish I had the answer.

A lot of people think I’m a puppy. Even more people think I’m a girl. (I blame my floofy tail). But beyond the commentary, the most common question I’ve heard in my (soon-to-be) five people years of life is by far what kind of dog I am. Oh, how I wish I knew the answer to that question. Care to harbor any guesses?

West Highland Terrier? But where did I get my tail from? Shiba Inu? But my face is fuller and I’m taller than that. Carin Terrier? Possible, but my height is again the wild card gene.Big Thinker

It is my understanding that while genetics in people over time have remained fairly alike, the genes involved in dog breeding have continued to grow more and more complex. What I know for sure is that I am not the product of a breeder. I am the product of a mother who loved me more than life itself and a male scoundrel who didn’t love her enough to stick around. I call it a fortunate accident with which I intend to do as much as paw-sibble. But all the optimism in the world doesn’t answer the question, and alas I am back at square one.

Identity. In a world where hackers and street-walking thieves alike have made identity theft a commonality, what does it even mean anymore. Here’s what I don’t understand about it. Identity is more than the contents of a purse or wallet. It’s more than someone’s name and picture on pieces of plastic. Please don’t misunderstand, I am not condoning identity theft. But I think there is an important lesson to be learned from the concept.

While the impact of identity theft is devastating in a multitude of ways, it doesn’t change the true identity of the victim. The life challenge may even make some fighting hearts stronger, and certainly encourage them to hang on tight to what’s on the inside (as well as the outside) that makes them who they are.

All of this makes my silly little question about what breed I seem pretty small in the grand scheme of things. It really doesn’t matter which breed gave me my pointy ears, fluffy tail and slightly-taller (than most terrier breeds) stature. American existential psychologist Rollo May said it best.

“Joy, rather than happiness, is the goal of life, for joy is the emotion which accompanies our fulfilling our natures as human beings,” he said. “It is based on the experience of one’s identity as a being of worth and dignity.”

I have the basic necessities (and more than a few luxuries) in a full life in a forever home with people who love me. And I love them. I am who I am because of the joy in my heart not because of what breed mixture of DNA my birth parents had. If joy has four unusually tall legs, a fluffy tail and pointy ears, I’m your dog. It’s that simple.