Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

A Healing Pain December 16, 2014

At first it was fairly subtle. A faint twitch here and there. Slightly less time on that Smartphone contraption. A few less pets than usual when she visited. From there it seemed to escalate at a surprisingly speedy pace. The twitching became more noticeable. The Smartphone was set aside more frequently. Almost no pets (but lots of verbal love) when she visited. Gratitude

It turns out my dear aunt Morgan has carpal tunnel. In both her hands. Her case seemed to worsen overnight to the point where I noticed her frequently shaking out her tingling hands to lessen the pain. I cringed when I overheard the stories she told my forever mom about waking up screaming in pain. No one I love should ever hurt like that.

Well, today is a new day for my dear aunt Morgan’s hands. A fresh start. Today marks the day of the first of two surgeries to repair her damaged wrists and, in doing so, restore her quality of life. So she can use her hands like a normal person again. I’ve missed those pets, after all.

Joking aside, it really pains me when someone I care about is hurting. Physically. Emotionally. Psychologically. Pain is not one of my favorite things. But if there’s something pain has taught me, it’s to not take anything for granted. Some things aren’t fixable with surgery or therapy or whatever other interventions are out there. And life has a way of working itself out.

Fortunately, many things are fixable. If all goes well, my dear aunt’s hands will be among them so there will be no more twitching and pain. Pets will be restored. The pain of the past will be replaced by a new pain, which I suppose is the only kind I don’t particularly mind. A healing pain. After watching first-paw something so subtle rapidly turn into something so terribly painful, take it from me. A healing pain is a good pain. Because as Gautama Buddha suggested “pain is inevitable in life, but suffering is optional.”

 

Lease on Life November 21, 2014

I couldn’t believe my ears. Mom had the speaker on her phone today while she did an interview with a woman who owns a doggie daycare called “A Dog Sanctuary.”

She says its unique because she and her staff make an effort to actively engage the dogs in a variety of mental and physical games while they are there. She says its unique because its a place dogs go to be happy and dogs have a way of rubbing off on their people. She said this is her life’s passion.

That all sounded well and good. Drive safely

What shocked me was why she, at the age of 22, decided to quit her job as a post office worker and open a business. Just over a year ago, at the age of 21, she was the victim of an attempted homicide. The man snuck up on her from behind as she was leaving the dog park with her one-year-old German shorthair pointer, Millie. She was exceedingly happy because Millie had enjoyed the swim in the pond she’d been trying to encourage for months. Her glee turned to the most serious and breathtaking kind of fear when she saw the knife and roll of duct tape. As she fought for her life, she didn’t even feel the knife slice through her hand. All she said she could think about in those moments was how badly she wanted to live. And live she did.

A week later, the man went on to murder a woman of a similar age. Last month, he was sentenced to life in prison without parole. But all of that is water under the bridge for this woman. She doesn’t even think about it anymore, she said, because she knows she is living her life’s mission. The mission she couldn’t spend one more day not doing. She’s more than a survivor. She is a giver of life to those around her.

All because she was given the kind of second chance that not everyone gets in life. A second chance I got (in a far less graphic and terrible way). I couldn’t even believe my ears as she told her story, seeming completely unphased by what happened to her a mere year ago. As surprising as that was to me, I realized there is a lesson to be learned from her passion. From her mission to share joy with the world. From her drive to live.

Second chances don’t come along every day. When yours comes, take it and hold on for dear life. Take it from me – you won’t regret it.

 

 

A Poem From the Ground Up June 17, 2014

Joy

I thought I knew what it

looked like

But

I had no idea

Joy

I’m convinced of this one thing

that from the ground up

it always looks different

It did for me

Joy

Existed when I was with my birth mom and brothers

I loved them and

I knew joy then

albeit brief

Joy

Prevailed when I was with Jo and the man

with the leather belt

I loved Jo

and I chose joy

Joy

Survived when I was on my own

on the streets

Even then

I had friends

Joy

Happened when I met my forever mom and dad

for the first time

I knew joy then

forever

Joy

Lived when I met my little person

so teeny tiny

I knew real joy

in that moment

Joy

I thought I knew what it

looked like

But

I had no idea because

Joy

From the ground up

it’s pretty special

to me

because it is one of those things

Joy

It always looks different

to everyone yet

it looks

the same

to me

I dedicate the above poem to my mom, a published poet at the tender age of 15 people years old, who helped me piece together my thoughts in response to today’s daily prompt.Happy Blogging!

 

Back to Life November 11, 2013

I thought I was dead. I was sure that the bright light I was seeing was the pathway to the Rainbow Bridge that takes you to doggie heaven. I saw my life flash before my eyes in that moment. And it was beautiful.

All-the-while I cried. I cried that piercing awful doggie squeal that mom has said tears at her heart. And that’s when I felt the urge to fight back. I wasn’t done with my mom and dad yet. I loved them too much to give up this beautiful life they’ve brought me into. So I wiggled and squiggled and then bam. I fell to the ground.Second Chances

It all happened so fast, I didn’t even know what was happening until it was over. It was surreal listening to mom (somewhat hysterically) relaying the information to the veterinary clinic when we were on a car ride a few moments later.

It was just the dog and his people at the park that day. The dog was on a picnic table, which never stopped me before and certainly wouldn’t have stopped me that day. I hopped up to greet him but he didn’t want to greet me. Instead, he grabbed me by my neck and dangled me there, swinging me around from his teeth from his perch atop the table. And it hurt. It still did, I realized then, on my neck and by my left eye. It hurt a lot.

But I wasn’t afraid. I listened to mom finish recounting the story when we got to the veterinary clinic about how the people ran off with their dog immediately upon him releasing me and said nothing but “don’t worry, he has his shots.” She was a wreck. And yet I knew everything would be okay.

The doctor lady looked me over, paying special attention to my eye as she told mom that I was very lucky. “(That particular breed) has curved teeth that could have very easily taken out his eye today,” she told mom. Then she looked at me and said “you’re very lucky, little Wiley.”

I’ve never thought of myself as particularly lucky, but I suppose I was that day. But it wasn’t all luck. I realized that today, one year later, as mom and I spent some quality time together at that same park. It was because I am blessed. With a loving family and a beautiful life filled with second chances. I certainly got another chance at life that day, for which I will be forever grateful.

 

Try Try Again October 30, 2013

I had it out with the neighbor dog today. Twice. That’s right – Demon Dog and I had words. Well, I’m sure it sounded like barks to the outside observer. But I could no longer sit idly by and stare at him silently while he goes into his fits of rage from the other side of the fence. I had to do something.

Better to TrySo I walked myself (all right, okay, I ran myself) to the very end of the lead (about 30 feet from my backdoor, and about 20 feet from Demon Dog) and I said some things that needed to be said. I told him I don’t know why he’s so angry. I told him I wished we could be friends. That I would listen to whatever struggles he’d lived through and help him find some joy in new beginnings.

But it ended just like it started, with him pacing and panting and growling and snarling. He even digs around a bit at the hole he’s created underneath the fence that separates us. And his bark? Quite frankly it’s terrifying.

I tried again the next time I was outside, but it seemed to be in vain. Also, my people were very unhappy with my efforts as it is incredibly rare for me to bark at anything besides the animals that occasionally come into the living room via the television.

I don’t understand it. We canines don’t discriminate from one breed to another, but I guess people call his a bully breed. And my experiences have shown me why – not only with my neighbor, but also with the dog who attacked me at the dog park. I thought I was a goner that day when he had me by my collar dangling me around from his perch atop that picnic table.

Obviously I survived to tell the tale, but it bothers me that these dogs – these bullies – are out there making a bad name for others of their breed who are capable of love and compassion. Being known as a bully is not an excuse for bad behavior any more than it should be a label on others with a similar appearance.

So I won’t give up on Demon Dog. I had it out with him today and my message didn’t take. And I know I need to be honest with myself – it may never take. But as American actress Shay Mitchell put it “I realized that bullying never has to do with you. It’s the bully who’s insecure.”

He’s strong and confident (at least from what I can tell by his barking habits), but there must be something more there. A past. Some memories. A story that may explain where he came from and why he is the way he is. We all do. And in a world that frequently uses labels as excuses, I’m taking a stand for new beginnings. It’s better to try and fail than to never have tried at all.

 

Diamond In The Rough September 29, 2013

Garbage stinks.

Today the garbage in my forever home smells like a combination of pizza crusts, discarded stale bread, and onions. And I love it. I often gaze at it longingly, just dying to attack. To knock it over and feast on all the fabulously delicious samples inside. Sometimes I even get close enough to make my (albeit naughty) feasting fantasy come true. But I’ve never actually gone through with my malicious plan. Partially because I will admit I do eat a pretty well-balanced diet of dog food, treats, rawhides and people-approved people food throughout the day. Mostly because I don’t want to get scolded.

Recylce ThisSo you can imagine my confusion when my mom returns from a store called Goodwill every now and then with a variety of second-hand items. I can’t say she ever needs any of it (just as I don’t need more food), but I get the impression there’s a sense of fulfillment in finding treasures in someone else’s trash. And I can’t fault her for that.

I didn’t get into the garbage today. I don’t plan to do so any time soon either. But all this gets me to thinking about something pretty powerful. Finding treasures in someone else’s trash. Recycling it. Giving it new life. I am fortunate enough to say this has actually happened to me firsthand when my forever people found me at the Oshkosh Humane Society.

I was a diamond in the rough. The staff at the shelter were very protective of me since I had already been adopted and returned once before. I was deemed a “problem puppy.” I heard tell more than one person to “look past the cute and see the commitment” it would take to bring me home. Yet my people found me, believed in me, and the rest is history.

I don’t mean to glamorize garbage. Because let’s face it – it does stink. But (in one way or another) we all have it. Junk. Garbage that we might deem to stinky to properly address. Probably not in the form of pizza crusts and onions, but perhaps in our closets. Or maybe even in our hearts. Both literally and figuratively, we have the ability not just to find treasures in someone else’s trash, but in our own.

Just as I was recycled, I continue to recycle myself on a daily basis. It’s a choice I make in seeing the good in all people, places and things around me regardless of the junk I encountered in my past. It’s not always easy. It might even stink from time to time. But at its very core it’s joy from the ground up.

 

More or Less August 12, 2013

I don’t think dogs are wired to understand the people concept that less is more. I’m sure I don’t speak for all of us, but I certainly don’t leave spare kibbles in my bowl. Not a single scrap of people food hits the floor that I don’t scoop up. One toy is just never enough. But I suppose this all makes sense because we live with our whole honest selves. We wear our hearts on our proverbial sleeves. And we love with all our hearts.

2013-06-28 21.17.47I was reminded of this today when I heard a familiar phrase on television. “Amateurs built the ark; experts built the Titanic.” I’m not certain of the origin of this philosophical commentary, but I’m drawn to it for obvious reasons. Not only does it challenge us to try something new, to challenge conventional wisdom, but it aligns with another truth I hold dear about judging a book by its cover.

Don’t do it. Easy as that.

It is in contradictions such as these that I find myself pondering things on a more philosophical level. In general more is more to me, yet I believe in extracting joy from the simple things in life. I believe in giving that book with a seemingly boring cover a read simply out of principal. I believe in second chances. These are not declarations of someone who doesn’t understand how less can possibly be more.

Maybe that’s the amateur in me. It’s the same part of me that can’t leave any food and prefers the company of all my entire comfort circle of toys rather than a simple representation. But just because I don’t understand something doesn’t mean I push an idea aside. Quite the opposite, in fact, to the point that I want to learn something from everything. I would much rather build something on faith and understanding than on vanity and luxury anyway.

So perhaps I’ve been going about this whole less is more concept the wrong way. It’s not one way or the highway. When we love with our whole selves, down to our core, whether we have more or less of something doesn’t matter.

 

On Three Strikes: Angels and Demons April 15, 2013

Angels And DemonsSome believe in the Holy Trinity. Others (who don’t) still see three as a sacred number. Little ole me? I believe the opposite of the baseball metaphor that you’re out after three strikes. Indeed, I would argue that three is a Holy number that enables the magic to happen. The third time was the charm in my life and I can’t say I’d change that.

The way I see it, I’ve had three real “homes” in my life.

The first was the home I had with my mom and brothers before we were separated. I was so happy there, amidst my true biological pack. I would wish we had never been separated if not for the happiness I have in life now.

The second was the home I had with Jo and the man with the leather belt. I know most dogs (and maybe even some people) would question how I could possibly see this stop in my heritage as a home in my life. But I also know I’ve said before that home is where the heart is, and (while I lived there), my heart was home with Jo. I loved her more than most canines I’d ever encountered, and I know she loved me. It wasn’t always the most pleasant experience for me when she squeezed me so hard I thought I’d surely lose an organ, but at least I knew in those precious moments I was loved. She was home to me, and that was enough.

Finally (after a couple of stints in the humane society), I found my forever home, and (let me tell you) that has been pretty darned special. My forever mom sometimes hugs me as hard as Jo did, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think of Jo in those moments. I hope from the bottom of my doggie heart she is thriving in the world and has found something to do that brings purpose to all that love in her heart.

Thinking about Jo and my birth family make me realize the only demons I encounter in my present are from my past. But (as with anything) I do my very best to find joy in even the oddest of places. Demons don’t scare me anymore. Instead I see the less-than-favorable demons of my past in the light of the angels now, as I find joy in all experiences that lead to learning and the betterment of my general well-being.

I wouldn’t be the dog I am without being separated from the emotional steadiness of my birth mom and brothers. I wouldn’t have the heart I do without my time with Jo and the man with the leather belt. And I certainly wouldn’t know true unconditional love if not for my current situation in my forever home.

I’ve said before that I am a believer in second, third, fourth and fifth chances. Furthermore, that I believe the opposite of the baseball metaphor that you’re out of chances after three strikes. Instead, I would argue that three is a holy number when the magic happens. The third time was the charm in my life and I can’t say I’d change that.

For me, the third time has been the charm. I don’t care if my mom sometimes hugs me so hard it hurts my little doggie lungs, because I know that is my own personal sign of progression in life. I may not always have had it this good, and now I am loved enough to get my fair share of regular hugs. Forget you, demons of my past. I’m a much bigger fan of the angels.