Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

The Same In Any Language October 21, 2013

He was patient. He was kind and gentle. And he fooftered. A lot. These are the things people are saying about my dear doggie cousin Scotty tonight. At the age of 12 1/2 he has left us for the Rainbow Bridge, and I can’t help but join the family in mourning his loss.

We All Have A StoryBut there’s this thing I need to share about Scotty and I. We didn’t exactly get along. This is not for lack of trying on either of our parts. We were family. And we liked each other. Scotty the greyhound and Wiley the terrier just didn’t really speak the same language. When we would get together at family functions, he would relax in what I deemed his “spot” somewhere in the middle of the living room floor. I would try with all my might to entice him into a game of chase. I wagged and jumped and pawed. And he laid there, calm as a cucumber, often in a deep and peaceful slumber. I’d never really met a dog like him before.

It all made sense when I learned more about his background. We all have a story and Scotty was no different. He spent the first five years of his life as a working dog at a greyhound race track. I can’t imagine what that must have been like, but I can testify to the quirks that became part of his unique personality as a result.

I adapted pretty easily to my forever home when I was adopted because I was used to the same things many of us rescue dogs are accustomed to. To a greyhound like Scotty on the other hand, a home was a whole new way of life. It was like a new chapter, a fresh start, and (best of all) it incorporated characters into his life like Ken and Sue (his forever people). I can tell from the time we spent together they loved him deeply, which is all any dog really ever strives for. Though I’m not even sure he knew he was a dog. In his mind he was a companion.

Scotty lived a full life as what I would describe as a servant leader. He may not have understood play, but he understood patience (which is not exactly the norm in us canines). It was with this unique sense of patience he taught me you can like each other an awful lot but sometimes you just don’t speak the same language. And that’s okay because the basic lessons of life are the same in any language.

I’ve said before all characters enter our life for a reason. I know Scotty entered mine to teach me some very important life lessons. He was patient. He was kind and gentle. He knew how to make people laugh (because let’s face it – foofters are just a fact of life). Most importantly, he taught us to live in the present. Now is the time. Not yesterday and not tomorrow. Now.

I know if he were here, he would likely agree with the words of Roman philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero who suggested “it is foolish to tear one’s hair in grief, as though sorrow would be made less by baldness.” So while I know he wouldn’t want those of us left behind to be sad (or tear out our fur for that matter), I take this moment (my own personal now) to pause and reflect on all things Scotty.

Rest in peace, dear friend. You will be missed.



If You’re Happy And You Know It July 15, 2013

I don’t think I react like most dogs when I see my reflection in the mirror. Today I looked into the glass on the wall above one of my favorite spots on the living room couch and looking back at me was an image of something spectacular. And silly. Yes, it was definitely spectacularly silly. There I was, my normal self, smiling the biggest smile of square white teeth I’ve ever seen. I looked just like one of those spokesdogs for Pedigree’s dental bones.

Wag the Joy

I stared and stared, infatuated with the vivid expression of joy staring back at me. So you can imagine my disdain when the next time I blinked it was just regular ole me staring back. The humongous smile was replaced by the reality of my somewhat stained (but still in pretty good shape) canines. My teeth are definitely not my favorite physical attribute, but my little mental mirage got me to thinking about what I do like about myself. My tail.

It got me to thinking about a dog I saw at the dog park last week. His name was Scotty and he was as happy as the rest of us, running and playing and rolling around in the mud. He was the embodiment of joy, making people at the park smile and dogs at the park wag. You would never have guessed how awful his life was in the past. You would never have guessed how he lost his leg. And part of his tail. I can’t speak for everyone, but I was shocked when I overheard the story of how Scotty the three-legged-dog met his forever parents.

He was at a shelter (like me) because one of the employees found him limping on the side of the road. The angel picked him up and took him to the humane society, pausing along the way to also pick up the bloody baseball bat a few miles down the road. The on-site vet quickly put together that the dog had been beaten, and the resulting injuries would cost him one of his hind legs. Based on the infection in his tail, the vet also deduced the dog was likely the victim of a poorly executed tail “trimming” by the owner with the baseball bat. The vet fixed him up as best he could and his forever mom adopted him a few months later.

His story made me simultaneously overcome with happiness and sadness. No one wanted him, the woman said, because of his missing leg. While I recognize the blessing that was his adoption, it breaks my heart to hear people making snap judgments like that. If anything everyone should have wanted him because his tail was so full of happiness that desperately needed to be shared. Instead he was cast aside and forgotten because he didn’t look quite right.

A bigger tail doesn’t make you a better dog. A missing limb or eye doesn’t either. And teeth that are not-quite-pearly-white anymore most definitely doesn’t. I’m glad I met Scotty and heard his story. It reminded me I don’t need the perfect white squares that are in those commercials to show how happy I am. I’m happy and I know it so I wag. And smile. And (best of all) my experiences in life have afforded me to share that happiness however I see fit.