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Travels With Maggie: Tobias Goes Solo

On the Mend

As many of you know, Maggie was spayed two weeks ago. As a result, she was unable to accompany me to the farm for a couple days as she recuperated from the operation, freeing me up to take her brother Tobias on a solo farm journey.

Would you like to join is?

Maggie recuperating

Maggie recuperating

Unbridled Curiosity

Is it possible for a puppy to have ADHD? That’s what Tobias reminds me of, hyperactivity unchecked, willy-nilly to the tenth degree, an owner’s headache waiting to happen. There are days when the only thing that saves Tobias is the fact he’s so damned affectionate. Toby is the cuddler in bed. Toby is the sibling who will climb up into my lap at night while we watch television. His sister will not…does not…do those things. So Toby gets a free pass on much of his rambunctious behavior.

Like toilet-papering the living room before we left for the farm.

Proud as hell he was, one end of the toilet-paper in his mouth, a clear trail back to the bathroom, a good half-roll spread out for all to see. I was mad-as-hell and laughing my butt off, which, as you might suspect, is hard to do. It’s really not possible for me to be angry with Tobias, just as 99% of parents would say it’s almost impossible to truly be incensed by the children they love. A heat of the moment harsh word, perhaps, but true anger? One look at Toby’s adorable face and I forget what I was all worked up about.

Anyway, I finally got him in the truck (he doesn’t like car rides, they make him car-sick) and we were off to the farm, toilet paper still stuck on his chin which, come to think of it, would be handy if he got sick in the truck.

The chickens were looking for the nightmare to end

The chickens were looking for the nightmare to end

Adhd and Chickens

Chickens are nervous birds. They do not like sudden movements. They do not like loud sounds. They certainly do not like an out-of-control puppy chasing them around Chicken Town and barking his damned head off. If the chickens could talk they would have called for a meeting with management and told me, in no uncertain terms, that they would be going on strike if Tobias ever set foot in their workplace again.

My boy was a mess from start to finish during the chicken-feeding process. The toilet paper on his chin was replaced by tail feathers. He took a liking to the fermented chicken feed and the five-grain scratch. He nosed and prodded and annoyed and aggravated, all with carefree abandon, not a mean bone in his body but rather an out-of-control locomotive on a short track, the bull in the china closet coming to mind as the birds found refuge on top of the coops, pouring down disapproval in my direction.

Time for the Walk

He was much better on the walk; no leash and open land for Tobias, and he took to it like a slug takes to damp. Dogs need those moments. I understand the need for leashes in the city, but in the country a dog needs to run free, Hercules Unchained, the way a dog was meant to do. For a puppy, exploration is a must. The world is one unending classroom, and classrooms shouldn’t have restrictions. Learn as you go, sniff, prod, jump, bark, roll in the dirt, categorize smells, categorize sounds, what is safe, what is danger, it is all there for a puppy to learn from, and walks like this one will help Tobias to adjust to life and better handle whatever comes at him in the future.

Truthfully it is that way for all of us. As children this is what we do. I was lucky enough to grow up in a time when lawsuits and suffocating restrictions were not placed on us. The only words of wisdom given to us as we headed out the door were “be careful,” but even that was open to interpretation, for what does a child, or pre-teen, know about careful? We were turned loose to explore, no leash restricting us. We learned from our experiences and the outcomes of those experiences. Climbing a tree was liberating; a lack of caution and care could lead to sprained ankles or broken bones; exercise enough caution and you sat atop the neighborhood, a bird’s eye view of a world unseen from solid ground.

Run too fast and you might fall. Fail to look for oncoming traffic and you might get hit. It was all pretty simple back then, and our parents, God rest their souls, were willing to let us learn at our own pace, in our own way, even though I’m sure they spent many hours concerned for our welfare.

So I turn Tobias loose, as I did with his sister Maggie, and I allow him to find out for himself what this exciting new world has in store for him, and I smile watching him, and I think back, long ago, when I was that pup, and it warms my cockles. Bob Segar would say “working on mysteries without any clue,” and I want Tobias to experience that liberating adventure.

Best of friends

Best of friends

Time to Head Home

Back in the truck, reluctantly, for Tobias still is not fond of driving, but he settles down on the front seat, his head in my lap as I drive. Tobias is nothing if not affectionate. We make a quick five minutes of it and arrive safely at home, Tobias rushing in the house to his sister. Messages are shared, he and Maggie, she asking him how he liked it, he telling her all about it, the wonder of it all, those things that frightened him, those that mystified him, and she listening patiently from her recovery position, the all-knowing big sister “putting up” with the younger sibling, but doing it with obvious pride and doggy love.

They rest then, he exhausted from the experience, she exhausted as her body recuperates, both of them side-by-side on the floor, sharing common ground, sharing common genes, bonded for life and me lucky enough to be a part of it all.

Growing up I had the best buddy a boy could ask for. Pixie was her name, a runt of a dog, several breeds of Terrier rolled into one dynamo, and Pixie was my buddy for seventeen years, the best of the best, what every child needs growing up. I waited fifty years to find that feeling again, but Maggie and Tobias have delivered.

My step-daughter, Allora, recently graduated from college. I wanted to tell her to have fun but be careful, to enjoy life but also be wary, but I didn’t say those things. She needs to find out for herself. She needs to experience life with reckless abandon. She needs to find her own way out of the mazes, and she needs to soar with the angels without having her wings clipped. Learning and understanding only come from experience and this, too, she will learn in time.

My journey, a circular one of sorts, with all manner of tangents, learning as I go, working on mysteries without any clues, and now Maggie and Tobias will join me for the last leg of that journey . . . and ain’t that just too cool for words?

Thanks for joining us! It’s always a pleasure when you stroll along the lane with us on a sunny day.

© 2019 Bill Holland