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Travels With Maggie: Mutual Understanding

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.

© 2019 Bill Holland


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 07, 2019:

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.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on November 04, 2019:

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

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 31, 2019:

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!

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on October 30, 2019:

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.



Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 30, 2019:

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

Cynthia Zirkwitz from Vancouver Island, Canada on October 29, 2019:

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

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 27, 2019:

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

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 27, 2019:

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

love and peace


William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on October 27, 2019:

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.

Ioannis Arvanitis from Greece, Almyros on October 26, 2019:

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!


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 26, 2019:

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

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on October 26, 2019:

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.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 25, 2019:

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.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 25, 2019:

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

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 25, 2019:

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!

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on October 25, 2019:

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.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on October 24, 2019:

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.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on October 24, 2019:

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!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 24, 2019:

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?

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 24, 2019:

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

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 24, 2019:

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

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 24, 2019:

Thank you Mary! I try to learn about life each day. A dog or a human, they can all teach me if I'm willing to learn.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 24, 2019:

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

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 24, 2019:

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

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 24, 2019:

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.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 24, 2019:

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

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 24, 2019:

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

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on October 24, 2019:

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 from Northern Ireland on October 24, 2019:

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 from USA on October 23, 2019:

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.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on October 23, 2019:

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 from Toronto, Canada on October 23, 2019:

"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!

Liz Westwood from UK on October 23, 2019:

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.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on October 23, 2019:

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......

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on October 23, 2019:

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.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on October 23, 2019:

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!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 23, 2019:

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

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 23, 2019:

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

ut kashy on October 23, 2019:

I really enjoyed it. Thanks Bill.

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on October 23, 2019:

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

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 23, 2019:

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

Happy Wednesday, my friend, and thank you!

Nell Rose from England on October 23, 2019:

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.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 23, 2019:

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

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 23, 2019:

I appreciate that, John! Thank you very much.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 23, 2019:

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

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on October 23, 2019:

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

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on October 23, 2019:

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.

Shannon Henry from Texas on October 23, 2019:

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!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 23, 2019:

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

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on October 23, 2019:

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.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 23, 2019:

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

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 23, 2019:

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.


Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on October 23, 2019:

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.

Ann Carr from SW England on October 23, 2019:

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.


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