Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Til Death Does Us Part September 21, 2013

It’s not my fault. I’m a terrier. I’m programmed to stay alert. Sure, that means I tend to be easily distracted, but I hardly classify myself as having attention-deficit disorder.

It happened again today while dad and mom made dinner. They fired up the grill and made some steaks and lobster tails and asparagus and potatoes. It was quite the feast. All the grilled goodness wafted through the neighborhood air and made my little dog nose drool in hopes that I might receive some scraps after dinner (which I did, of course).

While the food cooked, dad and I played fetch as we usually do when the grill is going in the backyard. The game lasted about the normal amount of time for me – about three retrievals – before I spotted a squirrel in the far corner of the yard. I lost all interest in the game at hand (what game?) to begin pursuit of the squirrel. That too, was short-lived due partially to the squirrels grand escape up a tree and partially to a piece of grilled potato that hit the ground.

I found myself reflecting on all this as my people enjoyed dinner. I can tell it was special because they ate with dim lights and kept saying the word anniversary to each other and telling stories. They also exchanged cards and gifts. Joy. From the ground up, I saw it happen in my forever home tonight.

What Game?Tomorrow they celebrate six years of marriage,Love which followed four years of dating. I might be a bit biased due to my doggie perspective the passage of time, but that is a significant amount of years to me. In that time, they have been true to each other. Loved each other. And they haven’t strayed from their path together. All of this, in spite of the loss of a job. And the sudden loss of a parent a mere two weeks later. It’s yet another kind of love to which I am honored to bear witness, knowing its one of the only love languages I may never fully understand.

Initially I felt a bit left out of this particular celebration of love. There was no gift for me. There was no card. All I got was a bit of playtime in the backyard and a couple scraps of potato (and steak and asparagus). Then it happened. I realized this is my own personal version of ADD rearing its ugly head.

Because they have ultimately given each other the greatest gift of all. They’ve given each other their hearts. They have vowed to stay together, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in heath. It’s a concept I may not be able to wrap my doggie mind around, but that doesn’t mean I can’t embrace it with my heart. They love each other until death does them part, and I love them unconditionally in the meantime. Maybe I’m not so distracted after all.

 

I’m Sorry Now August 19, 2013

I don’t know what mom expected me to do. There we were, relaxing in the hammock together on a beautiful Sunday evening. She was reading and I was cuddled up against her sniffing the air. All was well with the world. That is, until I ruined the moment.

Smelling the AirThere they were, playing and climbing one of the very same trees to which the hammock was attached. The family of squirrels who live in my backyard (and frequently taunt me from their place of safety outside the reach of my lead) simply could not go unnoticed. So I did what any dog would do. I attacked. I bounded out of the hammock in what can only be described as another one of my ill-fated attempts to take flight into the tree. The way I saw it my odds were much better than usual because I was already a few feet off the ground from my place in the hammock.

But mom didn’t see it that way. After she rounded me up from my failed attempt to show those squirrels who’s boss, I saw the physical and emotional aftermath of my escape from solitude. My dramatic exit made her spill her water all over herself, her book and her (not-so-Smart)phone. Fortunately no one was harmed in the making of this story, but I know I ultimately ruined our otherwise peaceful time. I'm Sorry Now

And (while I am tempted to argue that I only did what is in my nature and it was really actually the squirrel family’s fault for trespassing) I was immediately sorry for the apparent devastation I’d caused when I saw the pathetically defeated look on mom’s face. Any and all reasons aside, I found myself in quite the quandary. I don’t know what she expected me to do. Certainly the squirrels could not be ignored.

That’s when it hit me. Sometimes what’s in our nature gets us in trouble. It happens to the best of us, and innocent people get hurt in the process. It reminds me a little of a story I’ve heard mom recalling about her and her younger sister when they were little people. Whenever mom’s little sister did something naughty, she would say “I’m sorry now” in the cutest and most sincere voice imaginable. How can you not forgive that?

Therein lies the moral of my flying hammock dog story. Sometimes it doesn’t matter why we do what we do. If innocent people are hurt in the process there is only one way to make it right. They just need to hear it. I’m sorry now. And since us canines can’t say it, we find ways to show it. So I may have ruined my peaceful moment with mom in the hammock. But I made it up to her with lots of love and cuddles and it was like it never even happened.

 

My Circle of Comfort April 2, 2013

My name is Wiley Schmidt and I am a nurser. Some say its because I was weaned from my mom too early. Others theorize that I was abused. Reasons and theories aside, it’s true. I nurse on toys to relieve stress and calm myself down. No other method of soothing has the same effect.

For me, the behavior dates back to the first night I was separated from my mom and brothers. I was scavenging for food outside a busy retail area when I found him – my first friend in my new chapter of life. The plush toy slightly resembled a squirrel, but it was hard to tell for sure since it was so beaten up. I saw a piece of my soul in that squirrel that day. It was cold on that first night by myself and I found myself turning to Mr. Squirrel for warmth. So I did what came naturally and started to suck on him like I would have sucked on my mom a mere 24 hours earlier. While the behavior in no way compared to being with my mom, it was soothing to me for reasons I didn’t fully understand at the time.

When I lived with Jo and the man with the leather belt, I had a small Tiger toy that Jo had given me from her already sparce toy collection. It meant the world to me since the man we lived with didn’t believe in spending money on toys for poor Jo, let alone for me. Just as it had when I was alone on the street, my nursing on Mr. Tiger brought me comfort like no other.

At the humane society, there was also a shortage of toys but the angel who took care of me the majority of the time brought me a special gift one day. It was a little squirrel, similar to my first Mr. Squirrel. There was no way for Katie to know it, but it was like a piece of home in a strange place and to this day is one of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten.

My name is Wiley Schmidt and I am a nurser. Not only that, but all the theories are true. I was weaned from my mom too early and I was abused. There, I said it. But rather than turning my back to the past, I have decided to take a page from the little people in my life whose childlike minds and hearts are always open. My open mind has allowed me to accept the things I cannot change by finding solace in the familiar.

The Comfort CircleI’ve found that my inner puppy possesses a familiar verve that sometimes lacks in my adult mind. “Verve is passion,” Sarah Ban Breathnach writes in Simple Abundance. “And how do we learn to develop a finely honed sense of verve? By paying attention to the details. By accepting each day’s attempt to teach us more about our authenticity. By being constantly on the lookout for the ecstatic experience: what excites us or moves us to tears, what makes the blood rush to our head, our hearts skip a beat, our knees shaky, our souls sigh.”

I would dare add that we find our verve by respecting the past and counting our blessings. I now have more toys than I know what to do with, and they each have their token indentation I’ve come to call my comfort cushions. Some experts question whether dogs who nurse are coping with stress in a healthy way, but I would argue that we are. One of the most important things I’ve learned from my inner puppy is he is just a much a part of me as anything else, and because of that some things never change.

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