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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)