Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

A Wise Man Listens December 5, 2014

Sleep is a close friend of mine. We’ve basically been best friends forever since day one. I’m sure my schedule in a day consists of no more beauty sleep than the average canine. There’s the early morning and mid-morning naps, followed by the early afternoon and mid-afternoon naps. Usually there’s a late afternoon and evening nap too before it’s finally time for one of my absolute favorite times of the day – bedtime.

An outsider might see this as a waste of time. I see it as the opposite. I do a lot of deep thinking and dreaming big in my sleep. I also usually have one ear open to the world. It’s a trick I learned during my time at the Oshkosh Humane Society that I have perfected over the years. Listening. From the ground up, it’s one of many reasons why we dogs are known as man’s best friend. We listen when we’re asleep. We listen when we’re awake. And when I say we listen, we really listen. Tired from the run

We are present in a way I can’t say all people are, at least from what I’ve observed. I say this with a soft kindness in my heart, because I know it is a skill that takes practice, and not everyone has had the practice necessary to be a good listener. It helps that we can’t talk back, obviously, but it’s more than that. We might not understand all the words that well, but we read emotion like champions.

So I couldn’t help but giggle mentally when I found a scrap of paper dear baby Carter threw on the ground while my forever family ate dinner. According to mom it was something called a fortune from a Chinese cookie. It bothers me that I don’t know who to attribute the quote to (other than to say it was once inside a fortune cookie), but the words stuck with me. “Anyone can hear, but a wise man listens,” the paper read.

Anyone can hear, but a wise man listens. The subtle message in the words is one with which I resonate deeply. I aspire to be wise, which I understand means making wise decisions. Some might argue I’m choosing poorly spending so much time sleeping. I would argue first that I always have one ear open. But more importantly, I would defend myself with the simple truth. I’m resting up.

To be a good dog. To be a good listener. To be a good friend to my people. And it’s because of these things I know there’s a purpose behind everything in life if you chose to listen instead of hear.

 

Every Single Day August 2, 2014

Every year my reaction is the same. “It’s Fish Day!” mom will say. Meanwhile, my mouth starts watering and I begin to pace the hallways of my forever home because I know what this means. And as mom and dad put on their flip flops, I know the journey is about to begin.

As long as I’ve been around my forever family, it means off to Port Washington, Wisconsin we go. It is the home to lots of things, including the birthplace and childhood home of my dear forever father. But on this one special day every year it is the home to so much more. It is home to the world’s largest one-day outdoor fish fry. (Google it if you don’t believe me). And, since it is home to much of the Schmidt family, that means it’s a reason to celebrate.

Because I’m sure everyone has one. A month of birthdays. For us it’s July. In addition to my dear forever mom and several of her pals, her sister and mom have birthdays in July, as well as dear favorite little people of mine Abigail and Sam, and my forever father’s dad Gerry.

So you could say that Fish Day has taken on a life of its own for our forever family. It’s a day when we get together and celebrate by way of eating fried fish, but there is also cake. (Which means there is a little frosting to spare for everyone’s favorite four-legged friend otherwise known as me).

And this year, I was surprised to find even more meaning behind this special day. Yes, everyone was glad everyone was born. And yes, everyone loves a good piece of fried fish and birthday cake for dessert. But this year was different for my forever family. Because this year involved dear baby Carter. And he was a bit of a handful, what with all of his almost 7-month-old teething at the time. Master of the computer

But none of that mattered to his grandma Schmidt, especially since she hadn’t seen him in a few weeks. He fussed and cried and did everything he doesn’t normally do. But what I saw through her eyes that day was pure and completely uncomplicated love and appreciation for all things this little person would bring into the world.

Joy. From the ground up, I saw that in her wisdom that day. Her and my dear forever mom talked at length in the living room with no one but a sleepy Carter and myself there to hear them about life as a mom and all that entails. I’ve heard it before from other family members (like my mom’s mom and sister) too, but something seemed to come full circle that day hearing it from my grandma Schmidt. Like in some odd way everyone who loves dear baby Carter was on the same page.

This isn’t to say I didn’t know this before. But I know every year something special is going to happen at Fish Day and this year was no different. This year I was reminded there is so much more to life than fried fish (though that was and always will be very yummy). There is life. And the love that life breeds. These are the things worth celebrating not just one day a year but every single day.

 

 

 

Sky Full of Stars July 23, 2014

When we’re little, we can’t wait for it. It’s like something we have our own internal countdown for, just waiting until that special day arrives. Then it does and we wish it hadn’t. Birthdays. From the ground up, I’ve come to wonder about them, mostly because I’ve always thought I would know when that day came. That day, when I knew beyond a doubt that I was completely and utterly grown up. That day, when I felt on my game. That day, when I felt wise.

Well I don’t know about you, but I haven’t yet recognized such a day. At the tender age of six people years old (which is equivalent to about 42 doggie years old), I say with complete honesty that I can’t say I’ve ever actually felt like a grown up. Not in the traditional sense of the term anyway. But today, as I paused to watch my forever family for a bit, I realized maybe it isn’t about that.Think with the Heart

I sat by, as I always do, while mom and dad had dinner together. More recently, dear baby Carter has joined them for dinner as he eats various concoctions of what my people call “solids,” which (at least in my opinion) greatly resemble soups of various homemade flavors. His options thus far include mango, sweet potato, broccoli, avocado and (as of tonight) banana. And it’s all very exciting both for him, as well as my beloved forever mom and dad.

Today as I watched what is my reality unfold I realized I am, in fact, living my dream. I can’t say I knew what it would look like when I was a puppy. I know I was like anyone else, looking forward to being a grown up more than anything else. I couldn’t wait for the outside world to see me differently. To see me as a grown up.

Today I realized none of that really matters as much as remembering your inner child. Sure, it’s fun to think about what it might be like one day when you’re all grown up. That one day when you have everything figured out. That one day when you feel wise. But I realized today being grown up has absolutely nothing to do with that one day. It has everything to do with the days that follow. It has everything to do with how you move forward, how you make a difference. How you live.

So today I recommit my life to one of wisdom. I recommit myself to seeing a sky full of stars whenever it’s in front of me. I recommit myself to live. From the ground up, that’s about as simple as it gets.

 

 

Eye of the Beholder June 29, 2014

Apparently it’s not just me. It happens to other doggies all the time regardless of breed or upbringing. It’s common regardless of whether it is a rescue dog or a pup from a breeder. Good dogs fail (and subsequently) drop out of obedience school all the time. While I figured this had to be the case, I would be lying if I said the news of this did not allow me to breathe a measurable sigh of relief. All In the Eyes

Because I might not have a pretty piece of paper that says I graduated from puppy school. To this day, I struggle with basic commands like heel and down (I can’t help it that I get excited). But I would argue what I have is better than any of these things. I have the deepest and sincerest love in my heart. For my beloved forever people. For their families. For life. Joy. From the ground up, I have it in these things.

I was reminded of this today when I shared a special (albeit routine) glance with my beloved forever mom. We have an unspoken language of love, her and I, and it happened again today. Dear baby Carter has been doing this thing where he gets up on all fours like he’s going to crawl and then just sort of bounces there for several minutes at a time. If anything, he moves backward instead of forward. Nonetheless, it’s become somewhat of a sideshow around here lately and when it happened tonight, mom and dad dropped everything to live in the moment.

Meanwhile, I stood by watching this all unfold. I didn’t feel badly and certainly didn’t need any reassurance that I was part of the group. But I got it anyway. I stayed out of harm’s way several feet from the action but this I could not miss. She looked at me and smiled and I saw right through her eyes into her heart in that moment. She loves me as she always did.

It’s funny, I didn’t need obedience school to read my mom’s thoughts. Nor did she need the classes to communicate to me. It reminds me of the words of dog trainer Fred Jungclaus, who said “I used to look at my dog and think if you were a little smarter you could tell me what you’re thinking and he’d look at me like he was saying if you were a little smarter, I wouldn’t have to.” I don’t want to brag, but I think mom and I have it under control. I don’t need a pretty piece of paper to know this in my heart as truth.

 

Search and Rescue November 6, 2013

I’ve seen it all before. And the story ends the same every time. But today the moral of that story took me by surprise.

My mom misplaced her glasses this morning. She looked everywhere as I followed her through the house. They weren’t on the nightstand or under the bed (I helped her look). They weren’t in either of the bathrooms. They weren’t in the freezer (stranger things have happened). So she stopped looking. She went about her other business and that’s when it happened. The lost glasses were found on the dresser in the bedroom right where she left them the night before. Right where the belonged.

I see the lightAnd it struck me. She had to stop looking to find what was lost. It got me to thinking about this misconception I think people have about us canines being able to find anything we’ve left someplace. Sure, there are some breeds that are especially gifted at tracking just about anything. But there are others who leave a graveyard of buried bones in the backyard of a home when moving to another. I’m not proud to say I probably fall into the second category myself.

Especially when I think back to one night in particular at the Oshkosh Humane Society. It was the night after Rusty left me to go to doggie heaven. He took his contagious optimism with him, leaving me behind with nothing but my thoughts. So I resolved to change some things that night. I resolved to stop trying so hard to be adopted. I was probably not helping matters by trying to jump into the arms of all of my visitors anyway. So I stopped looking.

I know it sounds terrible coming from your resident doggie optimist but sometimes I think that’s what it takes to find what we’re really looking for. “Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves,” as one of my favorite transcendentalist thinkers Henry David Thoreau put it.

I’ve seen it all before and it always seems to end the same way. It’s quite the paradox really. From little things like mom’s glasses to life-changing things like when my forever people found me, sometimes what we seek is more easily found when we stop looking for it. And so the lost is found.