Travels With Maggie: A Memoir in the Making - LetterPile - Writing and Literature
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Travels With Maggie: A Memoir in the Making

If It Ain’t Raining It’s a Great Day

Actually, any day I’m above ground is a great day, but toss in forty-eight degrees and sunshine and, well, it’s a cause for celebration.

Last week we had what the Weather Bureau described as a “sunny” day, meaning no clouds. Now I mention that because it was the first time in eighty days we had a “sunny” day.

We are sun-starved in this part of the world. It’s a miracle we aren’t all suffering from depression.

It is a partly-cloudy day today, a bit cool, a good day for fleece and no hat. Won’t you join us on our walk? I’ll just park the truck where the pavement ends and the wonder begins.

A dog playground

A dog playground

A Memoir?

That’s what my friend Heidi suggested, that I write my second memoir centering on these jaunts with my dogs Maggie and Toby. Needless to say, my canines are quite excited about that suggestion. Maggie wagged her tail vigorously when I mentioned the possibility, and since Toby looks up to Maggie, he approved of the idea as well.

Toby’s like that, a pretty agreeable dog. My buddy Frank was like that. No matter what hair-brained idea I had in school, Frank would just smile and go along with it. I’m quite certain he, at times, thought I had lost my mind completely, but good friends are like that, you know. Good friends don’t judge good friends. I’ve known that since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, I’ll die with it etched on my memory, and I have my dad, and Frank, Toby and Maggie and Bev, and others, to thank for that priceless wisdom.

Anyway, as we walk today, I’m left wondering what that memoir would look like. An idea is forming in my head, the typical process for me, creatively speaking, a small sprout springs up, reaching for sunlight, and then other growths appear, new buds, all reaching up, and eventually a cohesive book forms. It’s pretty remarkable, far beyond my comprehension, and I’m thankful for it.

My Maggie Girl

Maggie sees something and begins running north towards it when she stops, turns, runs five feet back, and begins sniffing at something five feet west of where she had run. Amazing is all I can say, her sense of smell, to notice something while running at fifteen miles per hour, concentrating on something she has seen and yet noticing something, with another sense, as she passes it.

And I can’t help but think how utterly clueless I am at times, how many things I have not seen because I can be shackled by tunnel vision, total concentration on the task at hand, while life continues to whirl all around me, and ain’t that just a little bit sad?

“Nowhere man, please listen, you don’t know what you’re missing . . . “

We humans are supposedly something pretty damned special, the top of the food chain, you know, the ultimate predator, smart as a whip, able to leap tall buildings at a single bound, and yet we miss so much of life twirling and swirling all around us. How smart is that?

I will go to my grave convinced that Maggie can tell when I’m sad. She is that tuned into my actions and feelings. I’m her human, as is Bev, and she spends most of her time observing me and reacting to me, and how cool is that? How cool it would be if we smarty-pants humans could spend a little more time tuning into each other and really paying attention to the feelings of each other.

The checker at Safeway the other day handed me my receipt and said “Have a nice day” without even looking at me and while reaching for the first item of the customer behind me. Did he really mean it? Would it have killed him to take a second to make eye contact with me and make me feel like he really gave a shit?

Excuse my language, please, but the older I get the more these things matter to me.

Maggie

Maggie

Toby Shows the Way

Just last night Toby jumped up, put his two front legs in my lap, and stared at me, his face no more than six inches in front of my face. He just kept on doing it while I was petting him, staring into my eyes, total concentration on his human. It was pretty remarkable, truth be told. At that moment there was an intimate connection between a man and a dog, much more of a connection than I had with any other human that day, and again I find that sad. For the love of the gods, would it kill us to slow down a bit and make more human connections?

Maggie has human eyes. Everyone who sees her says so. They are the most beautiful canine eyes I’ve ever seen, and when she gets up close and personal it’s almost freaky, like a four-legged human is making mind-meld contact with you, a shout out to Mister Spock.

Shouldn’t it be that way with humans?

Tobias

Tobias

Toby and Gandhi

Toby is the humanitarian in our walking group. Toby has never met a person he didn’t like. He assumes the best about everyone. Maggie, on the other hand, is a lot like me. She is reserved and guarded. Her tail does not automatically start wagging like Toby’s. In fact, faced with a stranger, Maggie will go into a crouch at first. Her nose will twitch and her eyes will lock onto that stranger. After awhile she will determine friend or foe and react accordingly, all the while Toby is licking the same person and spreading peace throughout his kingdom. It’s a frantic, hyper, bull-in-a-china-closet sort of peace, but peace it still is. We should send Toby to the United Nations. There would be peace on earth within days of his arrival.

Bev and I

Oddly, it Is the same dynamic with Bev and I. Bev is the shining example of all that mankind can be. She is impossible to dislike. She smiles at everyone and wants to help everyone. Me, not so much. I do not automatically trust others as Bev does. I do not smile that often. In fact, and I’m a bit embarrassed admitting this, but I just don’t have a terribly high opinion of my fellow man. I find mankind fascinating, and I marvel at our ability to soar with the kinder angels of our nature, but our baser instincts cancel all that out more often than not, and I’m left greatly disappointed in my species.

Maybe that’s why these walks are so good for me. I can learn from my dogs on these walks. They truly are the teachers on these strolls and I the student, and I need a great deal of schooling.

Beverly

Beverly

Thanks for Joining Us

I think next week we will move our walk to the city, around our neighborhood. The weather is warming, more people are out walking, and it would do me good to meet more people and practice my people skills. No worries, though. No matter where we walk, you can bet the pavement will end and the wonder will begin wherever Maggie and Toby reside.

I hope you join us then. Until then, I’ll be thinking about that next memoir.

Bill

2020 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

Comments

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 06, 2020:

You are never late, Genna!

We are fine here. Most of the problems in Washington are happening sixty miles to the north of us. If we play it safe and follow the guidelines, we will be fine.

You take care of you, my friend. Blessings to you always!

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on April 05, 2020:

(Sorry I'm late, Bill. I'm so far behind with my comments. With all the layoffs at our company, those of us who weren't are working from home 10-12 hours a day.)

The photos of Maggie and Toby are just adorable. They are both such cutey pies. And I love Maggie's mind-meld a la Mr. Spock, and sending Toby to the United Nations. How interesting and endearing that you and Bev share the same dynamic. The memoir is a wonderful idea.

Washington has had such an overwhelming and tough time (as NY and other places). Hope you guys are staying safe, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 20, 2020:

Thank you Nithya. You are always welcome on our walks. Stay safe and have a happy weekend.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on March 19, 2020:

Maggie seems to be the cautious kind taking time to get to know a person before wagging her tail. Toby on the other hand is carefree and ready to befriend anyone and everyone. Yes, I agree that this world would be a better idea place if we could take some time to get to know each other. I enjoyed the walk, thank you for sharing. Oh yes, another memoir will be fantastic.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 19, 2020:

We are well, Ann! Thank you!

bill

Ann Carr from SW England on March 18, 2020:

Thanks, bill. Hope you are all keeping safe and well.

Ann

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 16, 2020:

The sun has arrived, Dora, so your positive thoughts must be the reason for it. Thank you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 16, 2020:

That would be a fun write for sure, William...maybe just one installment with them doing the talking. I'm up for that.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 16, 2020:

Thank you Ann, and I stick with what I said...intelligent indeed!

Be safe and happy

bill

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 16, 2020:

Thank you Bill! I hope this finds you and your family healthy. Take care and I'll see you soon online.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on March 15, 2020:

Bill, how I wish that I could mail you some sunshine! You and the dogs have a whole of love and positivity to share. Yes to the memoir.

William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on March 15, 2020:

I smell another memoir on the way. I think that's an excellent idea, too. Just curious, I wonder what would happen if it were told from Toby's and Maggie's point of view.

Ann Carr from SW England on March 13, 2020:

Intelligent, eh?!! Thanks for that, there are times when I wonder.

Sunshine in our hearts, indeed, bill.

May you have a week of sunshine outside and in!

Ann

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on March 13, 2020:

Dogs are the best. Absolute total unconditional love. We can learn a lot from them if we pay attention. And, yes, we need to be more in-tune with our fellow humans also. A smile and a warm greeting never hurt anyone. Enjoyed the time with you and the dogs, have a great day.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 13, 2020:

I love your honesty and your sense of humor, Vladimir....thank you for making me laugh this morning.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 13, 2020:

Honest comment, Rajan. Not everyone is a dog-person and I respect that.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on March 13, 2020:

I'm not much of a dog lover though have two of them presently, left here by my son who shifted to another state. Until he takes them back I am their caretaker, like it or not. I'd rather love them from afar.

Val Karas from Canada on March 12, 2020:

Bill -- With so much talk about dogs, I never had one, but as I visit people who have them, I quickly (re-)establish a great chemistry with them -- and I mean a loving one.

I might mention these two reasons for not having a dog. First one being that I am way too lazy to take care of it (or is it "him"). The second one is that, knowing myself, I would be overly heart-broken once when they get old and in pain.

Attached to this second reason -- is my funny memory of Tim Allen saying it on "Home Improvement" to his wife who had expressed a wish to have a dog:

"Come on, honey, not a dog! That's why we had kids, they last longer."

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 12, 2020:

Forget what I said about the weather, Zulma. Snow flurries predicted for Saturday morning here. Why not?

It is painful to lose a dog. I'm already hoping Maggie will outlive me. :) So I know where your husband is coming from, but all that love he's missing. How can he?

I know you'll win this one. Just be persistent!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 12, 2020:

Thank you Meg! I'm not big on needy dogs either. My son has one and she drives me crazy.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 12, 2020:

I'm with you on your comments, Mr. Happy. I just wish a majority of our species could live at a higher plain of existence on a more regular basis. Optimistic long-term? Sure, why not? :) Blessings my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 12, 2020:

Heidi, one never knows the impact they have on others. I listen when you "speak," my friend. It was a good idea and now my job is to live long enough to make it a reality.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 12, 2020:

MizB, I'm an introvert and proud of it. :) Card-carrying, flag-waving introvert. lol Welcome to the club,,my friend. Enjoy that weather. They are calling for snow flurries for us Saturday morning.

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on March 12, 2020:

Honestly, Bill, you're going to get me in hot water with these hubs.

The more I read, the more I miss having a dog in my life. My husband isn't so keen, though. Not that he dislikes animals, it's just that when his older brother talked their mother into getting a dog, (with the usual 'I promise to take real good care of him and walk him every day, pleeease), most of the grunt work fell on my husband. He doesn't want to end up in that situation again. (Also, I suspect he's doesn't want to deal with that eventual day when the pup takes his last walk across the rainbow bridge.) :(

Maybe, I'll just keep hanging out with you guys, instead.

Glad the weather is finally perking up for you. The days are getting longer and the daffodils are popping up. A sure harbinger that spring will be here soon. So looking forward to that.

Have a great day, Bill.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 12, 2020:

Thank you for always being so supportive, Denise! You are a breath of fresh air, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 12, 2020:

It really did feel great, Ruby!

We are two peas in a pod, my friend. I love being home and always will.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 12, 2020:

I totally agree, Flourish, and they are poorer for it.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 12, 2020:

Thank you Liz! Maggie and Toby greatly enjoyed your company.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 12, 2020:

I understand Brenda! I grew up in the friendliest neighborhood one can imagine. It's quite a shock to the system to see what it has all turned out to be fifty years later. Maybe one day our suspicions and fears will be gone, eh?

Or maybe not! lol

Thanks for joining us!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 12, 2020:

Inner sun for sure, Manatita! It must glow brightly and illuminate all around us. Just one more chore I have to complete today, eh? lol Psychologist to get you to buy more? Shame on them. :)

Blessings always my friend, and thank you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 12, 2020:

Thank you Pamela! I am fortunate to have these two dogs, and fortunate to have you as an online friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 12, 2020:

Since September, Ann? That's the kind of streak we have here. It's amazing we aren't all suicidal, my friend.

But there is sunshine in our hearts, eh? lol

Thanks for joining us, Ann! We appreciate having an intelligent human walking with us.

bill

DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on March 12, 2020:

A great story with two great dogs. We are looking after a dog at the minute and it doesn't act like a dog. It's so nervous, continually needs company and cries if left alone. Apparently it's a characteristic of the breed! I don't want to be like that but I'll take Toby-like or Maggie-like any time!

Mr. Happy from Toronto, Canada on March 11, 2020:

Thank You for sharing your thoughts on your walk.

"I just don’t have a terribly high opinion of my fellow man." - Me neither but it's not because man is somehow faulty. It is particularly because humans are incredible creatures. The things we do sometimes and have the potential to do, are mind-blowing. We are Gods of sorts: we give life, we take life, we create, etc.

For the most part though, we watch cat videos on Youtube and go to work robotically day after day, without thinking about the meaning of what we do, or the wide-spread consequences of what we do. We hardly think outside of our own, almost immediate, personal interests. Me, me, me and mine. It doesn't have to be this way. We make it this way. We always have choices.

I'm optimistic for the long term. For the short term ... haha!! I'm not saying anything more, least I give strength to nonsense.

You have a good one - cheers!

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on March 11, 2020:

Wow! I didn't know I had that much impact. But glad you're seriously considering a Maggie-based memoir. Also glad that Maggie and Tobias approve of the venture.

I never know what trips off their sniff sense. When triggered, both of my dogs will stop instantly, snoot to the winds, and figure it all out. Then I take it seriously and look around to see if there's something to notice. Been on higher alert in our neighborhood due to more frequent sightings of coyotes, even during the day. Usually, though, the coyotes are loners and ignore us, hot on their path to food or their dens.

Our boy, too, is more of a Gandhi. All of my female pups, past and present, have been less so. I say it's the motherly (or b**ch) instinct. Don't mess with mama!

Anyway, glad to be on another walk with your crew! I got my money all warmed up to buy the Maggie memoir.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on March 11, 2020:

Another great walk today with your furbabies. Yes, our domestic pets really have their own personalities just like humans do (so do our chickens, but that's another story). So you're an introvert, but it sounds like Bev makes up for it. I really enjoyed being an extrovert, but losing my thyroid changed all that. Now I'm the introvert. It does that to a person.

Too bad I don't have a dog. Today would have been a wonderful day to take one walking. So warm, and the sun kept peeking out.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on March 11, 2020:

I think a memoir from the point of view of walks with the dogs and the lessons learned is a genius idea. You certainly are entertaining and readable and I can relate these lessons to my own life as well. I'd buy it.

Blessings,

Denise

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on March 11, 2020:

It's amazing how much we have in common. I am much better at writing than socializing with others, in fact I can't wait to get home when I am forced to do activities with others. Now all of Hubville knows that I'm a loner and always have been. I enjoyed out walk today, esp. when Maggie was close to your face, and you felt like she knew you, and you had that special connection. I can imagine how great that felt.

FlourishAnyway from USA on March 11, 2020:

Bev sounds like a sweet soul. I enjoy hearing about your dogs. People who say animals have no feelings or thoughts have obviously never spent time with them.

Liz Westwood from UK on March 11, 2020:

Another interesting and thoughtful walk. I like the canine/human comparisons and character analysis. Great material for a memoir.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on March 11, 2020:

Such a nice write.

It would be grand if people were at least personable.

I don't see it happening. I remember in the little village I was raised in when I was younger how the people used to be.

Everyone was polite. Everyone knew everyone and took time out of each day to help one another.

This world has become bitter and cold. Neighbors are no longer friendly. I cannot run over to borrow a cup of sugar. Those days are gone.

I wish you a great time in the city. May you find some smiling faces.

manatita44 from london on March 11, 2020:

It's ok to be guarded, Bro. Us folks look after ourselves and we don't usually look out enough for others. So the Heart stifles … fights to grow.

At least here at Hub Pages, you serve in a very soulful way and reach many Hearts. The Divine always compensates!

Once again, we are very similar when it comes to chequers. A few can be pretty soulless, Bro. The Chains here in London employ psychologists, not for us but to see how we shop … to get more of our well-earned cash, but perhaps they help them. So more and more staff are increasingly nice. Only in my Chain store, though.

The dogs are very different. Maggie has her strengths and Tobby his. Perhaps Maggie is like you and Toby, Bev, He he. No bad thing!

Sun is always great for us but in the current climate, we need the 'Inner Sun' very badly, Bro. God bless you guys. Peace!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on March 11, 2020:

I am glad you are having some weather for walking that is not rain. Sping is on the way.

Tobie's enthusiasm is so typical of a young doy and Maggie is a faithful, loving dog that anyone would love to own. Your dogs sound like so much fun, even to observe their actions on your walks. I enjoyed the walk again and I love the dogs.

Ann Carr from SW England on March 11, 2020:

That would be a brilliant basis for a memoir, I think.

They said on the tv weather forecast yesterday that we'd had the first warm sunny day since mid-September. It feels more like a year ago!

Yes, that 6th sense that animals, especially dogs, have must be latent in humans, somewhere in our distant psyche. I'm sure with practice we could tune into it and wouldn't that be great!

Dogs have wonderful expressions and your Maggie obviously communicates well.

As always, I enjoyed this walk with you and your canine family; it's a privilege to tag along. Thanks, bill.

Ann

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 11, 2020:

Enjoy that rain, my friend. Listen to the rhythm of it, to borrow from an oldie but a goodie.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on March 11, 2020:

I could declare that I am just about knee high to my grasshopper son. I assume he has a good while to raise me. I settle in that I am like Bev and your rascal. I never did meet a feller i could not find somethin good about.

One man's garbage. We are hunkering down for another day of glorious rain here in the Southern Coastal Desert. HOW grand it is.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 11, 2020:

That is a priceless observation, my friend. Thank you for sharing that. Oh so true!

Val Karas from Canada on March 11, 2020:

Bill -- I joined you and dogs at your walk, you just didn't see me, it's O.K. Seeing your chemistry with them, it crossed my mind how some dogs are being belittled by being called "dogs" -- and at the same time I thought how some humans are overvalued by being called "humans".

But, well, let's not spoil this precious day by judging, right?

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 11, 2020:

Yes they do, Devika! Obviously you have experience and know what I feel on these walks.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 11, 2020:

That's okay, Shannon! I call Bev weird all the time. lol

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 11, 2020:

I enjoyed reading about your experiences it is a happy time and stress free too. Walks with dogs makes you feel free spirited and to have such wonderful times is worth a read from you.

Shannon Henry from Texas on March 11, 2020:

I'm sure that Bev is someone I would definitely like. Then again, you say everyone likes her, so there's no doubt that I would. LOL. But hugging is not a bad thing and I didn't call her weird for that. (She tells some really wild, out-there tales sometimes. LOL) It just doesn't come naturally to me to hug or touch everyone and anyone even though it's not that I don't care.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 11, 2020:

I hope you do, Becky! I think it's important for you...a good dog person should have a good dog. :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 11, 2020:

Peggy, I totally agree with you about people who abuse dogs. I will never understand that kind of evil.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 11, 2020:

Bev is like that,Shannon! She will hug anything that moves. lol Me, not so much. I love to hug, but I would never attempt to just hug a casual acquaintance. I want to, but no way it's happening. :)

Becky Katz from Hereford, AZ on March 11, 2020:

I had a dog with the sweetest eyes. They just beamed love out at us. He was also daddy's guard dog. He always placed himself between daddy and anyone he didn't know well. In our house, he laid in between them and when daddy went out in his electric chair, he was right there with him. I lost him a year after my husband died. I used to find him with his head on my husbands pillow.

Now I have to make do with my daughters dog. She follows me to bed, because my daughter moves too much in her sleep. The dog greets everyone with the attitude of how many belly rubs she is going to get. Only a 6 lb. dog, so I can't really expect much from her anyway. I really need to get a new dog. Maybe I will find one at the pound that has the soft eyes.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on March 11, 2020:

Your walks with Maggie and Toby are a joy to read. We have had many dogs, just like Toby, who never met a stranger. We also had a couple of dogs that were abused by people before they entered our life. They were cautious and even fearful of people at first. People who abuse dogs are subhuman, in my opinion!

I agree with you that dogs are sentient beings that are often better than many people, sad to say. If we had more people who were like your Toby, and our Kelly and Reggie, the world would be a better place! I vote "yes" to a book about walking with your dogs.

Shannon Henry from Texas on March 11, 2020:

You are so right, my friend. Genuine caring matters and so does trust. I think I can relate to what you are saying. I love the personal connections with people. The deepest ones are the most precious. Sometimes they are one-sided in that depth, but they help shape us as individuals, I think.

Now that said, I'm also not much of a people person. I am not a fan of crowds or being the center of attention to do anything like public speaking. I'm not saying I can't be personable, affable, great at customer service type of things. I'm just more likely to be found at home or hanging out with one friend at a time.

But here I am living in TX. LOL. Yesterday, I walked into the neighborhood store for one thing. In and right back out. I was in a bit of a hurry, but the "weird" cashier stopped me for a hug, as if I was a good friend she'd known for years. Never even talked to her outside that store. So I hesitated and then hugged so I wasn't rude. She said, "Don't worry, I don't have the Corona virus." That thought hadn't crossed my mind. I was just thinking how natural it is for some people to touch others and to hug no matter how well they know them. Personal bubble thoughts, I guess. LOL.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 11, 2020:

Linda, I hate Alzheimer's too. Insidious is the best word for it. I'm happy you enjoy these walks. We are moving the process to our neighborhood from now on. Too much building going on in the country. :) Ain't that just the way of it?

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on March 11, 2020:

Another book on the to-do list? That makes me happy because it means you won't be checking out of here any time soon.

I love these walks and because you share them with us once a week, I feel like I know Toby and Maggie although I've never met them in person.

I know what you mean about a dog having "people eyes." My best friend's dog, Hazel, has the most beautiful hazel-colored eyes. She adores her human probably as much as do I. She's good for him and helps keep him grounded. (Dear God I hate Alzheimer's.)

We're still in for some mighty cold nights, so stay well my friend. Toby and Maggie and Bev and I enjoy these walks and couldn't do them without you.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 11, 2020:

They do indeed, Raymond. Thanks for walking along with us.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 11, 2020:

Thank you Susan! I hope you didn't jinx us by mentioning the sunshine.

Raymond Philippe from The Netherlands on March 11, 2020:

The older we get the more we seem to value human decency.

Your dogs seem to have that in abundance.

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on March 11, 2020:

Oh Bill, a new book idea. Wonderful idea!

Happy to hear about the sunshine.