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Travels With Maggie: Unconditional Loyalty

The Gandhi of the Dog World

Welcome back! We are so happy you could join us on this walk. You are always welcome to join us, us being me and my dog Maggie, sixty pounds of four-legged teacher. Maggie is actually Bev’s dog but, like most human beings, I like to take credit for special things, even when I have no ground to stand on.

The chickens have been fed, the eggs have been collected, so it’s time for that walk. Let’s go!

Maggie is a gentle soul. She’s never met a child she didn’t like. She patiently endures the torture of our new pup, Maggie’s brother by the same parents, different litter, Tobias by name. She is trusting of adults once she’s had a sniff or two unless, of course, they are untrustworthy. Daily she walks among the chickens, sniffing, nudging, but never hurting, and even the peacocks, which she instinctively knows to herd out of the chicken area, are safe from her bite. I’ve seen her corner a peacock on numerous occasions, but she is never aggressive in that cornering.

All of which makes the following story all the more remarkable.

Maggie and her little brother Toby!

Maggie and her little brother Toby!

One Day Among the Evergreens

Probably six months back, just preparing for another walk, through the gate and Maggie froze in place. A sniff of the air, a quick glance to the right and then, as if shot from a cannon, Maggie was off running into the pasture in chase of a coyote, hackles up, growling, snarling really, her intention quite clear.

From placid walk to what could only be described as a possible life-threatening situation in the blink of the proverbial eye. My Maggie girl is sixty pounds of passivity and domesticity. That particular coyote appeared to be about sixty pounds of wild nature unleashed. Domestic dog vs wild predator, and I gotta tell ya, visions of vet bills danced in my brain like fairies from a long-forgotten ballet. This encounter was not going to turn out well for anyone involved . . . especially, I was sure, for Maggie.

Several things struck me about that encounter.

Instinctively Maggie knew there was danger. It was her first encounter with any predator on the farm, but she automatically recognized that coyote as a threat.

And she never hesitated. To Maggie, threat equaled protection, and every ounce of my loving, gentle, peaceful dog was transformed into a rabid protector of the farm . . . and, in a role reversal . . . my guardian.

It was a frightening moment, my heart beating to the sounds of a thousand ancient war drums, the taste of adrenaline rising in my throat, as Maggie sprinted across that pasture, closing in on the coyote, a vicious encounter surely to follow until . . .

The coyote climbed over a wire fence and found freedom, Maggie stopping at the property line, one more quick glance at the interloper, and then a casual jog back to me.


Reflections Back to 1969

Me and my best buddy, Frank, eating a snack in the Student Union Building of Seattle University, about ten at night, enjoying some juke box sounds after a day of living, learning, and tilting windmills. We had just finished our snack when an acquaintance of ours, Wally by name, sat down with a grilled cheese sandwich and fries. We had known Wally for two years, shared some classes with him, knew him mostly as a gentle giant, about six-three, two-fifty if an ounce, a Business major, just random, surface stuff you pick up through conversations. Wally would never be a close friend but he was a hi, how ya doing, what’s new kind of casual buddy.

So Wally sits down, mutters hello, and I reach over and grab one of his fries, a common occurrence at college, free-for-all around food for twenty-year olds, nothing abnormal about it, when suddenly Wally flies out of his seat, climbs over the table, and has his hands around my throat. His intentions were not to casually warn me but rather to eliminate me, and I can say, with no embarrassment, that I was overmatched and scared shitless.

That’s when Frank did a “Maggie.” Frank, no bigger than me, outweighed and out-muscled by Wally by a good seventy pounds, climbed on Wally’s back, put his arms around his neck, and started to squeeze his displeasure with Wally’s actions. Wally stood up straight, Frank holding on for dear life, and Wally tried his damnedest to shake Frank off, to no avail, me on the floor wondering how the hell my night had turned so shitty so fast.

And just like that it was over.

Wally tapped out, visibly gave up, all hostility left him, and it was over. Frank released Wally, Wally walked out the door, and was gone.

Four years later Wally was institutionalized by the courts, a danger to one and all.

You just never know!

Parental guidance!

Parental guidance!

Other Memories

I can go further back, back to discussions with my dad when I was a kid, him imparting whatever wisdom he had gathered during his short life. At one time he was talking to me about loyalty, family, and friends.

“Bill, there are some things in life a man just can’t waver on,” he told me. “A man must always be loyal and protective to family and friends. It might, at some point, require you to step into harm’s way. There might be a chance of you getting hurt, but you have to do it, and I’ll tell you why, Bill: Because the pain from stepping into a fight isn’t anything compared to the pain of walking away and letting your friends and family down. That kind of pain, that pain of spirit, that will haunt a man his entire life.”

My buddy Frank instinctively understood what my dad had talked about.

Maggie understood, as well, that day with the coyote.

Family has family’s back! Friends are loyal to other friends.

It’s a pretty simple credo to live by, and I’ve never forgotten it.

A Quiet Moment

Just the other day, Maggie and I were sitting in the car, waiting for Bev to come out of work at the end of a long day. Maggie had her head in my lap and I was petting her, and I suddenly felt my eyes watering up while petting my girl. It felt like an odd moment at first, just me randomly crying while petting my dog, but I was just overcome with emotions of love for that animal, her unconditional loyalty, her bravery, and the fact that, to her, I was damned near the most important being in the world. And I thought back to Frank, and I thought back to my dad and, well, the tears flowed.

That’s just who I am today, and I’m happy because of it.

Maggie sends her love. Come join us next week. We’d love to walk with you if you can find the time.

© 2019 Bill Holland


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

Isn't that the truth, Lawrence? I swear Maggie knows exactly what time it is during the day...when Bev will come home...when I eat lunch...when we go to the farm. Who needs a watch when you can have a dog instead?

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on May 23, 2019:


Reading about Maggie reminded me my Mum used to say she didnt need a clock, she could tell the time by watching our Dogs.

Every day at 3.30 they'd be at the upstairs window watching, as soon as they saw whom they were waiting for they'd bolt down the stairs and the door better be open as they were going straight through.

I'd be half way across the park across the road when they got to me,and that was just them saying "hello"

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 03, 2019:

Thank you Mary! I love that story of Lilly...talk about great loyalty!!!

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on May 02, 2019:

You reminded me of Lilly, our friend's dog who visits me everyday when I am at the cottage. When I'm not there, she still goes to our cottage and stays at the door waiting. I have so many dog friends during the summer and soon I will see them. Looking at Maggie, she is so lovable.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 02, 2019:

He was there...that is a great testimonial for any of us, Eric. Thanks for sharing that.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on April 29, 2019:

Maybe irreverent but both Maggie and Frank remind me of my elder son. We are no strangers to dangers butts are covered. I hope my son sees me as his Maggie also. He just saved me on a swing on a climbing rope,endangering himself to my aid.Thank goodness he did not need to.

But he was there.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 29, 2019:

I think you have very friendly dogs, William. lol Thanks so much for your kind following and support.

William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on April 29, 2019:

Such a beautiful story, Bill. We've had strangers come to the door and all my dog does is wag her tail. What's that about!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 28, 2019:

Ann, I'm mighty glad you paid attention to your two labs. I am convinced dogs know. A wise person will pay close attention to the messages dogs send. Like you said, spot on.

A wicked weekend it has been, and it's only half-done. The same to you, my friend.


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 28, 2019:

She's wagging her tail, Zulma! You are a friend for life.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 28, 2019:

I will tell her you said that, Dee. Thank you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 28, 2019:

Thank you Heidi! Toby is a handful for sure, but we just love animals. What can I say?

Happy Weekend to you my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 28, 2019:

Thank you Dora! Maggie sends her love.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 28, 2019:

You having my six, Sean, means a great deal to me. Thank you and love always.


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 28, 2019:

John, thank you! I can tell you, without hesitation, that I am learning a great deal about life from my dog.

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on April 28, 2019:

Sounds like Maggie understands what your Dad was talking about. Who's a good girl? You are, Miss Maggie.

Dianna Mendez on April 27, 2019:

Maggie is such a hero! I am enjoying my walks with her.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on April 26, 2019:

Miss Maggie! You are a role model. Standing up for your rights and family, but with a live and let live policy.

And Maggie has a new little brother? Oh my! You said you're "retired," right? That's starting a second career.

Love the Maggie stories, and I'm sure we'll get some Tobias stories soon, too. Happy weekend!

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on April 26, 2019:

Reflection with tears is often a heartfelt experience. Maggie's friendly protection is touching on many levels. Enjoyed the read.

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

Thank you for being a reminder of some good things, Brother! I'm grateful. I send my Love and my Gratitude to Maggie and you!

Don't look back, I got your six!


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

Thank you Ellison. Give those dogs a hug for me, will ya?

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

They are for sure, Audrey. Maggie says thank you for the compliment.

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

Exactly, my friend....I don't know your granddaughter, but I admire her.

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

I'm with you on loyalty, Pop! Paramount it is.

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

I'm glad you enjoyed it, Eman. Thank you!

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

I learned a pretty valuable lesson that day, Flourish. People are not always what they seem to be.

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

Thanks Sha! Toby does have big feet, doesn't he? I hope he doesn't become a giant. We won't be able to afford his food. :)

Ellison Hartley from Maryland, USA on April 26, 2019:

Love this, dogs are amazing. I have three. Two bloodhounds and my little ride or die lap dog ,Ziva

Ann Carr from SW England on April 26, 2019:

I had two labrador-cross sisters who were as daft as anything; crazy and had always been friends with everyone. One day, the door bell sounded. I opened the door and there stood a man I didn't know and I felt suspicious of (also unlike me). The dogs were behind me, growling low and hackles raised. I'd never seen them like that before. I told him whatever he was selling I wasn't interested and I quickly shut the door.

I never saw the dogs behave like that again. Did they get my vibes or vibes from him? Who knows but I was so glad they were there as back-up.

Loyal friends will go through thick and thin for you and that bit about the pain of letting someone down being worse than physical pain, that's spot on.

I love this series of yours, bill. It's so gentle yet conveys important messages.

Have a wicked weekend!


John Hansen from Gondwana Land on April 25, 2019:

I am glad I came for the walk with you and Maggie today Bill. It is hard to explain the feeling when one of your pets attacks a predator to protect you with no thought to their own safety. That' s happened to me more than once. Also good life lessons from your dad. mine instilled the same morals in me...protect your family, no matter what. we can learn so much from the unconditional love of our animals.

Audrey Howitt from California on April 25, 2019:

Aren't dogs wonderful in so many ways? Maggie is a great one. Thanks for taking us on your walk with her

RoadMonkey on April 25, 2019:

Great story, lovely dog and great friend. Something similar happened some months ago. A new girl in the area came to call for one of my granddaughters, aged 12. She was a bit younger but taller and a lot heavier. Up in the bedroom, she started throwing things round, then attacked my granddaughter. Another granddaughter, only 7 years old and slight, jumped on the girl's back and got her off her cousin.

breakfastpop on April 25, 2019:

Your Dad was a very wise man. For me loyalty is paramount, and Maggie clearly understands the meaning of the word.

Eman Abdallah Kamel from Egypt on April 25, 2019:

What an impressive story. Our parents always teach us simple beliefs and ideas that we live and do not forget. I liked reading the part of other memories so much.

FlourishAnyway from USA on April 25, 2019:

Glad Wally tapped out before he could make you tap out. There's something very predatory about someone who pounces upon an unsuspecting buddy (or foe) rather than squaring off with him honestly.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on April 25, 2019:

This is a very touching story, Bill. You've learned well and are fortunate to have the kind of love and loyalty that cloaks you like a warm, fuzzy blanket.

Tobias is a cutey pie! My what big feet he has! Pretty soon, he'll be accompanying you and Maggie on your walks. I'll bet she's a great teacher.

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

My first reaction is to say yes, Linda. I am loyal to those I love, but I am also loyal to people I don't love....would that be possible if they were one and the same?

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on April 25, 2019:

Oh gosh Bill, with that last section I was crying with you. I have a question. You speak of love, and you speak of loyalty. Is there a difference?

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

Thanks Shannon! It's not every day you almost die over a french fry. lol

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

Maggie is one of my best features, Ruby! Thank you so much.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on April 25, 2019:

They tell me crying is good for the soul, so my soul should be strong because you caused a tear with your story. It was so vivid. I could actually see you and Maggie in the car. I love your stories. Maggie is a winner!

Shannon Henry from Texas on April 25, 2019:

Thankfully your friend was there to save you! There are certainly better ways to tell someone taking a fry is a fighting offense.

Animals are wonderful examples of unconditional love and loyalty. Thanks for sharing.

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

Pamela, I have not snatched fries since that day. Lesson learned!!! lol Thank you!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on April 25, 2019:

I love how dogs, like Maggie, can love humans yet sense danger immediately. "Man's best friend" barely covers their love and devotion.

I imagine snatching french fries from a big dude's plate might have come to an end for you. What an awful story! Obviously, he ended up in the right place.

Have some great walks this week.

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