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Travels With Maggie: In Search of Commonalities

You Know How This Works

It’s really very simple, my friends. Each day my dogs and I go for a walk. I call it “Travels With Maggie” but in truth, Toby joins us as well, for he will not be denied when leashes come out from the drawer.

We walk to the end of the driveway, to that magical point where the pavement ends and the wonders begin, and that’s where you’ll find us each morning, eleven a.m., rain or shine!

We are so happy you joined us today. Shall we begin?

Maggie and Toby are ready!

Maggie and Toby are ready!

Crisp Morning

“Frost on the rotting pumpkins” chilly this morning, twenty-eight as a matter of fact, the ground crunches beneath our feet, Bev joining us. This being a Saturday, the dogs are in for a special treat. Every Saturday and Sunday we switch things up a bit. A half-mile from our home is the site of a demolished school, about two acres total, maybe three, a huge area fenced off, under partial clearing/construction, and the locals have discovered it and turned it into an impromptu dog park. Weekend mornings, around 8:30 usually, between five and ten dog-owners show up with their mutts, release them from their leashes, and turn them loose to play while the owners visit with neighbors and new friends.

The dogs get a ton of exercise, and it’s a nice break from the normal walks through the neighborhood, so it’s a classic win-win situation for all concerned.

We arrived that particular morning and five cars were already in the parking lot. Toby was beside himself with excitement, for he knows his opportunity to run free, sans leash, has arrived. Maggie is always a bit more reserved, but her wagging tail tells us she, in her own way, is pumped and ready to run.

Our breaths plume as we exit the car, the sky is robin’s egg blue, puffy white clouds form shapes overhead, an angel, a shark, battleship and arrow, and the wind holds its breath as we walk the short distance to what was once a vibrant playground full of little children.

We turn our “kids” loose!

Adventure awaits!

Adventure awaits!

Shot out of a Cannon

Toby is like a scud missile, seeking heat signals, as soon as the leash is taken from him. His excitement is palpable, his glee infectious, a big kid turned loose in a candy store, bouncing from dog to dog to dog, sniffing each, leaping, wrestling, all in good fun, no malice whatsoever, and barely thirty seconds have passed and Bev and I are laughing out loud at his antics.

Maggie, she’s a bit more reserved, but our “old lady” can’t restrain herself. She follows her brother, slower, a bit more cautious, but still her tail announces her excitement, and she soon joins in the unbridled fun.

Within a half-hour there are thirteen dogs total, all manner of breeds and sizes and shapes, purebreds and mutts, males and females, pups and oldsters, all playing, all agreeing, without saying a word, to a non-aggression pact, all communicating silently, and it’s pretty cool to watch. Some don’t want to play, and they let the others know immediately. Some think the play is too rough, and they communicate that as well. Toby is a blur, running all over that vast expanse, from one dog to another, looking for new adventures. Maggie, she always keeps us in sight, playing for a few but then looking back to see where we are, our girl, and we her people, and it warms my heart to see how much she cares about us. She has fun, make no mistake about it, but what is really important to Maggie is the time spent with us, no matter the locale.

Heading back home!

Heading back home!

Meanwhile, on the Human Side

We all know first names, and we greet each other as we arrive, standing around in circles, six feet apart, thank you COVID, and we laugh at our dogs and catch up on the weekly events. I can’t say these are close friends, but they are good people, and I find myself looking forward to these impromptu visits. Ciara and Patti and Thomas are there, as are Pete and Mia and Joan. I don’t know the other names, but I’ll learn them eventually.

I have no clue if any of them are Democrats or Republicans. I don’t know how they feel about abortion or free college tuition or gun rights. Those types of discussions are silently restricted during these meetings. What is important, to us, is that we give our dogs a chance to play, and in the process we are able to have human contact during these strange pandemic days.

The sun rises slightly higher in the east as I reflect on that last point for a moment. I have no doubt that, if I had a medical emergency during one of those visits, my casual dog-loving friends would help me. I have no doubt if we had a flat tire, or needed the battery “jumped,” that one of them would offer to assist. And I think the same is true of our neighbors back at home. When there is a problem, and when someone needs assistance, none of that superficial crap like political affiliations or political issues are important. It boils down to humans helping humans, period, end of story, and that seems like such an important point to understand. I think of all the time I spend on Facebook, and all the vitriol I witness there, and it’s all just so much wasted time and wasted effort and wasted emotion.

What really matters is humans helping humans!

The dogs understand this instinctively. We humans take a little more schooling at times.

Forty-Five Minutes Pass

In the proverbial blink of an eye forty-five minutes are gone, the dogs wind down, like some four-legged toys we wound up as kids. They are at our sides, tongues lagging, looking for treats, and the sun has risen high enough now to take most of the chill from the air. It’s time to return home, get the day started, chores and errands and enjoying the day, little moments, ah-ha moments, moments of seemingly zero importance, and yet those are the ones which will stick in the memory banks, awaiting recall when I’m an old man unable to continue with these walks.

I park the car in the driveway, where the wonders end and the pavement begins, and we enter our home. I’ll start a fire in the woodstove that morning, and Bev and I will kill some time, relaxing, chatting, not terribly important items of conversation, and yet such wonderful memories when I am an old man, with nothing left but those memories.

I watch the flames grow and add a larger piece of wood. I think about social media and the insistence so many have to be blatantly nasty to complete strangers, flesh and blood strangers, people with families, people with friends, people who are just working hard, making ends meet, and fighting the good fight, day in and day out, and I think about how unbelievably easy it would be to get along with each other if we only had the willingness to do so, if we swallowed our egos and our insistence to be RIGHT, and just accepted people as being different and yet so very much the same.

Anyway, random thoughts after quality time with the dogs and Bev. Thanks so much for joining us. You are always welcome.

2020 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 27, 2020:

I'm happy to hear that, Devika! Thank you, and Happy New Year to you!

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on December 27, 2020:

Bill your hubs are great indeed! Through your travels with Maggie and the messages you send across to us is just the best.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 21, 2020:

Thank you, Lora, and Merry Christmas to you. I hope you write a new article soon so I can comment on it. It's impossible to go back and comment on any old articles of yours, and that is aggravating.

Lora Hollings on December 20, 2020:

Once again, I enjoyed your wonderful reflections about your neighbors, the people you have met at the dog park and your thoughts about what we all have in common. It seems that dogs intuitively understand what eludes many humans! We could all learn from them about setting differences aside and just having a good time. Merry Christmas to you!

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

Jo, the fact that you are your husbands can flourish in Tennessee is proof positive that commonalities count. Well done, you, and Merry Christmas to you and yours.

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

Bill, there are many a day when I like my dogs more than the humans I meet. :) I don't think that's odd at all. Dogs don't judge. Dogs are loyal. What's not to love about that, my friend?

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Jo Miller from Tennessee on December 17, 2020:

Loved this, Bill. My husband and I are liberal Democrats who moved to a blood red rural area of the South after our retirement. We love the natural area. We love living here. No regrets, but we've had to adjust some of our emotional muscles. Probably something we needed to do. If we overlook the Confederate flags, stay away from political discussions, we can find commonality.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on December 17, 2020:

Hi Bill. I’ve always thought that humans could learn a thing or two from dogs. I’m not sure there are any perfect creatures on this planet, but dogs come pretty darn close. I’ve always said, half joking - half not, that I like dogs better than most humans. Thanks for the walk, have a great weekend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 17, 2020:

I appreciate that, MG! Thanks for the kind words, and Happy Holiday to you and blessings always.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 17, 2020:

Becky, having a good mice hunter is very important out in the country. Our cat does the job here, but occasionally Toby will grab one as well, and then it becomes a toy for him. :) Happy Holidays to you and your family.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 17, 2020:

It really is, Meg! I find myself looking forward to those walks and that interaction.

Happy Holidays to you and yours in Ireland!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 17, 2020:

I think it might be time, John! Where else can we find the kind of loyalty a dog can give us?

Happy Holidays, my friend, and thank you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 17, 2020:

Powerful statement there, Denise. I agree with you completely. My dogs think I walk on water. If only it were so.

Be well, my friend!


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 17, 2020:

I will go find it, Manatita. Thanks for the heads-up! Happy Holidays, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 17, 2020:

Thank you Rasma! There are many days when I swear, my dogs keep me sane. :)

MG Singh emge from Singapore on December 16, 2020:

You have the knack of making mundane events interesting and exciting. So well written. Reminds when I take my dog for a walk.

Becky Katz from Hereford, AZ on December 16, 2020:

I enjoyed your excursion. I have a 3 acre back yard, and it is fenced. I left some of it long when I cut it and piled some tree branches at the back of it, for the bunnies and other wildlife to hide in. My sons dog is a hunter and the bunnies get excited yips and bounding through the back yard. He doesn't catch many, because of all the brush blinds I have put out for them. Our little 6 pound dog is smaller than the bunnies, but she is a demon with the lizards and horned toads. I try to keep her from hunting them, but the mice out there are fair game. Every Fall, those things want to come inside to live and it takes a month or two to get them gone.

DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on December 16, 2020:

Great to have a dog park and regulars to meet.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on December 16, 2020:

That improvised dog park/lead free zone sounds wonderful for Maggie and Toby, as well as some pleasant human interaction, Bill. Oh, how much we humans can learn from dogs. I don’t have any dogs left at the moment unfortunately, as Omo our old Maltese had kidney failure and had to be put to sleep a couple of months back.

I look back at some of the Cackleberry Farm hubs and the pics of my walks through the bush and to the mailbox walks with my old dog Coco, who we raised from a pup, with fondness. It may almost be time to look for another dog. Thanks Bill.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on December 16, 2020:

I think it is one of those "understood" points that people with the love of a dog must be "okay" people. If only we could live up to the opinion our dogs had of us, wouldn't it be a great world?



manatita44 from london on December 16, 2020:

As always, lovely to walk with you and your dogs, exchanging deep and reflective pieces in our Hearts; striving to Love and wondering what this human tug-of-war is all about. An interesting play, is this. Much Love, Bro.

P.S Have written the piece inspired by Artistry With Words. Let's see what happens.

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

Linda, I just wish people could learn to live in peace, and let love guide their actions. It seems so simple to me.

Merry Christmas, dear friend!

Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on December 16, 2020:

Thank you for taking me along on your walk. I have had walks where my thoughts are so deep that suddenly I look up and I wonder where I am. If I had a dog he would surely show me the way.

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

I'm jealous, Ruby, of your snow. So far we haven't seen any, other than up in the mountains thirty miles away. Hopefully soon for us.

Thank you for the compliment, my friend, and Happy Holidays to you.

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

Well, Mary, any old time you want to experience having a dog, you are encouraged to come to Olympia and walk mine. :) Thanks my friend.

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

Umesh, thanks so much!

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

I'm glad, Cynthia! It's very nice, having you join us. Thanks so much.

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

Thank you Rosina! Let's do it again soon, okay?

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on December 16, 2020:

Bill, I always enjoy these walks, but this one seems particularly sweet with a touch of melancholy.

"Humans helping humans" with no concern about political persuasion. If only our representatives in the other Washington could do that.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on December 16, 2020:

We have our first snow this morning and it's beautiful! I so very much agree with your thoughts on living. Politics, at one time were very important to me, but now, I think more deeply. We live in a world riddled with hate, people go out of their way to be nasty, esp. on Facebook, I rarely go there anymore. I enjoyed watching the Doggies play and greet their friends. You have the ability to write in such a manner that we see the movement you're writing about. Thanks for sharing.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on December 16, 2020:

Hi Bill. You always make me wish I have a dog with these walks you have, but for now, it is good that I have my friend, Lily, waiting for me when I get back to the cottage and my first great-grandchild, Stevie, who comes and visits. These two dogs give me joy. As I read this, I thought of my friend, a Trump fan, and how we avoid talking about it. We are different in many things even if we grew up together, and we accept that.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on December 16, 2020:

Very well narrated. Enjoyed reading.

Cynthia Zirkwitz from Vancouver Island, Canada on December 16, 2020:

I do love these walks with you and your dogs!

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

I really do, Peggy! It seems so simple to me, getting along with people.

Come to think of it, I've never seen a dog fight either at a dog park. How strange that is, don't you think? Hmmmm!

Have a wonderful Wednesday and thank you!

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

Ann, I share your thoughts about Zoom. I just can't embrace it. It all seems so contrived to me, plus I'm uncomfortable "on camera." LOL Oh well, this pandemic has to end sooner or later, right? Right???

Take care, my friend, and thank you for joining us.


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

And we were delighted to have you with us, Pamela. Thanks for joining us. I think I need to go make some friends. I spend far too much time talking to the dogs.

Rosina S Khan on December 16, 2020:

It was nice joining you in your walk with the dogs. It was nice to watch them play with other dogs at the dog park.

Yes, instead of political affiliations or political issues, what really matters in the end is humans helping humans. I totally agree.

I look forward to your next walk with the dogs. Happy Wednesday, Bill.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on December 16, 2020:

We have experienced the same thing in dog parks. All the people there seem to be friendly, and the dogs have fun in their own way. Our Skippy was always eager to go, kept a watch on us, did not wish to interact with the other dogs, but got to release some energy. He was then ready to go back home and relax. Other dogs would romp and play with one another.

I guess dogs are like people in that respect. Some are more outgoing, and others are reserved. We have never seen a dog fight take place in any of the parks we have visited. Don't you wish people could act more like our dogs?

Ann Carr from SW England on December 16, 2020:

What a lovely walk and play, bill! I found the sense of fun infectious and wanted to join in.

I belong to a book club and our meetings haven't happened since March. The books are almost incidental, as we spend about 10 minutes or so on them, then go on to the much more important chats about anything and everything. It's a little community that means so much to each and every member and we're all missing it. Yes, we have zoom if we want to (I don't) and we have email and phone chats but it's not the same as 'real' meetings, over a pub lunch or maybe at someone's house. I long for that to return. There's so much more communication when you can properly read people's interactions and see the whole body-language thing and feel the atmosphere. It's 3D life!

Once more, you have taken us for a wonderful walk and given us some fresh air. Thanks so much, bill!


Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on December 16, 2020:

I thoroughly enjoyed the walk to the dog park, Bill. It seem Maggie is a lady, while Toby is an active teenage boy (I raised 3 boys).

Your discription of the people in the park reminds me of my women's club. I love to chat with the ladies, don't know them real well and we do not talk politics.

This is a lovely article that describs a wonderful Saturday. I was delighted to walk with you and Bev.

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