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Travels With Maggie: Looking Back Sixty-Seven Years

Welcome Back to the Edge of the Driveway

You know how this works if you’ve walked with us before, “us” being me and Maggie, or Toby, my two Northwest Farm Terriers. We go for a walk daily, one mile each, throughout our neighborhood. We begin each walk at the edge of our driveway, where the pavement ends and the wonders begin.

Thank you for joining us today. Let’s take a walk back in time, back sixty-seven years, to 1953.

We moved, my family and I, in 1953, from a small rental to our first and only family-owned home, 4022 North 18th Street, Tacoma, Washington, a post-war, brick, two-story dwelling in a brand-new neighborhood. When we arrived there the streets were still dirt, the lots still dirt, no landscaping, no vegetation, the homes standing like lone sentinels on a barren landscape, a moonscape, not a welcome sight for my five-year old self. I had left a handful of good friends, fun friends, the only friends I knew at that time, and I then found myself in a strange location seemingly empty of warmth and companionship.

I remember being quite sad that summer, and I suspect my parents clued into my sadness because one day, as I was sitting in the backyard feeling so very sorry for myself, my mom and dad joined me and handed me a box, and inside that box was a puppy, a Fox Terrier puppy, not much bigger than my two hands held together, a squirming, licking, bundle of loving companionship.

I named that puppy Pixie, and for the next twenty years we were the best of buddies.

My childhood home

My childhood home

Everywhere I Went

There was an old song from the 70’s, by Harry Nilsson, called “Me and My Arrow,” and the lyrics went something like this:

“Me and my Arrow
straighter than narrow
where ever we go
everyone knows
it's me and my Arrow”

And that’s what it was like with me and my Pixie. We were inseparable during my childhood. Pixie would follow me everywhere during the day, and at night sit in my lap while I did homework or watched television, and when my eye lids grew heavy, she would sleep on my bed with me, a constant, for me, in an ever-changing world, a solid buddy for a quiet, lonely child.

I loved that little dog, and when, during her twentieth year, she had a stroke and I had to have the vet put her down, I held her, told her I loved her, and thanked her for twenty years of unbridled loyalty and joy.

That’s How It Is With Maggie and Toby

I had forgotten the pure joy of having a dog like that until Maggie joined us three years ago and, a year after that, Toby. They are Pixie reincarnate, my constant companions, my buddies, and I can’t imagine what life would look like without them.

I talk to Maggie and Toby during our walks. I admit it, lock me up, toss away the key, I’m that old man, the one with lips moving during walks, the only possible recipients of my words my two dogs, and I have no doubt people look at me, as we pass by, and wonder just how far removed I am from a state institution with padded surfaces and spoon-fed meals of pudding and strained peas.

Maggie is the quiet one, the shy one, the introvert, the one most likely to put her head in my lap and look at me with loving eyes. Toby is in-your-face fun, a bouncy, flouncy, furry bundle of adventure and reckless abandon, always ready for a game of toss-the-ball, nudging me with his nose, spurring me on to get off my butt and take part in his latest hairbrained game.

Maggie will go anywhere with me in the truck. She is a road-trip junkie. Toby, he’s not too fond of the monster with wheels, but grab his leash, hint at a walk, and he’s all over that like flies on poop.

I clean the house and they are underfoot. I do yardwork and they are underfoot. I sit on the porch and relax and Maggie lays down on my left side and Toby on my right, occasionally looking up at me, with loving eyes, reminding me of Pixie long ago, reminding me that the true joys of life arrive, often, without the bells and whistles of a marketing campaign, but rather with sublime subtleness.

Always ready for a walk

Always ready for a walk

Different and yet the Same

They are Yin and Yang, two sides of the same coin, my two sibling companions. Maggie avoids attention, bristling when strangers approach, on guard constantly against the invasion of unvetted, uninvited company. Toby has never met a human he didn’t like, instantly trusting, instantly inviting, and yet he moves like a coiled predator, like he’s one evolutionary link away from attack mode.

They are much like me, quite frankly, two sides of their owner, reflections of the complicated intricacies of all beings. I am inviting and yet guarded. I am friendly and yet distant. I will reach one hand out for a handshake and keep the other clenched in a fist. I am fully aware of how strange that is but, God bless them, Maggie and Toby understand.

Perhaps we are all like that.

Perhaps not!

Let's see where that road takes us!

Let's see where that road takes us!

The Walk Continues

And so we continue on our one-mile stroll, first Maggie, seniority counting in our household, and then Toby. We walk by the young family building a shed, Dad up on top, working on the trusses, Mom and kids down below, handing materials up to him, cheering him on. We walk by Betty, working on her flowerbeds, the petunias getting leggy now in the late summer, the California poppies losing their luster. We walk by Gus, Vietnam vet, mowing his lawn, saluting as we pass by, always saluting, “Semper Fi” he says, a VFW baseball hat on his bald dome, six months in Chu Lai a weight he’ll forever carry in his rucksack. Pete, the Aussie, transplanted from far away, jogs by, little dog in tow, waves, says “Good day, mate,” mostly because he knows I love Aussie talk. Miss Daisy, that’s what I call her, eighty or more, pink scarf over her face, shuffles in our direction, holds out her frail hand, Toby sniffs, wags his tail, she thanks us for the joyful moment, literally thanks us for the joy we’ve given her, and shuffles off.

All is well in our neighborhood, as it was back in 1953, Pixie by my side, and I’m struck with the similarities, so many years passed and yet it seems like time stood still, just a kid and his dog, just an old man and his dogs, walking through a slice of Americana, different homes, different clothes, different people, and yet the same, you know?

And that thought brings me peace of mind!

Late August, slowly transitioning into September, summer waning, fall arriving, another year about to succumb, a new one to follow, and so it goes, metaphors abound as I move forward, always forward, into the unknown and yet oddly familiar tomorrows. Life is good now, with my two dogs, as it was in ’53, with Pixie, just a regular guy, a regular dog, or two, surrounded by the sights and sounds of life.

Surrounded by unlimited wonders, at the edge of the pavement, awaiting us all.

Thanks for joining us today. You’re always welcome. You just need to be willing to suspend reality for a short while and embrace the magical.

2020 William D. Holland

Where I grew up

Comments

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 10, 2020:

94 today, Zulma, and then some blessed cooling on the way. It will be in the 70's by next week, praise God! Look at that, it's so hot I'm turning religious. lol

Happy Thursday, Zulma!

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on September 10, 2020:

Hi, Bill.

I'm going to assume you're referring to the temperature, not the decade. lol My sympathies. We're having a bit of an Indian summer but not nearly that hot.

As for Striker, (sigh) I suppose it's inevitable that the creation eventually turns on it's the creator. (thinking of Frankenstein here)

Have a good day, Bill, and stay cool.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 08, 2020:

Is that who sang that song, Zulma? I know it was a one-hit wonder, but I had forgotten the actual artist. Thanks for that.

The 90's have returned! Just shoot me! Oh, never mind, Striker will be happy to do that for me.

Happy Tuesday, Zulma! Stay safe!

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on September 08, 2020:

Napoleon XVI, right? I haven't heard that song for decades.

As for Striker, you're right. What was I thinking? lol

Have a good day, Bill.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 07, 2020:

Thank you Sha! I'm finishing up with a couple customers and then I'll enjoy the rest of Labor Day with Bev, since she has today off from work.

You too . . . enjoy your day off, and be well.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 07, 2020:

You are very kind, Dora! As for knowing them so well, my goodness, I spend more time with them than with my wife. I should know them well! lol

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 07, 2020:

You just reminded me of that old song "They're coming to take me away," Zulma! lol Striker worried about a face mask is a funny thought. Which is deadlier, the virus or Striker? Now there's a question to ponder, eh?

Happy Monday, Zulma!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 07, 2020:

Thank you for joining us, Brenda! The weather was perfect for a stroll, and your company was an added bonus. Join us any old time you can find the time.

Blessings always

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 07, 2020:

Hi Genna! It's so good to see you back with us. 50 hour weeks, my friend? You shame me. lol Take care of yourself, please, and find time to relax.

And thank you for the kind words about my book. I love writing that series. The characters have become good friends of mine, and I love writing about good vs evil, my favorite topic.

Be well, my friend!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 07, 2020:

I will indeed, EK! Thanks for walking along with us.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 07, 2020:

I'm with you, Denise. I wouldn't have a clue what to feed a pill bug. Now you've perked my curiosity. I'll have to Google and find out.

Thanks as always! Have a wonderful Monday.

Blessings always

bill

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on September 07, 2020:

Bill, I so enjoyed this journey connecting present to past and a glimpse at Tacoma. What a beautiful town! It seems the modern world hasn't infiltrated. I love the architecture and landscape. So pretty!

Toby and Maggie are a blessing to your life and you to theirs. The joy and love you share is what life's all about.

I hope you had a nice Labor Day weekend, my friend! See you in the mailbag.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on September 07, 2020:

Bill, I always enjoy walking with you and your dogs. I'm impressed by how well you know them and the differences between them. I also believe that their good nature developed from your loving, gentle , caring way of dealing with them.

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on September 07, 2020:

I have to ask, Bill. In light of current events, is Striker wearing a face mask when he's out and about? It would certainly make it easier for him to remain unnoticed as no one could describe what he looks like. Unless he wore one that matched his outer persona. Maybe black with

a design like bared teeth similar to a rottweiler.

Oh God, I'm losing my mind.

Have a great day, Bill.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on September 06, 2020:

Bill,

I enjoyed my walk with you, Maggie & Toby today.

It felt great to relax and enjoy the view of life from someone else.

Our pets do seem to remind us of ones that have passed on before them. I am constantly remembering moments that enlighten my soul.

Animals or I should say...our best friends seem to understand us better than we do ourselves. Even at times knowing when we are ill.

They bring such joy and peace to one's life.

I hope you continue your daily walks realizing how precious those moments are in life.

Thanks for sharing.

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on September 06, 2020:

Hi Bill...

I loved this. (After months of working 50 hours a week, I needed my Travels With Maggie fix, and moments to "embrace the magical.")

That darling Pixie lived for 20 years was a blessing, and no doubt reflected the love that you both shared. And I love how Sis and Bro have such distinctly different personalities -- two sides of that same, blessed coin.

The seasons are shifting yet again, with promises that and open and close in a never-ending cycle that moves us forward, reminding us how far we've come in this amazing life. :-)

By the way, I finished reading 'The Magician's Shadow (The Shadow Series).' Loved it...wonderful storytelling. Without giving too much away in terms of spoilers, while reading, I kept wondering how one could thwart and penalize Evil -- if only for a while. Deprive it of exactly what, and how, it seeks. Brilliant writing, Bill! Can't wait to read the sequel.

EK Jadoon from Abbottabad Pakistan on September 06, 2020:

I think Maggie and Toby are wonderful companions. In this time of chaos, it's a blessing that you have a wonderful company. And they are much batter companions than selfish human beings (but some, not all). Keep enjoying it.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on September 06, 2020:

Thanks for the sights and the memory of Pixie. It was a lovely memory. We were surrounded by animals (horses, cats, dogs) but I wanted my own pet and my parents refused. So in spite, I went out with a mason jar and gather some pill bugs that I announced were my pets. When I got no reaction, I was disappointed. In my room with my pill bugs, I realized I didn't know what pill bugs ate. I tried to keep them alive by giving them lettuce and carrot peelings but after two weeks they died. Years later I found out that I had made more of an impact than I thought with my pill bugs. My mom still brings it up from time to time that I had pill bugs for pets.

Blessings,

Denise

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

Thank you Nithya! It was especially terrible because my father had died six months earlier. I was terribly sad for about a year.

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

I completely agree, Rajan! I am one lucky man.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on September 05, 2020:

I enjoyed the magical walk, it must have been terrible to put down Pixie. Now you have Maggie and Toby who follow you at all times with love and devotion. Thank you for the wonderful walk and for sharing your thoughts with us.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on September 04, 2020:

Life has given you wonderful companions and wonderful memories to live with. How very lucky.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 04, 2020:

Great memories, Eric. Do you have a dog now? I don't remember ever reading about a family dog in your household.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 04, 2020:

Thank you Peg! I get all misty-eyed, at times, spending time with these two dogs. They give unconditional love, and that is a priceless gift.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 04, 2020:

I agree with you about the responsibility, Devika. Thankfully I'm in a position where I can take the time to raise these two dogs properly. I hope you can have a dog in the near future.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 04, 2020:

Thank you Linda! It really was remarkable that Pixie lived that long. I hope Maggie and Toby can give us ten good years. I would be happy with ten; anything more would be a bonus. Hopefully they outlive me.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 04, 2020:

Thank you Jo! I'm so happy we picked up these two dogs. They are a great joy for us.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 04, 2020:

Linda, thanks for sharing that. I love that you named the new dog "Spooky." It's fitting, you know, a nice connection to your childhood, and I understand it completely.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on September 04, 2020:

Had to think on this for a day. For me, really deep stuff. I was called "youngest of seven" until around my 14th birthday as our dog was two years older than I, with 6 children. Talk about a best friend. Sophie just adored our mailman Joe for as many years.

Peg Cole from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on September 04, 2020:

A magical and mystical journey that I was privileged to join, thank you, Bill, for the trip down memory lane this morning. Loved the descriptions of the neighbors, their activities, their quirks and their joys. What a beautiful trip. Maggie and Toby and their duplicity, changing moment to moment from snoopy goofs into "coiled predators." Yes, my two are like that as well, and give unending joy without expectations. Loved this.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on September 03, 2020:

Hi Bill I had dogs in my life since I was 10 years and I lost my first dog by a negligent driver, and didn't want to get another dog. I got two dogs sometime in the nineties and it lasted until we left South Africa to move to Croatia. Glad you have such great experiences to share about your dogs and yourself. It is interesting to know how you send your time at leisure. I do not have pets at the moment time is of the essence. It is a responsibility and I can't do that unless I am someday retired.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 03, 2020:

Thank you Zulma! I don't know about you, but I'm good and tired of this new reality. It's not that my life has changed all that much, but it's just the undercurrent of foreboding that is with us always. We need to find our way out of this swamp soon.

Happy Thursday, my friend! And now, back to Striker!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 03, 2020:

I am in complete agreement with you, Bill! Every child should experience the companionship of a dog.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 03, 2020:

Thank you John! It sounds like you know exactly what I'm getting at with these stories. Dogs are wonderful!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 03, 2020:

It really is amazing, Flourish, that I had Pixie that long. She was solid comfort for a boy trying to find his way in life.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 03, 2020:

Thank you Pamela and yes, twenty years is the upper limits for a dog, me thinks. I was a lucky boy.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 03, 2020:

Thank you MG! I'm happy you could join us.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 03, 2020:

Ann, I think we all could use with a dose of suspended reality. I've grown weary of the "new normal."

As for dogs, my goodness, is there a more loyal creature on this planet? I think not!

Be well, my friend, and stay dry. We are having our last heat wave before Fall dampens our spirits.

bill

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 03, 2020:

Oh Marlene, I can't imagine living in the country without dogs. Please get that fence up soon, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 03, 2020:

I love the name, Nell! It's a perfect name for a dog and I remember well those old cartoons.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 03, 2020:

Your childhood sounds similar to mine, Peggy, and yes, it was a good one.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 03, 2020:

It would be a sweet world to live in, Linda. I sure wish it would happen, but man being what he is, I sadly doubt it. :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 03, 2020:

Thank you for joining us, Rosina! You are always a welcomed addition to our walking group.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 03, 2020:

Literally it is a workaround, Heidi. I totally agree. Perfection in cleaning simply will not happen in a house with dogs.

Thanks for coming along with us.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 03, 2020:

I like that, Mary, her witching hour. That's a perfect description. Thanks for sharing that, my friend.

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on September 03, 2020:

How I look forward to these walks. They're such a welcome distraction from our new reality; a reality I don't understand and am unsure how to negotiate.

Pixie sounds like the best dog ever. I'm glad her spirit is alive and well in your new kids.

Have a fab day, Bill.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on September 02, 2020:

Dogs can be wonderful companions. I wish the dogs in my life had lived to be twenty like Pixie. I'm glad you have Maggie and Toby in your life today.

Jo Grace from USA Kentucky on September 02, 2020:

Dogs make life stress and major changes in ones life, so much easier to handle. Enjoyed so much reading your walk.

Linda Rogers from Minnesota on September 02, 2020:

Hi Bill-I loved hearing about your childhood dog. God Bless your parents knowing you were having a tough time with the move. Your walks with Maggie & now Toby, are so relaxing & healing for me. Like you said, it's the simple & everyday things that can make us happy. I too have fond memories of my childhood dog, 'Spooky' & now as an adult in my 50's, I have a dog we adopted at the Humane Society because she looks just like my childhood dog. Guess what we named her? Your right if you said 'Spooky'. Glad we are both reliving our youth with our furry best friends.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on September 02, 2020:

Nice walk today, Bill. It’s wonderful that you had a dog as a kid and now again later in life with Maggie and Toby. I think every kid should have the experience of growing up with a dog.

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on September 02, 2020:

I love dogs. My first childhood friend was Skippy, a collie. I remember I used to lie with my head on his tummy as we dozed off together. He was so loyal, as collies are, and fiercely protective of need be.

The dog I was closest to after that was Coco, a kelpie x staffy that I had by my side for 13 years until early last year. It was a sad day when she passed.

I enjoyed this walk today, Bill, and the memories. Thanks for the invite.

FlourishAnyway from USA on September 02, 2020:

That childhood dog of yours was sure long in the tooth. My childhood cat lived to 23. She was old, very creaky and scraggly, moved to so many states with the family, survived a house fire and several additional cats over the years but was a real angel.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on September 02, 2020:

This walk with Maggie and Toby was wonderful. Those two dogs are precious, and I understand your love for them. The memories of Pixie were also delightful. A boy and his dog heals sadness for sure. Twenty years is a long time for a dog to live.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on September 02, 2020:

A fascinating walk down memory lane. Very interesting.

Ann Carr from SW England on September 02, 2020:

I'm all for suspending reality and embracing the magical, bill! Your walks are always magical and this is a charming walk down memory lane. I've had dogs and they are so loyal aren't they? Companionship and love is what they do well.

You've lightened my mood with this one, bill, so thank you. All is well here after a good, though slightly damp, day.

Keep safe and well; you, Bev and your faithful dogs!

Ann

Marlene Bertrand from USA on September 02, 2020:

I grew up with dogs. Our household always had at least one if not two dogs as family companions. Now, since moving to the mountains, I don't have any dogs and this is the perfect place for a loving animal to grow up, but I have no fences and I don't want to keep them on a leash. Reading your stories about Maggie and Toby gives me joy and I totally can't wait to get my fence so I can get a dog... two dogs.

Nell Rose from England on September 02, 2020:

I love your maggie and toby stories. They are so warm and friendly, rather like when I take my sons dog for a walk too. And yes you are right, its exactly the same as when we were kids walking our first dog, which in my case was named Pepe. Why I have no idea! my mother named him, I think it was probably after pepe le pew on the cartoons, LOL! have a great day Bill.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on September 02, 2020:

Since we lived in the country, and there were few kids around when I was a child, we had cats and dogs as family members to keep my brothers and me company. Of course, we had our school friends at school and nearby grandparents. It was a lovely life with trees, fields, and the love of family togetherness. Our pets were a big part of our growing up days, as was your Pixie.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on September 02, 2020:

Bill, I always enjoy these walks and thank you for allowing me to tag along once again. I kinda envy our animals; they have no knowledge of wars or riots, politics or plagues. The life of Maggie and Toby is pretty much the same as was the world of Pixie almost 70 years ago. All they know is that they love you and you love them--and isn't that what's really important? Just having and giving love. If all of us had that love, giving and receiving, maybe the other things would just disappear.

Rosina S Khan on September 02, 2020:

The walks with Maggie and Toby were enjoyable. I am sorry for Pixie, your childhood dog. But as of today, you have both Maggie and Toby to compensate for that. Life goes on and doesn't stay standstill and we go with the flow. It was nice walking with you and your dogs and enjoy the surrounding people and nature. Enjoy the rest of the day as well, Bill.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on September 02, 2020:

Your house sounds like our house, except our two seniors (both are 11) are slowing down. They're still up for walks and play. I can't believe they're that old. Glad to have them with us and hope for many more years with them.

Our girl is like Maggie (it's the cattle dog in her). Always protective.

As for housework with dogs underfoot, I've just resorted to the fact that there will be patches of the house that don't get cleaned each week. It's a workaround, literally.

Thank you for taking us with you!

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on September 02, 2020:

Hi Bill. I always enjoy reading about your walks with Maggie and Toby. Reminds me of my dog friends in our neighborhood in the cottage. We all see each other in the summer, but we remember. My friend, Lily, a golden lab, is old and wants only to lie down beside me, but we have a new puppy. My first great-grandaughter, Stevie, a golden doodle, which is more like Toby. She has what we refer to as her witching hour. We do have fun with them and their other friends.