Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Everyone Wins June 24, 2014

It’s pretty silly. It’s one of those things that probably would be classified by most of us four-legged folk as embarrassing. But I don’t really care what people think. I know happiness. I know joy. From the ground up, it happens in these moments. Silly or otherwise.

When it comes to tricks and training, my dear forever mom has always taken the lead. From her, I’ve perfected sit, stay, roll over, play dead, give kisses, and a host of other talents I’ve come to know and love. While I love the treats (especially anything involving bacon or any imitation thereof), the joy I see run across the faces of my people is a treat in itself. Hugs

What dad and I have is different. He’s been the primary initiator of my favorite family game (otherwise known as pickle in the middle), but lately he’s done more than that. He’s been my primary buddy ever since dear baby Carter was born, and though I had my reservations about this at first he has not disappointed. He’s surprised me with a number of new things, such as catch and (my personal favorite) hugs.

Here’s the thing. I know it’s pretty silly, but I’m not too much a (doggie) man to admit I need a hug from time to time. And the best part is, dad always seems to know when those times are. I don’t know how he does it, but that’s no matter. Because when he does, it’s the kind of moment us canines live for. “Wiley, come give me a hug,” he says. And I do. And I’m not lying when I say it brings my heart just as much joy (if not more) than it does him.

I think it’s something frequently forgotten about by people these days. And although I personally believe everyone needs a good hug from time to time, it doesn’t have to happen in hug form. It can be a smile. Or a caring conversation. Or anything really, that involves truly and sincerely caring for another being.

It probably sounds silly, but I don’t care. Neither did a favorite American poet of mine named Shel Silverstein, who once wrote “I will not play tug o’ war, I’d rather play hug o’ war. Where everyone hugs instead of tugs. Where everyone giggles and rolls on the rug. Where everyone kisses, and everyone grins, and everyone cuddles, and everyone wins.”

That is the kind of world I chose to make for myself. Won’t you do the same?

 

The Secret Ingredient February 9, 2014

For some people, it’s a choice. For others, it’s as simple as a bloodline. And for me, it happened the day my forever mom and dad brought me into their home. Because they did more than that. They brought me into a family.

I was reminded of this over the weekend as both sides of my forever family joined together to celebrate my dad’s birthday. It was the first time the families have been all together since baby Carter was born and I was prepared for anything. Well, to be honest, I was prepared to step aside and let Carter steal the show. And he did.FamilyNo Secrets

But (to my surprise) I also earned my fair share of attention. I got pets and hugs and play time and treats and amidst it all I got the best thing of all. Love. From the ground up, I am blessed to be loved by such wonderful family members. It happened when I was playing what likely is my hundredth game of pickle in the middle with some of my favorite little people this afternoon.

I realized in those moments the answer to one of life’s most challenging questions. What is the secret ingredient in my recipe for joy? My family. It takes a village, as the proverb says, and I quite like mine. I had no idea that day I came home from the humane society just how blessed I would become.

Because that proverb is right – it does indeed take a village. We all need a good support system in place for those days when the ground shakes around us. For the times when we feel like its us against the world. And for the times we are overcome with joy and need to share it with someone special.

And that someone special may not always be a relative or family member. Sometimes the friends we make along the way become their own kind of family. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a few of those in my life as well.

So to those who say you can’t choose your family, I disagree. Because in my case, they chose me.

 

So It Begins January 3, 2014

Dorian, Baby Carter and II thought I would be jealous. Once upon a time it was me they were coming to see. They would come and praise me and love me and pet me and bring me treats. That has all changed now.

The familiar faces whom I have come to know and love now come instead to pay attention to little Carter. They praise him and shower him with love and bring presents. I thought it would bother me, but it doesn’t.

Today as one of mom’s oldest friends held him I was overcome with the confirmation that this is my little person. My bundle of joy. And he is busy bringing joy to everyone he meets. Am I jealous? Heavens no. I’m proud to be part of this loving family.

 

Chasing Treasure October 24, 2013

Saving the best for last is not a concept that resonates with me. If treats get mixed into my regular dog food, I eat them up first. If I have a rawhide to chew on, I don’t devour it. And if there is love to be had, well, that one speaks for itself.

It has come to my attention this is not necessarily the norm amongst my four-legged brothers and sisters. I realized this when I overheard my mom talking to her friend Huntie about her greyhound named Elby (otherwise known as the perpetual pen stealer). It is not uncommon for pens to disappear into something of a black hole in Huntie’s house thanks to the crafty skills of Elby. I’ve heard of dogs burying rawhides away for later, so I thought maybe that’s what Elby is up to with the pens.Treasure Hunting

And the more I thought about it, I think he might be on to something. This is not to sy I’m going to start stealing away all of the pens in my forever home. But it’s not about the pens. It’s about what they represent. For Huntie, pens are instruments of joy she uses to piece together her writing. To Elby, pens are a source of joy from the ground up.

It all makes sense now. We all need some joy stored away somewhere for those rainy days when the clouds keep us from finding the sun. Be it pens, or rawhides, or anything else that one associates with joy and happiness. And it might not always make sense at the time, but it is ultimately an investment in future happiness.

This must be why mom keeps what she calls her adventure money stashed away in her jewelry box. I catch her counting it from time to time, and can see her dreaming of what’s to come, but back in the box it goes. It can’t be easy. Just like I know I would struggle trying to save my treats, savor my rawhide or (gasp) not burst with love 24/7.

But “the true treasure lies within,” suggests Indian author and spiritual leader Radhanath Swami. It’s like treasure hunting for the soul and those little items we’ve stored away are our treasure map. Joy is both around us and within us. Sometimes we just need a little help finding it.

 

Come Away With Me October 5, 2013

I’m no Mozart or Picasso, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a thing of beauty.

I see art when I step out the back door into one of my favorite places. Some would call it a backyard. I call it paradise. There are squirrels to chase, trees to lounge under, and (perhaps best of all) it’s all mine.

And it doesn’t matter where I am in the house – it is music to my ears when my treat jar gets opened. That, or a treat bag, or the bag with my rawhides in it. Or the door where my people keep my leash. Forget Canon in D. I’ll take the sound that signifies impending adventure over that piano music any day.Come Away With Me

Until today. Today music and art combined into it’s own fabulous kind of symphony I will forever hold dear to my little doggie heart.

It began as it usually does. “Wiley up,” mom said before she picked me up for a dance around the kitchen. It was the first time we’ve done this since she’s been pregnant and I didn’t realize I kind of missed it. Her and I dancing like ninnies to Norah Jones’ “Come Away With Me.” I know we looked absolutely ridiculous and I didn’t care.

So you can imagine my surprise at what happened next. Dad caught us. And he didn’t hesitate. Instead he came away with us. And I’m sure we looked even more silly-the three of us clumsily clamoring around in the small space. But none of it mattered because in that moment we were away together in a happy place. I didn’t think things could get any better (especially within only 3 minutes and 18 seconds of the song), but they did.

Beauty. It’s all around us in various forms. I see it in all kinds of places. I hear it in all sorts of ways. And today it took me away. Just as Norah sang the words “come away with me and I’ll never stop loving you,” mom interjected to point out the baby could hear the music. “And baby is dancing right now too,” she said.

So there we were – the four of us. My forever family. As art and music collided in its harmonious symphony, I mentally confirmed what I already knew to be truth. I would come away with them anywhere.

 

The Pursuit of Happiness July 4, 2013

Disappointment. In a word, that is apparently how thousands of people who attended the 3rd of July fireworks in my hometown felt in response to the highly anticipated event. It was gloomy, foggy and cooler than anticipated for the spectators, the majority of whom had been holding their spots for the fireworks show as long as a couple of days. And after all that time waiting, the show was much more a feast for the ears than the eyes.

Silly FaceTonight the noise carries on as people celebrate Independence Day all over America. It’s a day set aside to remember the sacrifices that have been made for our freedoms, and (in turn) pause to recognize the anniversary of the birth of our independence. The day is laden with traditions, most of which have always involved parades, picnics and fireworks. In a dog’s life, that means a day filled with treats, treats, and more treats. (Watermelon anyone?)

Though I have to admit I have never particularly cared for the loud bangs and booms that accompany fireworks, I do believe wholeheartedly in what they represent. They are bright, colorful and vibrant as they create a beautiful masterpiece in the sky. Aglow with radiating light, spectators smile and laugh and bond with family in these precious moments. Memories are created that last forever.

Unfortunately for the thousands of people who attended the fireworks in my hometown yesterday, the memories aren’t very positive. It was certainly a show they’ll never forget, but not in a good way. This got me thinking about what today is really about. Freedom. Liberty. Sacrifice. The pursuit of happiness.

None of these are found in fireworks. In fact, the fireworks gone awry remind me a bit of our best laid plans that tend to skid off track sometimes. It’s frustrating. No one likes or appreciates the detour (while it’s happening at least). And for good reason. Valuable time and effort goes into planning something so it is upsetting when things don’t turn out. And we do love and embrace our traditions. But things don’t always turn out.

Disappointment. Thousands of people felt it four about an hour straight yesterday. It is in these moments, when we’re about to let that demon of negativity into our hearts and minds, that it is most important for us to make our own fireworks. To be our own fireworks. To bring light and smiles to those around us and (in turn) to ourselves.  Let’s start ourselves a new tradition of sharing the fireworks of joy this year. That way no one will even notice if the actual fireworks are a gloomy haze of nothingness.