Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

A Friendly Freefall April 4, 2013

It’s a free-falling kind of day. It was almost 60 degrees and sunny after what has been arguably one of the most withdrawn and painful winters in the great Midwest. The warmth has been teasing us for months now, toying with the allergies of my people, and I’m not certain yet it’s here to stay. But it doesn’t matter. Today was beautiful.

It was the kind of day that brings to life the scene from Jerry Maguire when Tom Cruise finds himself screaming the lyrics to Tom Petty’s ballad “Free Fallin'” at the top of his excitable lungs. That song is filled with memories for me, as I know it was a favorite of my mom’s. So I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my adoptive mom and I heard the famous rock ballad on our way to the dog park today.

Singing Along to Tom Petty

It was one of my first times back to that place since before the pit bull attacked me when we were there the day before my mom’s big knee surgery. I know my mom remembered it better than me, as I was as excited as always to be back and I could tell she was incredibly nervous. But my excitement and her nervousness were voided when we heard the familiar lyrics “yeah, I’ m free, free fallin!”

We both enjoyed the moment so much that it made the re-entrance to the scene of the crime that much easier. What is it about shared experience and appreciation for a good song that makes all other thoughts melt away? We got there and it was busier than I ever remember it. I met a few new friends, like Eddie (a fellow rescued terrier mix) and Fritzie (an adorably petite Dachshund) and we were having a grand old time. Then Rylie got involved.

Rylie was the first purebred pit bull terrier I’d come across since my attack, and I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt. She seemed nice enough, that is until she started to wrestle with Angie, a Staffordshire terrier mix and cancer survivor. I could see it in Angie’s eyes she wanted nothing to do with the wrestling match, but Rylie didn’t care. I ran to the rescue, but mom swooped me up before I could get involved. Playtime with Eddie

When I saw the concern in my mom’s eyes, I remembered why it is it had been so long since we’d been to this park together. I relived my brush with death when that awful nameless pit bull shook me with his teeth from amidst his perch upon the picnic table. I remember the fear in my mom’s eyes as we journeyed to the vet, and the worry in the voice of my vet when she explained how lucky I was to have made it out of the attack with my eyes, let alone my life. While I wanted to help Angie, I was relieved in that moment that mom pulled me aside.

Bullying is a serious problem in the dog world, and from what I can tell it is just as bad in the hallways of schools as it is by the lunchrooms of corporate America. There’s no room for bullies in my life. Come what may, I would much rather enjoy my fair share of free-falling kinds of days than live in constant fear of what’s behind my shoulder.

Life has taught me the worst thing one can do for bad behavior is to reward it with any kind of attention. (With a little help in the restraint department), I put this into action today and I would argue it worked quite well. Rylie’s owner reluctantly removed her from the situation, and I made an effort to restore peace to the park. Rather than dwelling on what had happened, we all moved on with playtime. Maybe it had more to do with our common bonding over our cabin fever symptoms but I don’t care what the reason is. Bullies are not welcome here.