Travels With Maggie: Mutual Understanding

Updated on October 25, 2019

Bring Your Raingear

It’s that time of year, coined The Big Dark in these parts, that stretches from October through March, when it seems darkness, darkness, my old friend is our default setting here in the Pacific Northwest. So slip on your raincoat, make sure you have a hat, you might also consider some rubber boots, and join us on our walkabout. We love it when you do.

Brother and sister six months ago
Brother and sister six months ago

Time Invested

I spend a great deal of time with Maggie and her brother Toby . . . a great deal of time! Truthfully I spend more time with them than I do with Bev. I talk to them. I walk with them. I share with them. And I swear to you, on this rainy Olympia afternoon, that they talk and share with me.

Maggie races ahead of me. Something has her attention, some sight I did not see, some smell I could not smell, some sound I could not hear, but then, fifty feet ahead she stops, turns in my direction, barks at me as if to say “hurry the hell up, Bill,” and then continues her sprint. The object of her mission, it turned out, was a rabbit hole, and by the time I do catch up Maggie is digging in that hole, obviously certain that a little four-legged critter is inside. She stops digging, looks at me, barks as if to say “Are you going to help or just watch me?” and then continues digging.

Now I say “as if to say,” but the thing is, I’m convinced that is what she was communicating.

I read once that dogs do not “think” in a language like we do, but they do have the cognitive level of a three-to-five year old child, and that’s fairly advanced “thinking.”

Eventually Maggie gives up the quest when I say “leave it” and we continue on. Her reward is a pat on the head, a treat, and a “good dog,” which immediately sets her tail to wagging. It turns out dogs are attuned to our emotions. They know when we are sad, when we are happy, when we are angry or confused or frightened, and I gotta tell ya, I’ve known some people who lacked that level of empathy. They are noble creatures, these canines, exhibiting the best in human characteristics, leaving the worst to the humans themselves.

No Judgment

Because I spend so much time with these dogs, I have certain insights into their character and behavior. For instance, I can say without hesitation that Maggie does not pass judgment on people because of their religion. She doesn’t give a hoot about their politics. She couldn’t care less about their economic status, nor does she care about their social status, race, place of origin, sexual orientation, and on and on and on. She sniffs a person, decides on whether they are “naturally good,” and that’s that, thank you very much, and on to the next.

Can you imagine?

The sun briefly spreads apart the curtain of gloom overhead, a shaft of light, and enlightenment, for all to see, and then just as quickly disappears again.

Wisdom is fleeting for us all, hard earned and as slippery as a greased pig at the county fair.

Always exploring...always looking for new adventures
Always exploring...always looking for new adventures

Toby and Loyalty

Maggie’s brother, Toby, is with us on this particular day, and he’s a handful at times, full of “piss and vinegar,” as Grandma was fond of saying, he is still a puppy of nine months and his energy is, at times, exhausting. He constantly pesters his sister for play time, and that play time can be a bit intense. He and Maggie will run off into the field and commence with the wrestling, snarling, baring of teeth, nips and bites and hair-pulling, looking to any stranger as though they hate each other. In truth they are just siblings doing what siblings do, and after a time they disentangle and playfully run off to explore more rabbit holes. Their play is not aggressive in any way; there is no animosity involved in it.

But I have seen Toby aggressive. Toss in another dog, one not related, a dog looking for some fun, perhaps a bit too enthusiastic towards Maggie, and Toby will flick the switch from fun-lover to defender in a heartbeat. Toby does not like other dogs messing with his sister, and I’ve seen similar reactions from peace-loving Maggie when Toby appears to be “threatened.” When it happens I’m reminded of something my dad often told me.

“Family and friends, Billy, are to be protected and defended. Those kinds of bonds are sacred!”

Toby and Maggie understand perfectly! You can play rough with family. You can occasionally even fight with family. But at the end of the day, family is family, and that bond must be maintained and constantly strengthened. Of course there are always exceptions to the rule, but Maggie and Toby don’t complicate life like humans do.

It Rained Last Night

As a matter of fact, it has rained the past six days, the Pacific Ocean firing storms at our little corner of the world, one after another after another, a fire hose aimed to the east, and the fields along our walk are soggy with standing water, and man alive my dogs love standing water. They seem to sense its existence before they see it because they are off like a shot, into that field, hydroplaning water as they sprint through puddles, droplets of water flung into the sky, brother and sister whooping and hollering, having the time of their young lives, reminding me of days long gone when me and my friends could not pass a puddle without splashing in it, much to the unhappiness of our mothers, our mud-splattered clothes sure to raise disapproval when we arrived home.

But the parental disapproval was worth it for us, as kids, and I don’t have the heart to stop my dogs from having that same fun. In fact, I brought an extra towel to dry them off when their playtime has ended because, well, I understand. A certain percentage of life should be reserved just for puddle-splashing.

The ever-changing landscape calls to us
The ever-changing landscape calls to us

A Different Kind of Rain

The wind kicks up and the trees shower us with leaves, reds and oranges and yellows, a rainbow falling from the sky, Toby and Maggie chasing the colors along the road, outrunning some, giving up on others, tongues lagging, barks echoing off the forest, birds suddenly taking off from limbs, a doe streaks across the field, followed by another, guinea hens sound the alarm, chickens cluck, horses join in the chorus, a chorus of nature, better than anything I’ve ever heard on the radio, better than any concert I’ve attended, it is the sound of life all around me, and me and my dogs we are part of it, at that time, in that place, and it’s beautiful. The sun makes one more appearance as we reach the truck, illuminating millions of rain drops on leaves and blades of grass, millions of sparkles dancing in the wind, glittering ballerinas on Nature’s stage, performing just for us.

Just a man and his dogs, learning about life while participating in it, and you are always welcome to join us where the pavement ends and the wonder begins.

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Bill Holland

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      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        PS, we don't have any rain to send you. This is the driest fall here in 67 years. Not a drop in November and trust me, that is weird.

        Angels are casually heading your way under clear skies.

      • pstraubie48 profile image

        Patricia Scott 

        4 weeks ago from North Central Florida

        Thank you for taking me along this day. I had my morning walk alone and a brief walk around the property with Kitty. Every time I step out I can find her waiting to be adored or to go for a stroll. You are so right....family is family...we can fuss and feud but at the end of the day before lights out I feel the need to be certain all is well between us. Hoping all is good out in your neck of the woods...we could use some rain here by the way...the grass is not crunchy yet though. Take care ....many blessings and hugs and Angels are headed your way ps

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        Well Denise, that's a minor miracle you didn't get wet, but then you were walking faster than us. Maybe that explains it. lol Thank you!

      • PAINTDRIPS profile image

        Denise McGill 

        5 weeks ago from Fresno CA

        It would be a great place if all people accepted each other the way dogs do. I loved this walk with you and the dogs. Thanks for taking me along. I didn't even get wet.

        Blessings,

        Denise

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        Thank you Cynthia! I hope you find a dog as good as Maggie!

      • techygran profile image

        Cynthia 

        5 weeks ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

        Another great walk with you and your dogs. I think that we are going to have to get another dog again soon. Good work!

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        Yes you do, William, and yes I do. Always in Olympia!

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        I love that, Sean...that is all they need! Love fills in the gaps, for sure. Brilliant!

        love and peace

        bill

      • lifegate profile image

        William Kovacic 

        5 weeks ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

        Thanks, Bill for allowing me to travel with you three. it was an enjoyable walk. Oh, do you have an extra towel? I need to dry off.

      • Sean Dragon profile image

        Ioannis Arvanitis 

        5 weeks ago from Greece, Almyros

        Dogs have the cognitive level of a three-to-five-year-old child because it's all they need, filling the rest with unconditional Love. Isn't that a great example of living for us the "wise" small-hearted humans, my dear brother! Thank you for the blessing to walk with you three.

        Simplicity frees a lot of space for Love!

        Sean

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        Well we are very happy having you join us, Nithya! Thank you so much.

      • Vellur profile image

        Nithya Venkat 

        5 weeks ago from Dubai

        Toby and Maggie should have their fun in the rain and you must have made their day letting them play in the puddles. I miss nature here in Dubai so I get my dose of nature by walking with you and your adorable dogs.

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        Well Dora that is a huge compliment. Thank you! I hope you do get that dog. I doubt you'll be disappointed. Get a puppy if possible and avoid any problems caused by a previous owner.

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        Thank you Linda! They are a great pair as well as being a handful and a half. lol

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        I love your statement, Heidi, that dogs are too good for our world. Ain't that the truth?

        Thank you for joining us. Sending hugs to Daisy!

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 

        5 weeks ago from The Caribbean

        Bill, because of your connection with Maggie, I'm tempted to get a dog. I can see how easy it is to love her like family. Meanwhile, thanks for allowing me to share the joy of your togetherness.

      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 

        5 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

        I always enjoy reading about your walks with Maggie, but it's nice to hear about Toby as well. They sound like a great pair.

      • heidithorne profile image

        Heidi Thorne 

        5 weeks ago from Chicago Area

        We have a lot of the same things going on at our house. Daisy was a single dog for her entire life from what we know. So now, after being here a year, she's learning how to play with her older brother. Luckily, he had some good training from our old girl who passed in 2017. He knows that she's just playing, even though she can get a little rough, too. Then they nap side-by-side. Dogs are too good for our world.

        I sympathize with your Toby troubles! He's in that adolescent jerk stage. Been there, done that several times. They get over it.

        Always love the virtual walk with you and your pups!

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        Good times for sure, Zulma. Your youngest is always welcome to join us on your wet walks. Maggie and Toby would be very happy to meet her. :) Odd looks from some? Some people just don't know how to have fun, do they?

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        I understand the attraction to puddles, Meg, but I don't like doing laundry, so I pass on the experience LOL

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        Very true, Flourish. Maggie will always be my favorite but shhh, don't tell Toby please.

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        Mr. Happy, I'm all for more "fun and interesting" in life. Join us any old time,my friend. Your insights are always welcomed.

        Peace and blessings to you always

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        It is a great pastime, Liz, one we should all do occasionally to get in touch with the kid within us.

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        Ruby, I have a fire burning and all is well in my world this morning.Thank you for joining us on our walk. You are always a lovely addition.

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        6 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        Thanks for the suggestion, Linda. In my spare time...LOL

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        6 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        Thank you Sha! Yesterday Toby found a puddle and rolled in it. I laughed so hard I almost peed. LOL

      • phoenix2327 profile image

        Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 

        6 weeks ago from United Kingdom

        Your dogs and my youngest daughter would get along great. She loves the rain. Normally, you can't get her to shift from her comfy recliner, even on sunny days. But if it's raining, it's any excuse to go for a walk in it. She always comes back soaked and looking radiant.

        My mother was one of those 'come away from the puddle' types. I, on the other hand, not only let my kids splash about, I joined them. Making up for lost time, I suppose. But, hey, I have to do laundry anyway so what's a couple of more items. Got odd looks from some passersby, smiles from others, as I recall. Ah, good times. :)

      • DreamerMeg profile image

        DreamerMeg 

        6 weeks ago from Northern Ireland

        Love the idea of a 'rainbow falling from the sky'. These walks are great, rain or not. Peppa Pig, in the cartoon, loves jumping in muddy puddles and my youngest grandchild loves watching that.

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 

        6 weeks ago from USA

        Someone has a favorite dog. I have a favorite cat as well and certainly an unfavorite although I love all six of them. Like people their personalities mesh well with ours or it clashes.

      • aesta1 profile image

        Mary Norton 

        6 weeks ago from Ontario, Canada

        It's always a treat to go with you for these walks with Maggie and Toby. It makes me feel close to nature and to the world of dogs and also, the Pacific area. I love the way you describe the relationship between Maggie and Toby. We observe such as well in our cottage neighbour's dogs whom I will only see again in the Spring. Sad.

      • Mr. Happy profile image

        Mr. Happy 

        6 weeks ago from Toronto, Canada

        "A certain percentage of life should be reserved just for puddle-splashing." - Well, it does make things more fun and interesting. You never know how deep a puddle is until You jump in it. Haha!! I personally like to take decisions sometimes by flipping a quarter. Heads is always "take the non-conventional road" and tails is "behave!" lol All about making life entertaining and non-conformist. If we always conform, or follow others, that kills our own creativity.

        Love that first photo! Your furry buddies look very comfortable.

        Thank You for the piece of writing. Until again - cheers!

      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        6 weeks ago from UK

        Listening to the rain pouring down outside in a very autumnal UK, 'bring the rain gear' registered with me. My young grandson loves puddle splashing with his best friend, the dog.

      • always exploring profile image

        Ruby Jean Richert 

        6 weeks ago from Southern Illinois

        It's amazing how alert animals are, like Maggie finding that rabbit hole. We are having the same kind of weather here in southern Il., rain and wind, down in the 30's one night. The leaves are almost gone. The fireplace feels good in the mornings. Isn't it funny how much children and animals are so much alike? ( playing in puddles ) I had a good time on my journey with you and Maggie, until next time......

      • Carb Diva profile image

        Linda Lum 

        6 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

        Bill, these walks are so beautiful, both the time spent with you and the "kids" and your thoughtful reflections. In your spare time, you should compile these into a book.

      • bravewarrior profile image

        Shauna L Bowling 

        6 weeks ago from Central Florida

        This is one of my favorite Maggie Travels to date, Bill. I love that Toby was along for this one. It seems the changing weather puts you in a ponderous mood. Great fuel for your writing, my friend.

        I clearly saw Maggie and little bro scampering about, torturing each other, then having each other's backs when push came to shove.

        Your closing paragraph says it all!

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        6 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        My pleasure, ut kashy...thanks for walking along with us.

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        6 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        I'm glad, Susan. Thank you for joining us.

      • ut kashy profile image

        ut kashy 

        6 weeks ago

        I really enjoyed it. Thanks Bill.

      • Just Ask Susan profile image

        Susan Zutautas 

        6 weeks ago from Ontario, Canada

        I really enjoyed this walk with you, Maggie, and Toby.

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        6 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        Quack, Quack to you, Nell. I know the feeling. lol

        Happy Wednesday, my friend, and thank you!

      • Nell Rose profile image

        Nell Rose 

        6 weeks ago from England

        Beautifully put Bill. I am rather like Maggie, I don't give a whatsit for someone's religion, language etc, I like who I like, but instead of the sniff its the smile. If they smile, then I like them. We have had a months rain here, and now I feel like a duck! But thankfully the sun came out today! Have a great day.

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        6 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        Thank you Devika! I never grow tired of walking with Maggie and sharing it with all of you.

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        6 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        I appreciate that, John! Thank you very much.

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        6 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        How cool is that? I actually know who he is. Good luck!

      • DDE profile image

        Devika Primić 

        6 weeks ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

        Hi Bill certainly one of your best hubs and walks with Maggie. It is a great pass time and adventures never seem to fade.

      • Jodah profile image

        John Hansen 

        6 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

        I really get lost in these walks and can imagine myself there with you, Maggie and Tobias. Of course that is because of your wonderful and engaging writing. “A Different Kind of Rain” contained wonderful imagery.

      • shanmarie profile image

        Shannon Henry 

        6 weeks ago from Texas

        Gosh, seems like I just walked with you yesterday. And I thought, "Another walk? That was fast!" But that's just me all mixed up. Go figure.

        I sure hope you never run out of ideas for this series! Life is so simple when on these walks. Such a lovely escape. Has me humming a Rascall Flatts song in my head. . ."I miss Mayberry. . ." Good to calm my nerves. I'm currently preparing for a phone interview with Mark Chesnutt in an hour. Phone interviews with people well-known make me nervous.

        See ya later!

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        6 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        What we need to, Eric? I'll have to give that some thought today. Hmmm indeed! Thanks buddy! Toby says hi!

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        6 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        Wonderful. You led me to remember discipline this day. Obedience to rule is a great freedom. Yours and my rule is to love. But we get distracted. Toby is me. Through your writings I shall learn.

        My dad the Dr. said we learn what we need by 6. Hmmm.

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        6 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        I"m sorry to hear about your cat, Pamela. I hope his passing is painless. Hold on tightly to your good memories.

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        6 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        That is high praise, Ann, and I thank you for it. You just made my day, friend!

        Happy Wednesday to you, Ann! Thanks for joining us.

        bill

      • Pamela99 profile image

        Pamela Oglesby 

        6 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

        I don't tend to walk in the mud or when raining if I can avoid it, but I use to think nothing of it. I think dogs are great fun. Now I am going to lose my male, tuxedo cat any day after 13 1/2 years. It hurts for sure. He knows his name and unlike most cats he listens. Such is life, I guess.

        Maybe I will walk with you next time when I feel a bit more perky. I do enjoy hearing about your walks and hope you get a bit of sun one day to enjoy those autumn leaves.

      • annart profile image

        Ann Carr 

        6 weeks ago from SW England

        Love that last line, 'where the pavement...' etc! In fact, this series is my total favourite of all. I can totally identify with all of it, human- and doggy-wise.

        Yes, family and friends need total loyalty and protection.

        Thanks for the smiles today, bill.

        Ann

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