Travels With Maggie: Spreading Doggy Love in the City

Updated on March 25, 2020

Walking in a New Reality

Same old world but a different reality, yes?

Welcome to 2020, the Year of the Virus! Me, Maggie, and Toby, we hope this finds you well. Won’t you join us on a walk around the neighborhood? Maybe, just maybe, my dogs can take your mind off the negatives surrounding you right now.

No traveling involved today; no trips to the farm; it turns out the pavement ends and the wonder begins right past our driveway, so put on your walking shoes and let’s go get us some wonder.

Why the Change of Scenery?

Way too much development out along the old country lane leading to the farm; since we began our walks out there, two homes have been built and two new families have arrived, with another just clearing ground and pouring a foundation. Heck, if we want to walk by homes and people, we can do that without driving five miles. Besides, it doesn’t make a bit of difference to my dogs. They just want to explore, sniff, and experience, so out the door we go, turn left at the end of the driveway, and a new adventure begins.

City walking means walking one dog at a time. On leash my Maggie and Toby don’t do well walking with each other. They have a tendency to want to wrestle with each other, while on leash, and that makes for far too much work for this old man. So I walk Maggie for a mile, return home, and then walk Toby for a mile. It seems to work well. They get one-on-one time with me, which they seem to appreciate, and I double my workout, which my Fitbit seems to appreciate. It’s a win-win, the best possible arrangement.

The Age of Social Distancing

We now live in the Age of Social Distancing. I wonder who dreamed up that catch-phrase; someone with far too much spare time, obviously. Anyway, social distancing in our neighborhood means fewer cars and more walkers, judging from the number of dog-walkers roaming about. For sure the numbers have increased since the virus arrived. Me and my dogs, we can’t go two blocks without encountering another “isolated” human being.

Maggie is weird on these walks. She is wary of strangers but not aggressive. She is wary of other dogs, but aggressive towards some of them. And kids on bicycles or skateboards freak her out. I have no idea why, but she goes bat-shit crazy when she sees a bicycle approaching. I literally have to stop the walk, kneel down next to her, and reassure her that everything is all right. It’s weird. There is some deep-seated memory which is triggered within her during those moments. For sure she has no idea why, and I’m clueless as well, but her reaction is real to her and that’s all that matters.

So we deal with it.

I knew a woman once. She had been beaten by her husband for five, six years when I met her. She finally filed for divorce, her husband moved away, a year passed, two passed, and she began to build a new life for herself. One day I reached out to touch her shoulder, get her attention to say something to her, and she screamed and jumped back. It was an ingrained reaction, surprise touch means pain to follow, and at that moment I had no doubt she was being beaten, in her mind, by that bastard once again.

We deal with it all, one way or another.

My parents, the Great Depression, unemployment at twenty-four percent, food a scarcity, not knowing what each day would bring, and they made it.

We deal with it all, and always move forward.

Toby, on the Other Hand

Toby has never met a person or dog he doesn’t like, and a bicycle or skateboard is just some fast-moving toy for him to explore. He is curious about everything. He has to smell everything. He literally walks, on leash, in a zigzag manner, back and forth in front of me, forcing me to pay close attention so I don’t trip over my directionally-challenged dog.

Person approaching, Toby goes into a crouch, like he’s herding, his belly close to the ground, his pace slowing, and he continues that way until we reach that human and the sniff test is employed to determine friend or foe.

And it’s always a friend!

I suspect Toby’s personality will be changing drastically soon. He goes under the knife tomorrow to have his “maleness” snipped. I’m a bit sad about it, but it will also be nice to have him a bit calmer, you know? So not a win-win for Toby.

Pleasantness Abounds

People seem to be friendly in this new reality of social distancing, at least on these walks. Many hellos are shared; many stops to pet each other’s dogs; and many more smiles are given, which hasn’t been the case in the past. It’s kind of nice, truth be told, this increased comradeship, dog walkers unite to spread the love, human beings reaching out to find a bond, some contact with another, as human a reaction as you are ever likely to find.

Several now know Maggie and Toby, know their names, speak to them in greeting as they pass, and that is nice as well, and I respond in kind, and in some small way we all feel not-so-alone, you know, and connected in an era of distancing.

It helps that spring has arrived. Cherry blossoms are overhead as blue skies grace us these past few days. Warming temperatures warm hearts, or at least it seems to me. Crocus appear, birds chirp in joy, buds sprout, daffodils, new shades of green, reminding me of an old Pat Green song, “you came upon me wave on wave,” and I sing it to myself as we walk along.

“Was I the one you were meant to save? You came upon me wave on wave.”

A Quick Shower

“The clouds broke and the angels cried,” but it was no more than a five minute rinsing, not enough to send us scurrying for cover. Maggie shakes off, water flying, fur fluffing, and she looks at me with those brown human eyes, I swear she smiles, and man and beast bond once again.

Maggie will always be my favorite. Don’t tell Toby, but Maggie was first by a year, an unbreakable love was formed, and that’s just the real of it. I love the heck out of Toby, but these walks are about truth and reflection, so there you have it.

A Slow Changing

What has become of me? I climbed mountains, for God’s sake, and here I am shuffling along, like the old man I am, talking to my dogs. How freakin’ sad is that? I roamed the outfield, chasing flyballs, and ran races and jumped with reckless abandon, leaping over buildings at a single bound, and now look at me, seventy-one and counting steps on my Fitbit.

I smile at the thought.

It’s all as it should be.

I’ve lived twenty-one years longer than my dad lived. I’ve outlived every member of my immediate family, and most of my close friends, so a little “catch in my step” is just the price one pays for longevity and a life well-lived.

All in all, this social distancing thing is all right for me and my dogs. We are adjusting quite nicely, thanks for asking, and we will continue to adjust in the future.

That’s just who we are! And the same can be said for the human race. We will adjust. A new norm will be established, and when it is all over we will hug each other a little tighter with the realization that we stared into the eyes of “the elephant” and lived to talk about it, stories around future campfires about the time the evil Corona came visiting and we survived the encounter.

And we will talk, in hushed tones, about those who did not survive, and we will remember them fondly.

Thanks for Joining Us

Maggie and Toby are wagging their tails in thanks. We really do appreciate you joining us, and we hope this finds you healthy and safe during these strange times.

If you need us we aren’t hard to find. Just look for that spot where the pavement ends and the wonder begins. That’s where you’ll find us!


2020 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

Questions & Answers


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      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        34 hours ago from Olympia, WA

        Mr. Happy, our "spring" was short-lived. We are back to chilly and rainy. Grrr!

        A flyball is a baseball term meaning a ball hit high into the air. Interesting about the dogs, though. I did not know that.

        I never would have guessed that my introverted lifestyle would one day be recommended for good health. ha-ha. It's nice to be a trendsetter. The government should hire me as a social distancing expert.

        Take care my friend. Let's hope warmer weather is approaching soon.

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        34 hours ago from Olympia, WA

        Thank you Laurinzo! Have a fantastic week, and a safe one.

      • profile image

        Mr. Happy 

        37 hours ago

        "Social Distancing. I wonder who dreamed up that catch-phrase; someone with far too much spare time, obviously" - Haha!! It's not even "social distancing", it's literally "physical distancing". Why don't people pay attention to the words they use? Words are specific. They have meaning.

        "It helps that spring has arrived." - It's trying here and I can hardly wait for it. I need to go on a hike and right now it's super muddy/rainy. Not fun for hiking.

        "birds chirp in joy" - I heard some for the first time this past week-end. I am waiting to see if the pair of Robins who have made the tree outside my window here their home for the past three years, come back.

        "chasing flyballs" - What's a "flyball"?

        "Flyball is a dog sport in which teams of dogs race against each other from a start/finish line, over a line of hurdles, to a box that releases a tennis ball to be caught when the dog presses the spring-loaded pad, then back to their handlers while carrying the ball.[1]" - I feel like this is not the "flyball" You were talking about.

        "All in all, this social distancing thing is all right for me and my dogs" - It's all good for me as well. I'm quite introverted and so, my life-style was already pretty much a quarantine in the winter. So, nothing much has changed on my end for now.

        Thanks for the "thoughts on paper". Keep safe and best of luck!!

      • Majestic Tells profile image


        2 days ago from Kanab, Utah

        Amen you are blessed!!! And you are a blessing

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        2 days ago from Olympia, WA

        My pleasure, Laurinzo! You would like Toby. He's infectious in his love of life.

      • Majestic Tells profile image


        2 days ago from Kanab, Utah

        Thank you Bill Holland for that grand tour...I really felt I was there...a tribute to your writing...and Toby...just seems to lead the way unto the road of happy destiny...wonderful writing...and thanks;think we all needed that!!!

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        3 days ago from Olympia, WA

        The fact that your plants have names, Alyssa, makes me like you more. lol I think we are both a bit strange, and I'm fine with that. lol

        Be safe and happy!

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        3 days ago from Olympia, WA

        I agree with you, Sha. The no handshaking and no hugging things is a bit tough for me, but yes, we adapt. I've gotten pretty good at zigzagging from one side of the street to the other to give people their space.

        Be well my friend!



      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        3 days ago from Olympia, WA

        That is exactly what I have to do, Jason, assure her that it is all right. lol Thanks for sharing that. It's nice to know Maggie isn't that strange.

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        3 days ago from Olympia, WA

        We do a lot of zigzagging, Liz. I've gotten pretty good at it. lol Blessings always!

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        3 days ago from Olympia, WA

        Thanks for joining us, Heidi! I do believe it's a girl dog thing....Maggie's mother is like that as well.

        Happy Saturday to you! I hope yours is spectacular and safe.

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        3 days ago from Olympia, WA

        I'm happy to hear it, Rajan! Thank you for joining us.

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        3 days ago from Olympia, WA

        And I am waving back, Peggy! It's a good has been a good will be a good life.

      • Alyssa Nichol profile image


        4 days ago from Ohio

        This was a wonderful walk and I enjoyed coming along. It's strange how mandated isolation brings out a new sense of friendliness among strangers. I love that Toby always decides that the new humans are friends!

        I had a chuckle at your "how sad is that" comment. If it makes you feel better, I talk to my plants and I'm 32. So, there's that. (Also, they have names and personalities.. but I won't drone on about them.) ha!

        I hope you are all staying healthy and safe up there! :)

      • bravewarrior profile image

        Shauna L Bowling 

        4 days ago from Central Florida

        Bill, isn't it amazing how adapting we humans are when forced? I, too, see more people out walking their dogs. Makes me wonder why it's taken a pandemic to give their poor pooches (and themselves) some exercise.

        Yes, we will look back on these times somewhere down the road. What stories will we tell? Will we learn from the forced distancing and appreciate each other more when we can once again feel the comfort of human touch? I think that's what bothers me the most - the fact that I have to refrain from hugging and shaking hands. It takes great restraint on my part.

        I've enjoyed walking the neighborhood with you, Maggie, and Toby. I'll meet you again soon where the pavement ends and the wonder begins. That'll be me waving at you from across the street!

      • Nicoartz profile image

        Jason Nicolosi 

        4 days ago from AZ

        Hi, Bill great article. Your dog Maggie sounds exactly like my dog Touka. Same reaction to people and situations. I literally have to do almost exactly what you do, when I see bicyclists. As soon as I see a person on a bike or skateboard I have to stop the walk. I then tell her to sit to, then I kneel down next to her, and restrain her while I reassure that it is ok.

        Stay safe and healthy.

      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        4 days ago from UK

        Thanks for taking us with you on your walk. I have noticed many more people walking around now that we are only allowed out once a day for exercise. Sometimed I have to zigzag across the road to keep the social distance.

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        4 days ago from Olympia, WA

        Hugs and high-fives and shouts of glee, Denise!

        Blessings always


      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        4 days ago from Olympia, WA

        You did Shannon, and I'm appreciative.

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        4 days ago from Olympia, WA

        Thanks for sharing your journey, Devika. It's good to know that Croatia is taking it seriously.

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        4 days ago from Olympia, WA

        True words, William! Know and grow....nice, simple, powerful!

        Be well my friend!

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        4 days ago from Olympia, WA

        Yes they do, Dora! Animals are extremely sensitive and responsive to the world around them.

        Blessings always my friend!

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        4 days ago from Olympia, WA

        Thanks for joining us, Ruby! It's one way to beat social distancing, eh? :) Take care, be safe, and I'll talk atcha next week.

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        4 days ago from Olympia, WA

        Flourish, I love your name for that kitten. Perfect!

        We are doing well, thank you. You take care too!

      • heidithorne profile image

        Heidi Thorne 

        4 days ago from Chicago Area

        I am walking there with you! I have a similar scenario with my pups. Since about 2010, and a couple serious injuries, I haven't been able to walk two dogs at the same time. Oh well. Like for your pups, they get some private time with mom, enjoying the walk as each likes. Then on the weekends, dad joins us and we can all walk together.

        My girl, too, is a bit wary of strangers even though all are nice to her. Then once she knows them, well, she's their best friend. Our boy is excited by everyone. I think it's a girl-dog thing.

        Social distancing? I hardly see any of my neighbors these days on our walks. I miss seeing them, of course. But gotta admit I kind of like the quiet.

        We always have fave dogs. A couple of the girls have been true "daddy's girls." The boys are more mine, except for our latest rescue. She's a mama's girl all the way.

        And, yes, humanity and society will survive this coronavirus thing, too, even if it changes us in some fundamental ways.

        So glad you're staying well. Thanks for letting us go with you on the walk. Take care!

      • rajan jolly profile image

        Rajan Singh Jolly 

        4 days ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

        Thoroughly enjoyed the walk, reflections and all, my friend. Thank you.

      • Peggy W profile image

        Peggy Woods 

        4 days ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Bill,

        Hooray! Another "Travels With Maggie" to read and enjoy! I love this series of yours. Like you, we see many more people than usual walking and biking in our neighborhood now. It is the same worldwide, I suspect.

        Abused people or abused animals, the reactions are much the same. Memories are slow to die in those instances which is sad. You just about mirrored my experience of being the last in my family and losing most of our dearest friends and being of a ripe old age shuffling along through life and no longer being able to do what was once commonplace.

        The sun still shines, and the birds still sing, and the butterflies still all is well. Take care, and stay safe. I am waving from afar!

      • phoenix2327 profile image

        Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 

        4 days ago from United Kingdom

        I'm pleased to hear Toby came through his procedure with flying colours.

        On the plus side, I'm left alone to do whatever I please without someone nagging me to get out of the house for some fresh air. On the other hand, I now have my oldest daughter hovering over me making sure I've washed my hands thoroughly and stocked up on my meds. (sigh) I know she means well, but I'm not accustomed to being fussed over.

        We had a heartwarming event last night. At 8 o'clock last night, the general public was asked to come out, at a safe distance, and make some noise to show their support for the NHS and all front line people working their hearts out during the crisis. And what a joyful noise it was. People from all walks of life, from the Royal family on down, were applauding, banging pots, doing whatever they could to make themselves heard. It was good to see that people can come together and be kind to one another when the going gets tough.

        Have a gorgeous day, Bill.

      • PAINTDRIPS profile image

        Denise McGill 

        4 days ago from Fresno CA

        I can hardly wait for the hugs that it is all over and we lived to tell about it. Thanks for the walk.



      • profile image


        5 days ago

        Anytime. Glad to return the favor.

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        5 days ago from Olympia, WA

        All true, Meg! There is no stopping progress,I'm afraid. But me and the dogs can have fun anywhere, so it's all good.

        Be safe my friend.

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        5 days ago from Olympia, WA

        Thank you Manatita! We can all us a change of direction nowadays, yes?

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        5 days ago from Olympia, WA

        Oh Daisy, what have you done? lol Thanks for the laugh, Shannon!

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        5 days ago from Olympia, WA

        Thank you Pamela. Toby came through it like a champ and he's already feeling his oats.

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        5 days ago from Olympia, WA

        I agree with you, James. I'm a bit of a pragmatist. This, too, shall pass, and we will learn from it, and we will move on. Such is life...and death.

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        5 days ago from Olympia, WA

        Thanks for your thoughts, Kyler! I am seeing the same things, people I didn't know lived here. lol Kind of cool, actually, to connect with them all...from a distance, of course.

      • DDE profile image

        Devika Primić 

        5 days ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

        We walked yesterday but nobody around. It is taken seriously here and not a person to be seen at the stores and social distancing is practiced and not ignored as I see in other places. Thank you for another adventure

      • lifegate profile image

        William Kovacic 

        5 days ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

        I think it's safe to say, Bill, our world will never be the same again. Live and learn. Know and grow. Life comes full-circle, but we never retrace our steps. Thanks for another enjoyable with my canine friends.

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 

        6 days ago from The Caribbean

        Bill, perhaps the dogs' social attitudes have to do with memories of people's attitudes towards them in the past. Happy for them that you are now their social solace and you can enjoy these nature walks together. Even the animals need and respond to love and affection.

      • always exploring profile image

        Ruby Jean Richert 

        6 days ago from Southern Illinois

        It felt like old times while reading this. I forgot about being in lockdown, I forgot about being uneasy. This cannot end soon enough for me, and then I think about the young person who didn't make it and I feel sad again. We will get through this and write another day. I enjoyed my city walk with you, Maggie and Toby. Thank you. Stay well.

      • FlourishAnyway profile image


        6 days ago from USA

        Both Toby and Maggie already know who is the favorite child. It’s hard not to play favorites. My husband’s favorite out of our six cats is the newest cat who came to us last fall as a starving, unhealthy and (we suspected) pregnant little black kitten. We immediately got her vetted and nursed back to health but turns out she just has a terrible personality no bones about it. That’s okay. Love is love and you can’t always explain it. She has a regular name but we call her Sybil. Who knows what is in her history. Maybe something sad like the lady you describe above. You take care in this a Coronavirus pandemic and enjoy your walks.

      • RoadMonkey profile image


        6 days ago

        Another great walk. It's a shame about the countryside. I remember the fields at the back of my grandmother's house where we played all day with our cousins when on summer holidays. Those fields are now roads and houses, no haymaking or bees. But nice for the people who live there, who have somewhere to live.

      • manatita44 profile image


        6 days ago from london

        A mighty fine piece of writing and a welcome change of direction for some of us, Bro. Brother Rufus seems to be really enjoying himself in that video too. Remain safe.

      • shanmarie profile image

        Shannon Henry 

        6 days ago from Texas

        Toby made me laugh today! He reminds me of my Sam, a very ornery young one. But even old Daisy seems to be a bit naughty lately. She just reached up and stole my son's cream-cheese-wrapped-in-ham right out of his hands.

      • Pamela99 profile image

        Pamela Oglesby 

        6 days ago from Sunny Florida

        Thus was a lovey wal. Poor Toby will have a hard day tomorrow but I understand it is a necessay procedure. Walking your dogs is a great way to exercise.e I enjoyed your a.rticle, as uxual, Bill.

      • justthemessenger profile image

        James C Moore 

        6 days ago from The Great Midwest

        I like your perspective about the post coronavirus pandemic future. Yes, there will be a new normal that probably should've already been here. Sometimes, it takes disasters to get us to focus on what really matters.

      • Kyler J Falk profile image

        Kyler J Falk 

        6 days ago from Corona, CA

        I'm seeing people out and about in my neighborhood I never even knew lived near me, with all the layoffs and mandatory vacations people are taking advantage of all the free time. It is nice to see, and unfortunate all at the same time when you think that this is what they'd rather be doing than working every single day. Even worse is no one wants to come near one another!

        Ugh, I thought making friends in real-life was difficult to begin with before this virus. Now I'm struggling to get someone to even acknowledge that I exist outside of actively avoiding me! Hahaha!

        Stay safe out there!

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        6 days ago from Olympia, WA

        We are well, Linda, thank you! It is interesting that we all automatically shift six feet away while walking, like we were trained long ago to do that. It has become second-nature now to distance ourselves from people we know, and I find that sad.

        Take care my friend! Sending you happy thoughts.

      • Carb Diva profile image

        Linda Lum 

        6 days ago from Washington State, USA

        Bill, I have also found many more people out walking their dogs in the daytime. How odd (and sad) though that when we approach each other we automatically move to our edge of the sidewalk to maintain that 6-foot distance.

        Sweet little Toby. Give him a head rub for me. He won't hate you for it, and he will become gentler little guy perhaps and not such a wild child. Take care and be safe dear friend.

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        6 days ago from Olympia, WA

        Ann, our daily walks have taken on great importance these days. We go on two walks each day, see many neighbors doing the same thing, exchange greetings, wave, smile, and then go home to clean and watch Netflix and write.

        It's all good! We will adjust and keep moving forward.

        Blessings to you today, tomorrow, and always.


      • annart profile image

        Ann Carr 

        6 days ago from SW England

        So much better when the sun shines, indeed! I love this time of year.

        We went for a walk yesterday. Our promenade by the sea was deserted, save for a couple of dog walkers. I thought of you! We yelled at each other across the road, keeping a huge distance between us.

        But the sea and the beach and the horizon was the same, the world kept turning and we smiled, even though there was the distant whisper of virus in the air.

        So far, so good; we are safe and well and so are all members of the family. I trust it stays that way, for us and for you and yours.

        No matter what, that wonder begins at the end of the pavement and we grow to appreciate it even more.

        Thanks for your philosophical walk today, bill.

        Take care and keep safe!



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