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Travels With Maggie: Adjusting

My dogs and me, we sure would love it if you could join us on a walk around the neighborhood - just friends walking with friends.

Are You Ready to Stretch Your Legs?

The dogs are chomping at the proverbial bit, so let’s do this. Thanks for joining us on our walk today. As always, the walk begins where the pavement ends and the wonder begins.

If you’ve been with us for awhile now, you know we began these walks at the goat farm owned by Bev’s oldest son and his wife, and we had a marvelous time out there before civilization caught up with us. New people moved onto that country lane, traffic increased, and eventually it became necessary to put the dogs on leashes where once they ran free.

If they had to be on leashes there was no sense in driving five miles for our walk, so now we walk around our neighborhood here in Olympia.

And that’s where we are today.

Shall we?



It Took Awhile

Running free one day, tethered to a leash the next, that kind of reality-shift requires some adjusting, you know? Well of course you do during these times of social distancing and reclusiveness. We are all learning what it’s like to have our wings clipped, our flights curtailed, and our movements restricted. Welcome to the world as seen by Maggie and Toby, our two Northwest Farm Terriers. I must say, to their credit, they adjusted fairly quickly, and a pat on their heads is their reward.

Me? Social distancing and lockdown are right in my wheelhouse, like a fastball grooved waist-high down the center of the plate. I’ve been doing this lockdown thing most of my life, truth be told. I’m a social-distancing kind of guy. Not that I’m not friendly, because I am. I will smile at people when they walk by us on these daily adventures. I will greet them with a “how ya doing” and a “enjoy your walk,” so it’s not like I’m anti-social or anything. But I am more comfortable in my own company, and the company of my dogs. To explain that would require a memoir, which I’ve written. I don’t plan on going over it all again while on this walk.

Anyway, Maggie and Toby don’t seem to mind the leashes, and I’m grateful for how quickly they adjusted to the tethering.

Toby ready for action

Toby ready for action

Siblings but Very Different

Same mother and father, different litters, about a year-and-a-half separate in age, Maggie and Toby are very different dogs.

Maggie is the oldest and the more cautious of the two. She does not warm up to strangers. She is not fond of any dog we may pass. When we see someone approaching us, I have to shorten her leash and talk to her until the stranger has passed. Otherwise she will begin a barking crusade, which sounds a bit menacing, until the perceived threat is gone. Toby, he’s never met a dog or human he didn’t instantly like. He does not bark at strangers. The only danger he presents is the possibility his wagging tail might somehow injure someone else.

Maggie is me. Toby is Bev, the human equivalent, my wife, friendliest and kindest person I’ve ever known.

It’s interesting, this difference in siblings. Same parents, same humans raising them, same environment, and yet surprisingly different in temperament.

Pretty much like us humans, you know? How many of you have siblings? I’ll bet it’s the same situation as I’ve described with Maggie and Toby, isn’t it? Unless you have a twin and then all bets are off. Twins are completely different, or so I’ve been told. Never really met one, but word has it . . .

A stroll around Olympia

A stroll around Olympia


I know nothing about the intellectual capacity of a squirrel’s brain, but I’m telling you, squirrels know when a dog is on a leash. THEY KNOW! And those little rodents are purposely disruptive. They will come down the trunk of a tree ten feet from us on our walk, quite secure in the knowledge they can’t be touched. Toby goes bonkers. He may like humans and other dogs, but squirrels are his nemesis. He damned near yanks the leash out of my hand lunging for those little buggers. I tug him back to reality as the squirrels chitter, most definitely squirrel laughter.

Maggie? She doesn’t much care about squirrels. She’ll look at them, sniff the air, and then return to the walk nonplussed. Why one dog and not the other? Weird, me thinks, but then I think back to my parents, closet racists both, and how they were fine with certain humans and not fine with others, and the reasons for that will be buried with them forever.

And, if I’m being completely honest, I’m that way as well, but not in a racist sort of way. I make instant judgements about people, first impressions if you like. I’m not sure why that is, but within a couple minutes of meeting someone I have decided whether I like them or not. They literally have two minutes to present me with evidence that they are worth my time or not, and how uncool is that? And you would think I would have learned by now, because I’ve been wrong quite a few times over the years, quite a few times, and that’s more than embarrassing for this self-proclaimed enlightened one.

And come on, folks, we all do it, am I right? We have elections coming up in about six months, and we will literally cast our vote for people we have never actually met, even less than the two minutes I give people in face-to-face meetings, we judge, all of us, and we cast our vote on nothing more than a soundbite, a political stance, and we hope for the best.

Maybe Maggie and Toby are more advanced than we humans?

Just random thoughts as we walk down Bethel and turn onto Central.

Perfect in so Many Ways

Seventy degrees on this day, azaleas and rhodies still in bloom, daffodils for our pleasure, and California Poppies sprinkling orange across the landscape, a gentle breeze, whispering of tranquility, whispering of hope, telling all who will listen that this too shall pass, that hard times are only reminders to appreciate the good times when they are upon us, take nothing for granted, that life really is good and beats the hell out of the alternative.

What more could please the soul than to walk free and know no superior, words of a long-ago poet echoing in my head, and I say them out loud and Maggie looks at me, wags her tail, and waits for the treat and pat on the head. Toby, he don’t much care about poets, another squirrel has his attention, what he would do with it if he ever caught it is a matter for conjecture, a matter for another day, another walk, another respite from the doom and gloom of the news and social media.

The Future?

I envy Maggie and Toby. They have no concept of the future. Truthfully they have no concept of the world outside of our neighborhood. The word virus means nothing to them. The word depression, nada. The words economic downturn, system collapse, public assistance and food lines, meaningless to my dogs. Their world consists of the two humans they love, food, these walks, and squirrels. They are raised with love, so angst does not exist. They are untouched by bias and hate and prejudice and pre-conceived notions based on falsehoods.

They simply love and play and sleep.

Not a bad way to live, if you were to ask me. Not a bad way to live at all.

Hey, thanks a bunch for joining us. I was thrilled that Maggie warmed up to you so quickly, and I’m thankful Toby’s tail didn’t bruise your legs.

Join us again sometime? We’d love it if you did. You know where to find us. Look for the end of the pavement and the beginning of the wonder.


2020 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

H.O.W. Humanity One World