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Travels With Maggie: The Dog Park

We are going to do something a little different today. Instead of walking the dogs around the neighborhood, I thought I would invite you to join us at the dog park, our favorite destination on weekends.

Dress in layers for our journey. You never know when a shower will pass overhead, and you never know when the sun will make a brief appearance. Such is life in Olympia in February and March.

By now you surely know how this works. Our journey begins where the pavement ends, at the end of our driveway, and the wonders begin.

A girl needs her beauty sleep after a tough walk!

A girl needs her beauty sleep after a tough walk!

A Quick Half-Mile Journey

It is Saturday morning, 8:30 to be exact, as Bev and I herd our two dogs, Toby and Maggie, into the car for a quick drive to the “dog park.” In truth it is not a designated dog park, but rather the site of a former public school, now torn down, about three acres of emptiness awaiting the City’s plans.

Shortly after the school was closed, people would stop by, notice the inactivity, and test it out with their dogs, one here, two there, nothing resembling a movement, just spur-of-the-moment stuff, a nice place to take the dogs off-leash and let them run, no harm, no foul, the City much too busy with important matters, and not concerned with the occasional dog breaking leash laws.

As so often happens, word spread throughout the community so that now, on any given Saturday or Sunday morning, a group of ten or more people will show up, maybe fifteen dogs total, and the Weekend Ritual begins. 8:30 seems to be the official, unofficial time of arrival. Everyone knows everyone’s name. Everyone knows the dogs’ names. Poop scoop bags are carried by all, treats are in every pocket, balls are thrown, sticks are chased, rabbits are hunted with no success, and for a half-hour, maybe an hour, a grand time is had by all.

Maggie and Toby, Yin and Yang

It’s amazing, really, watching Toby and Maggie interact with other dogs. Toby is the neighborhood clown. He loves to play with anyone, anything, a dog, a human, a stick, a leaf, makes no difference to our big goofball, he just loves to play. For a solid half-hour he is running with the pack, wrestling, jumping, frolicking, chasing, tongue out, breathing hard, squeezing every ounce of fun out of the time allowed. Maggie, not so much. I’m not even sure Maggie knows how to play. Oh, she’ll try, but the effort is always short-lived, and she always knows where her humans are, keeping Bev and I in sight, playing for thirty seconds and then racing back to us, by our side, nuzzling our legs, much happier with human interaction than furball play. I want to feel sorry for Maggie, all the fun she misses out on, but then a lump forms in my throat, and I’m deeply touched by the love she has for us, her total dedication to the people who love her so.

Too cool, dude!!!!

Too cool, dude!!!!

A Snow Day

Another day, shortly after, we are experiencing our first snow of the winter, the ground glistening, the trees drooping under the weight of it all, the air crisp, a good six inches, probably more, and damn if that snow doesn’t cleanse us all, bring smiles to chilled lips, broaden our smiles, as only snow can do, a childlike mood falls over the field, humans remembering days long ago, childhood returns in our minds, sledding and snowball fights and snow constructions, the universal memories which keep us comforted as age has its way, slows our movements, makes us more cautious, more wary, less willing to take the risks of youth.

There are no hesitations from my dogs. Maggie remembers her youth, digs her snout in the snow, lifts up a clump, and jumps in joy. Toby, he’s bouncing, lifting high in the air, think Tigger of literary fame, catching snowflakes as they fall, his fur caking with white clumps, his breath expelling with great bursts, and it is an absolute joy to watch them, their joy infectious, you know, and I can’t stop laughing, nor can Bev, a damned fine way to spend a snowy morning.

The cold eventually wins out, inevitable, really, for we humans have limitations. The dogs are weary, and our woodstove is calling to us, promises of warmth and dry clothes, hot chocolate and savoring memories newly-made, we return home and the dogs are immediately asleep on the floor, visions of snowflakes dancing in their doggy heads.

From winter to spring in the blink of an eye

From winter to spring in the blink of an eye

Three Days Later

And the snow is gone, poof, just like that, the giant magician in the sky waving a wand, leaving mud behind, huge lakes of mud, quagmires, really, and isn’t that a lovely word, quagmire, perfect word for the meaning, me thinks, and Toby is right in that quagmire quick as a flash, reveling in it, daring me to tell him no, which I can’t because he’s such a clown, our Toby, playful as the day is long. Maggie and me, we walk around the quagmire, God I love that word, we are constantly looking of solid ground, dry ground, enough with the wetness and mud and chill.

The weather has warmed. Not Florida-warmed, certainly not Honolulu-warm, but close to fifty, and that feels like a gift to these old bones.

It’s been two years now since Toby joined us, and it’s taken that long, every single day of it, to understand our playful boy, to learn his quirks, his fears, his triggers, as it did for Maggie, and that’s being with them daily, as I am, and I can’t help but wonder how long it takes to understand a human being, so complicated we are, bombarded by stimuli, the accumulation of decades of learned behaviors, imprinted with DNA, imprinted by nurturing, imprinted by negatives and positives, and is it any wonder there is so much discord in the world? Is it any wonder so many people just can’t seem to get along with others? Is it any wonder why social media has turned into such a quagmire (LOL) of opposite viewpoints, why it has become a popular pulpit for any snake oil salesman or huckster, and why so many are willing to stand in line to purchase the snake oil?

We are just damned complicated!

The Beauty of These Walks

These walks are like a decompression chamber for divers with the bends, you know? I find peace on these walks. I find companionship with my two dogs, no negativity, no judgments, no chastising.

I find neighbors willing to say hello without shouting slogans. I find fellow human beings just trudging along similar paths, and I find human beings pushing through the mud and guck, trying to find dry ground. These walks give me a greater insight into my dogs, for sure, but they also provide insight into my fellow passengers on this Inter-Galactic spaceship called Earth. All that’s required of me is to have an open mind and be willing to reach out and welcome with a “hello,” and that seems like a very simple thing for me to do.

February has moved into March as I finish this reflection. Buds are appearing. Birds serenade. The temp broke sixty the other day, cause for celebration, and the rains are fewer and far-less punishing.

Life is good!

Three simple words, but for the longest of times, those words escaped me. I was literally incapable of grasping them . . . life is good!

It took two dogs, a loving woman, a large handful of online friends, and the willingness to grow spiritually, for those words to appear in my life.

Life is good!

Thanks so much for joining us. You can find us every single day, Olympia, Washington, where the pavement ends and the wonders begin.

2021 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

Comments

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 24, 2021:

Thanks Heidi! I know what you're saying about socializing dogs. Happily, where we go, everyone knows everyone, and all the dogs get along. I have more troubles on walks around the neighborhood. That's where I'll come across a dog off leash, and it annoys me greatly.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on March 23, 2021:

We have a number of dog parks in the area. But I never bring my dogs there. I just don't trust the 2-legged animals. I've just run across too many instances (like at community events) where people have no control over their dogs, and haven't socialized them either. One of our neighbor dogs got attacked at the local dog park and had a visit to the ER. I think it depends on the community.

However, if I knew it was just Maggie and Toby at the park with you, I'd be there.

Your pups are adorable! Thanks for taking us along!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 22, 2021:

Genna, welcome back! I'm so sorry to hear about your accident, but I'm also thrilled that you are well enough to write this comment. Take care, my friend, speedy recovery, and thank you very much. Toby and Maggie send their best to you.

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on March 21, 2021:

Hi Bill. I've so missed your stories. (Sorry I'm so late, but am healing slowly and getting better each day. Am still trying to master the art with this newfangled, "what were they thinking" comment format from our masters and HP.)

I so loved the dog park...as many as 15 dogs, and everyone knows everyone's name. Sis and Bro are so different...I get such a kick out of reading about their individualities -- Toby's playfulness and endless energy, and Maggie's nuzzling and loving connection with human affection. The snow day that followed was fun for all. Thank you for sharing these touching and beautiful walks with us, Bill.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 18, 2021:

Thanks Bill! Happy Thursday to you. I hope you are still enjoying your time in Florida.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 18, 2021:

Seven, Chrish? My goodness! You have your hands full, but I'm sure you are capable of loving them all. Blessings to you, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 18, 2021:

They are multi-talented dogs for sure, Flourish. :) I would love to hear your unusual words some day.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 18, 2021:

Denise, I can't imagine a better time to philosophize than on these walks. The dogs bring out the best in me, for sure.

Thank you and blessings always

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 18, 2021:

MG, I love all manner of dogs. I find them to be the epitome of unbridled love and loyalty, no matter their size.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 18, 2021:

Linda, you said a mouthful there, my friend. It is humbling. I sometimes wonder if I'm capable of giving them as much love in return as they give me. I hope I'm always up to that task.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 18, 2021:

Thank you Louise! I hope spring has found you folks in Norfolk!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 18, 2021:

Ah, Barcelona! Thank you for the clarification, Misbah, and blessings to you always.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 18, 2021:

Thank you, Greg! I've asked that same question of myself. What did I ever do to earn such affection? I have no answer, but I'm sure glad I did whatever it was I did. :) Have a great Thursday, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 18, 2021:

Thank you EK! For me, it all boils down to those simple words...life is good! I certainly plan on living my life according to that simple philosophy.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 18, 2021:

Thank you for joining us, Rosina! It was nice having your company on this walk.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 18, 2021:

Cheers indeed, Mr. Happy, and yes, our dogs are happy and yes, they are loved and treated with great respect.

Have a great day, my friend!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 18, 2021:

I totally agree with you,. Chitrangada Sharan! Life is good, and everything has fallen into place for me.

Blessings always

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on March 18, 2021:

Another wonderful outing with the dogs. I do think they make us better human beings. I think it’s great that they have different personalities. And yes, life is good. Have a great day, Bill.

Chrish Canosa from Manila Philippines on March 18, 2021:

I've been parenting 7 fur babys 4male and 3 female, I must say- it is a serious obligation haha. They are an angel in a very well disguise. No question Sir Bill about human nature, " the most critical species that ever existed " after all, life is beautiful. Life is very Good. Hugs and kisses to your angels!

Have a wonderful day.

FlourishAnyway from USA on March 17, 2021:

Those dogs have quite a vocabulary! There are unusual words that I have a liking for as well.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on March 17, 2021:

It seems these dog walks bring out the philosopher in you. You are somehow freed up to think deep thoughts while Toby fathoms the depths of the nearest quagmire. Lovely walking with you and philosophizing with you. Till next time.

Blessings,

Denise

MG Singh emge from Singapore on March 17, 2021:

What a wonderful article. I love dogs and have 2 as pets but here is the difference my liking is for the big dogs. More on that later.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on March 17, 2021:

Toby is the Peter Pan, the boy who will never grow up. He's your class clown and knows his job is to entertain you and make you laugh. Maggie, God bless her, has the job of caring for you, and she takes this task very seriously. To be loved by an animal is humbling, isn't it? Thanks for allowing me to tag along today. It's always a good day with the 4 of you.

Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on March 17, 2021:

Aww, I love your dogs, they're so lovely. I'm glad to see the snow has all cleared up.

Misbah Sheikh from The World of Poets on March 17, 2021:

Mr. Bill, People here in Barcelona love to have dogs

I am glad that a friend in the neighborhood is helping me out with this phobia

Blessings

greg cain from Idaho, USA on March 17, 2021:

Life. Is. Good. It really is. I got a lump in my throat, too, when you talked about Maggie and the unconditional love. My own dog is the same way, and I often wonder what I did to earn such undying affection. Anyway, the sun is showing its face here in ID today, so I'll be heading off to the dog park myself. My Jesse is old and doesn't run so well, but she loves being untethered for a time. Good week, Bill.

EK Jadoon from Abbottabad Pakistan on March 17, 2021:

Looks like your dogs are your good companions. For some time now, a question has been circulating in my mind as to why man finally needed to befriend animals.

I got the answer through your article. Incredible words, "life is good". Keep up the good work.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 17, 2021:

I hear you, Brenda! Human nature is so complicated, isn't it? It seems so easy to at least say hello, and yet many people I pass don't even make eye contact. My goodness, where is the harm in that???

Happy St. Patrick's Day, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 17, 2021:

Mary, I say that every single morning when I wake up, a constant reminder against my darker nature, that life is good. It is so important to remember, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 17, 2021:

Peggy, I don't know of many situations where a dog hurt the ambiance. I think you might be onto something, my friend. Maybe we should have a law passed?

Happy St. Patrick's Day to you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 17, 2021:

Thank you Pamela! I always appreciate you tagging along with us. Maggie and Toby say hi!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 17, 2021:

Thank you John! Yes, they are completely different, and I love that they are. All of us with our own special gifts, yes?

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 17, 2021:

They really are vital during this pandemic, Liz, giving us all a chance to get out and interact with neighbors and passersby.

Happy St. Patrick's Day to you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 17, 2021:

I did not know that, Misbah, about Pakistanis and dogs. What a shame that is. I'm sorry to hear about that. My goodness, I can't imagine living here in the U.S. and not having a dog. Very interesting indeed.

Blessings to you, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 17, 2021:

One year, Manatita! Unbelievable! But the good news is we made it, and we carry on with our quest to spread love, and that's very encouraging indeed. Blessings to you always, my friend. Stay safe!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 17, 2021:

Thank you Paul! I appreciate you tagging along on our walk.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 17, 2021:

I appreciate those kind words, Ravi. I set out to write in a conversational style, and I'm happy that you enjoy it.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 17, 2021:

Thank you, Ann! Perfect summary of a dog's philosophy...race you to the next snow drift! LOL Thanks for the laugh, my friend, and have a fantastic St. Patrick's Day.

bill

Rosina S Khan on March 17, 2021:

It was wonderful to take the walk journey with your dogs. I am glad you feel at the end "Life is good". That really shows the the walk and fun with the dogs were worthy. I am ready to take the next walk with your dogs again so that I feel good at the end too. Happy Wednesday, Bill.

Mr. Happy from Toronto, Canada on March 17, 2021:

I'm glad "Life is good"! : )

The furry friends certainly look happy and that's a sign to me about the owners (a good sign lol).

I was going to comment on "quagmire" but I'm not. All You have to do is search YouTube for "Quagmire - Family Guy" and You'd see why I am keeping quiet. That word ... lol

"Everyone knows everyone’s name" - Here's the song for that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-mi0r0LpXo

And as the title said: "Cheers!"

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on March 17, 2021:

Hello Bill!

I enjoyed the walk along, and found it to be therapeutic.

Life is good- - If we say it, and truly believe these words, everything will fall into place, ultimately.

Thank you for sharing this wonderful article.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on March 17, 2021:

Bill,

It sounds like a lot of fun at the schoolyard now turned doggie park.

I hope the city one day makes it official instead of building something useless there.

I can picture toby jumping high like Tigger and Maggie scooping up the snow with her nose. Such fun!

It is strange how on my walks at the park people actually speak...while my neighbors can barely form a hello. Definitely not like the days I was raised.

Take care & have a wonderful week.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on March 17, 2021:

Hi Bill. Life is good. I wish to say this everyday even if I got news of death of Lily, my friend dog in the Cottage. I wish I could have seen her another summer but it is not meant to be. I know how hard it is for our friend who owns Lily because he lives on his own but such is life and I think it it is good. Our grandson and his partner saw how many friends they have gained because of their dog. They make us more human.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on March 17, 2021:

The joy of those walks with Maggie and Toby is contagious. It makes me think back to all the many walks and joyful times we had with our dogs through the years. People do appear more friendly and open when with their dogs.

Perhaps there is a remedy for the world's ills. Pet therapy works in many situations, such as hospital visits, and I have read about some in settings like prisons. Perhaps if everyone grew up with a pet dog, the world would be a better place. What do you think?

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on March 17, 2021:

This is a lovely walk in the park and I love those dogs. They are so cute. I'm glad the weather is improving for you. I thought you included the perfect songs as well. Thank you, Bill.

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on March 17, 2021:

What a wonderful time at the dog park. It seems Maggie and Toby have totally different personalities, but people are certainly much more complicated. A good read Bill, as always.

Liz Westwood from UK on March 17, 2021:

Thanks for takinv your readers on a virtual dog walk. In the UK in recent months of lockdown dogwalks have become an even more valuable activity for many.

Misbah Sheikh from The World of Poets on March 17, 2021:

Yes Mr. Bill, life is good, in fact very good

We just forget to enjoy it as we get so busy in the hassle of life

You know, This is not the first time when I saw Maggie

Once John also uploaded her photo on one of his poem with a caption Bill's dog at that time, I was not following you, but the moment I saw her picture here, I remembered where I saw her for the first time

The moment when first time here I disclosed about my Cynophobia

Yes, Mr. Bill, Maggie is cute, a lot of time, happened with me that I like some dogs when they are walking from a distance, I like their playful nature too but I can’t resist my fear

You know almost half of the Pakistani people fear dogs because we have a lot of street dogs in Pakistan and they can bite, anyone, anywhere whenever they want

Thanks for sharing

Blessings

manatita44 from london on March 17, 2021:

Even the rains won't create a 'quagmire' from this super-excellent writing, Bro. Another masterpiece! Life is good indeed!!

Who would have thought so, when our nemesis-friend, left Wuhan in anger, on one mightily-troubled evening last penultimate winter?

Yes, most of your last paragraph is called 'samskara (Habits/impressions). They bind us and sadhana (Spiritual practice), is an act of transforming these bad habits of life-times. Lol. No easy task!

Morning/afternoon, Bro. No sun here, but the sky's clear, as I listen to the silent whispers of Mother Gaia, telling of the renewal of her seasons ...life!

Love those dogs, Bev, you and your exquisite musings. No quagmire at all, Bro, or at least one with which I hold a close affinity. Peace.

Paul K Francis from east coast,USA on March 17, 2021:

I enjoyed that little journey. Have a great day.

Ravi Rajan from Mumbai on March 17, 2021:

Interesting Bill.No doubt the walk with the dogs in tow is a very liberating experience. I love your topic selection here. You have the craft of making seemingly normal stuff exciting with words. Thanks for sharing.

Ann Carr from SW England on March 17, 2021:

Wonderful! Wonderful dogs, wonderful walks, wonderful people. The snow does make us come alive, doesn't it? Dogs seem to go mad and dance for joy, suddenly realising they can jump higher than they ever have before.

What a shame humans can't just let go and have fun, simply and with innocence. We should learn from our animal friends. As for them trying to work us out, well I expect they gave up on that one long ago. They have that sixth sense and they use it well. 'Those humans, you gotta laugh, they have no idea what life is about! Race you to the next snow drift!'

Enjoy the rest of the week, bill, and I hope Maggie and Toby do too.

Ann

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