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Travels With Maggie: Understanding Each Other

Updated on June 5, 2019

The Farm Interactions

We’ve already taken our walk today, but you are welcome to join us as we sit under a fir tree and learn about farm animal interactions. What say you? Do you have ten minutes to waste doing nothing? It just might be good for you. One never knows, you know, a play on words, for sure, from an apprentice wordsmith . . . not from Maggie . . . Maggie doesn’t talk, of course, she being a dog.

Ah, there you are! So glad you decided to sit with me while Maggie “walks her rounds” on the farm. It’s a perfect day for observing, don’t you think? Mid-seventies, nary a breeze, puffy-whites slowly marching by overhead; let’s watch Maggie and see what she’s up to today.

Maggie and the Farm Animals

When we first started going to the farm, Maggie was cautiously curious about all manner of animals. She was just a pup then, with no worldly experience, and the farm was overcrowded with strange new animals for her to investigate and interact with. All Maggie knew prior to those first few farm visits were other dogs and humans, so the new world of the farm must have been quite a cultural experience for her.

Horses intimated her from the start, seriously large, frightening for sure, she barked and circled them whenever they approached. The bark was not so much an angry exclamation as it was an “I’m unsure of you so let’s keep our distance” bark, and it went on for weeks. Gradually, however, the volume and the nature of the bark changed, from loud, constant, and tinged with apprehension, to occasional, not nearly as loud, and more greeting than warning. Her tail, which in those early days slumped, began to rise, and today, nearly two years later, Maggie and the horses coexist, most certainly not best of friends but also not potential enemies.

Who Doesn’t Like a Goat?

The goats were less intimidating from the start, not much larger than Maggie, potential playmates for sure. You could just tell from Maggie’s mannerisms that no fear existed, no concerns for her welfare, just curiosity run rampant as Maggie roamed among the sixty-odd ruminants. She was on solid ground, my Maggie, with the goats, and her herding instincts kicked in shortly after the first meeting.

Peacocks were not tolerated from the very beginning, their flashy flamboyance an annoyance to Maggie, or perhaps a signal of danger, whatever, but in Maggie’s eye a peacock meant removal from the premises, and for two years nothing has changed Maggie’s mind about them. See a peacock, chase a peacock, that’s Maggie’s mantra when facing off with them in her version of Tombstone, she the Earps, they the Clantons.

Who Else Is out There?

Sheep and llamas, other dogs and cats, toss in an occasional pig, each one elicited a different response from my Maggie girl, the reasons for those responses locked firmly in Maggie’s psyche. Why would she like a pig but not a llama? Why bark at one dog and not another? And why did one coyote-sighting send my mild-mannered dog into a homicidal rage, having never seen a coyote before? Those are just some of the questions I have asked myself over these past twenty-three months.

Back in Time

Let me take you back to 1966, my freshman year at Seattle University, a small Liberal Arts college located in the Central District of Seattle, Central District a synonym for “the black neighborhood.”

In 1966, at the age of eighteen, I had never met a black person. Writing that now I find that to be an amazing statement, but it’s true nonetheless. I grew up in the North End of Tacoma, Washington, and on any given day, on any given walk, on any given drive through the North End, you would not see a Negro. Period! Not a single one! There were none in my elementary school for sure, and not one in my high school. There were none in our congregation at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church.

None as in zero!

The same could be said about Asians and Hispanics. Not one . . . zero . . . I saw them on television back in those days. It was the only way I knew they actually existed, and I’m not being facetious when I write that.

So 1966 was an eye-opener for this boy. I was suddenly surrounded by black families. A walk of two blocks would be a walk into another culture, one I had no information about. Inside the dormitory could be found Asians, real life Asians, and Hawaiians and Hispanics and all other manner of human beings, all with different backgrounds, all with different beliefs, all comprising a strange new world for William Dale Holland, white-bred and terribly ignorant.

It took some getting used to, to say the least.

Was I afraid of them? I don’t think that would be accurate, looking back. I don’t remember fear so much as curiosity. They were different in appearance. They were an unknown, and as such I wanted more information, the type of information which only comes from experiencing firsthand, and so we went about our day-to-day, rubbing shoulders with each other, eating with each other, laughing and playing practical jokes with each other, and helping each other to survive that first year of academia.

Some became good friends. Others did not make the “cut,” but all evaluations were based on personality and not ethnicity.

Perhaps the Greatest Reward

Looking back, perhaps that was the greatest reward I received from my college days. The degrees were simply words on parchment, certificates to be saved in dusty boxes for decades. Friendships came, and went, as is always the case with college, eventually becoming names associated with class pictures and little more. But the realization that we are all the same, regardless of color or social status or whatever other distinguishing characteristic you may choose to declare important, that was the greatest gift college presented to me, and the one I cherish the most.

In learning that lesson I rose above the education level of my parents and grandparents. They had access to the classroom of life but chose not to learn the valuable lesson of inclusion. I was eager and willing.

We Soon Will Have Another Join Us

Maggie’s brother Tobias will be joining us on our farm walks soon, and I have no doubt Maggie will spend a considerable amount of time introducing her brother to the horses, goats, llama, pigs, and assorted other inhabitants of the farm. I also have no doubt lessons Maggie has learned will be passed down to her smart-as-a-whip brother, and those will be lessons of tolerance and an understanding that differences do not exclude cohabitation on this beautiful planet of ours. Fear of the unknown can only be eradicated by actually facing the unknown. Ignorance can only be cast away by a willingness to learn.

And love can only be given by a loving heart!

Thanks for joining us. Same time, same place, next week. We hope you are able to join us.

And for those of you who asked, Maggie is doing well after being spayed this past week. She cruised through it like the warrior princess she is, thank you very much. I expected nothing less from her.

Just a man and his dog, walking down a country road.

Bill

“When I wake up every morning, I smile and say, 'Thank you.' Because out of my window I can see the mountains, then go hiking with my dog and share her bounding joy in the world.” Carole King

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    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you PS! There will always be room for you along the path. Come join us any old time, please.

      Blessings and love winging their way to you.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks for sharing that, Peggy! I found it fascinating when I finally went to college and saw all of those races I had only seen on television. :)

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      3 months ago from North Central Florida

      Yes...having the opportunity to learn about and become friends with many from other cultures and races has made me feel so blessed. Maggie and you have shared a lovely walk with us. Thank you, Bill. Angels winging their way to you this afternoon.ps

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      3 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Where I attended school at St. Joan of Arc Catholic School in Okauchee, Wisconsin as a child in the 1950s, there was not a mixture of cultures. That changed immediately when my parents moved to McAllen, Texas, in 1960. After becoming a nurse, I lived in a nurse's dorm in the middle of the Texas Medical Center. The mixture of cultures in that dorm was like the United Nations. I loved it! So I can definitely relate to your story.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      11 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I think so too, Lawrence,and your dad was a wise and insightful man.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 

      11 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Bill

      I worked with my Dad from the age of 10 onwards, the one thing he used to point out was 'don't matter the colour, or creed, God made us all'

      I think thats what Maggie will show her brother.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      11 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Miebakagh!

    • Miebakagh57 profile image

      Miebakagh Fiberesima 

      11 months ago from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA.

      Noted well.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      11 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Coming next week by popular demand, Bill. :)

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      11 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you always, Miebakagh!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      11 months ago from Olympia, WA

      You are a good man, Eric, and I hate to think where you and I would be without others who love us.

      Happy Fathers Day, buddy!

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      11 months ago from Massachusetts

      Enjoyed this week's walk with Maggie. Great to hear that her brother,Tobias, will be joining the walks soon. Can't wait to hear how he does with the farm animals. Have a great weekend, Bill

    • Miebakagh57 profile image

      Miebakagh Fiberesima 

      11 months ago from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA.

      Well noted, please.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      11 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Bill I am so co-dependent they could write a book on me. Without your Bev or me and my Hang --- forget about it. By golly bajeebers we would not even know each other. Assume you are great and you are, Blame God! And then thank the angel he sent you.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      11 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I don't do well alone, Eric. I finally figured that out, thankfully. Bev better outlive me or there will be hell to pay.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      11 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thanks buddy.I get it. Funny but the worst nest experience I ever have had is the empty one.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      11 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Eric, my male quail don't do anything other than please themselves. As for Magpies, I don't know if I've ever seen one, but rats are definitely egg robbers if that helps. :)

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      11 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Bill I need to know if male quail sit on eggs to help out. As you probably know I only use the internet to reach out to trusted sources like you. I think my wild ones are swapping off the duty.

      And are Magpies egg robbers?

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Wow, Cynthia, thanks for sharing that. You went to a great Catholic school. Just one more reason for me to like Canada. :) Thanks for dropping by and sharing that.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      There you go again, Eric, always with the unreasonable demands! lol Happy Monday, buddy!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      True words, Nithya! Tobias will be joining us on the next walk. Stay tuned!

    • techygran profile image

      Cynthia Zirkwitz 

      12 months ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

      Hi Bill, in my Catholic high school in rural Canada in 1966 we were reading life-shaping stories about racism and watching movies like "To Sir With Love" and the one where Sidney Poititer teamed up with some old German nuns to sing "Amen," a great symphonic earworm. By the time I ended up in my particular Pacific Northwest "starter" college''-- Vancouver City College (1969) I was very drawn to the black students, although I guess the attraction wasn't mutual. Interesting parallel universes. All the best, Cynthia

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      12 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Bill I want one about missunderstanding Maggie

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 

      12 months ago from Dubai

      I enjoyed the walk and looking forward to walks with both Maggie and Tobias. College is not only about getting a degree, it is also about learning valuable life lessons that make us better people.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you, William! This Mailbag would be nothing without followers like you.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 

      12 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      I guess people aren't so different from animals after all. Thank you for sharing these beautiful lessons with us, Bill. They help to make my day!

    • Miebakagh57 profile image

      Miebakagh Fiberesima 

      12 months ago from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA.

      Hi, Bill, not at all,please.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Miebakagh! I always appreciate your thoughts and insights.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Dora, thanks as always. I guess, to me, Maggie is more human than dog....she is certainly more compassionate than some humans I've known.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Linda! Tobias is gaining a following and I haven't even written about him yet. lol

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Lovely story, Ruby! How interesting, the no first names thing. I would love to know the origins of that cultural practice. Thank you for sharing that and for taking the walk with us.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      It is a mystery for sure, Heidi. I've noticed the same many times with dogs I've owned. Maybe one day we will be told the secret, eh?

    • Miebakagh57 profile image

      Miebakagh Fiberesima 

      12 months ago from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA.

      Hi, Bill, when you first saw the black man and the other foreigners, the experience is unique to you alone. An animal like Maggie, a dog could not farther such an issue. Her imagination would be too small for it. It takes time for an animal who has intelligence. Thanks for sharing with interesting animal farm pictures.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      12 months ago from The Caribbean

      You make Maggie seem so human,especially when you interpret the barks. I am loving all the details about Maggie's behavior and interactions.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      12 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      It's always interesting to read about Maggie's walks. I'm glad she's doing well after being spayed. I'm looking forward to reading about Tobias and his reactions to the animals that he meets.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      12 months ago from Southern Illinois

      I actually look forward to your weekly walks with Maggie. I can see her and her personality, her likes and dislikes. You are a lucky man to have Maggie and no doubt, Tobias will make the walks with Maggie interesting, teaching him who to like and so-forth. I grew up in Mt Carmel, Il. We had two black persons living in the town, one was N. John and the other was N. Ford, a woman who was a cook at the VFW, N, John lived in a shack down by the river. N. Ford lived next door to me, and I loved her. She was my baby sitter while my mother worked. I never knew her first name, what a shame! I remember she was the best cook, making goodies for me and my sister. She and my mother were close friends. I am thankful today that my mother didn't see color.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you MizB, for sharing that. The South of that time is fascinating to me, but I know very little about the specifics of it...how it was for those who lived there...what they felt about it...those things are missing from our history books...so thanks for those insights.

      Calm, mild, and beautiful here. Sorry! :)

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Pamela, I'm sorry to hear about your mother. I hope tomorrow is a less-stressful day. And thank you for sharing part of your personal story. I love sharing like that. It brings us all closer, or so I believe.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      It's been a week now, Flourish, and she's just about all healed up. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Sean, you are serving your students well with that lesson of the heart. Bravo to you, my friend, and blessings always.

      bill

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 

      12 months ago from Chicago Area

      I've never understood why some creatures bother my pups, and others don't. Doesn't matter the size, shape, or species. They've got some telepathic messaging or evolutionary predilection going on for sure. My girl dog is obsessed with squirrels. My boy dog couldn't care less about them.

      Can't wait to see what adventures Tobias will be adding to the mix. :)

      Thanks for taking us on your journey!

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James MizBejabbers 

      12 months ago from Beautiful South

      Your descriptions of Maggie with the other animals is fascinating, especially her relationship with the goats. We had an African pygmy goat years ago. She weighed a whopping 15 lbs. when we brought her home as a baby. Our chow, Tasha, immediately decided Sarah didn't belong there, but after discipling her severely, she and the goat got along just fine. In fact, Sarah missed the herd and adopted Tasha as her new mother. Tasha didn't mind at all.

      I grew up in the segregated South, but the races in my hometown had a very good relationship, and some of the neighborhoods had been integrated forever. My friends and I quite often sat on the balconies of our (2) local theaters among the black families. That was permitted, but they couldn't sit on the first floor. I was in my 20s before I became acquainted with any of them besides the black man, named Jess, who sold the best barbecue in town. Daddy would take me with him to buy barbecue, and we would take it home to eat it. Everybody liked and respected Jess. He and daddy would talk until our barbecue got cold. Until I grew up, I never knew why we didn't sit and eat in his restaurant.

      The Arkansas River is currently cresting, and I still have to take a detour route to get home, but we're fortunate to live on a hill. At least we still have a home. You and Maggie stay safe and dry, my friend.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      12 months ago from Sunny Florida

      I think you must be living in one of the most wonderful places in the USA. The animals and the country walks are something precious. I know Maggie doesn't talk, but our pets still communicate with us in many ways. I am glad she is training her little brother.

      I graduated from a high school in a suburb of Lakewood, OH, and out of about 640+ graduates not one black. We did have some Oreintal, many people with parents from Poland, Italy, and so forth. Before I went to college I worked in the grant department of Case Western Reserve. I had to take the Rapid Transit, which was 2 exits beyond downtown Cleveland. On day I had my nose in a book as usual and everyone got out downtown and these large black man sat down beside me. I didn't think anything of it, but I started feeling a touch on my leg as this man had his had under his leg touching me. Needless to say I was frightened. He got off 1 exit before me, and it was a relief. It took me a while longer to make friends with black people and knowing they bled red just like me. Thank goodness that fear left me.

      I'm not sure why I added this story as it was so long ago. My 95 year old mother is in the hospital, not doing well at all, and I can't tell you how much I appreciate the precious care the black nurses and medical assistants are giving her. Life is stresfull right now.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      12 months ago from USA

      Congratulations to Maggie on getting spayed. Glad she did well with it.

    • Sean Dragon profile image

      Ioannis Arvanitis 

      12 months ago from Greece, Almyros

      You are so right, my brother Bill! This is an invaluable lesson much more important than any diploma or degree. I always say to my students that this a significant reason to try to continue their studies to a college, the interaction with so many different people from different backgrounds and origins is what can help you became a better human being.

      Thank you for the walk to the "fields of understanding"!

      It's not in the number of the legs; it's in the Heart!

      Sean

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      My patience is being tested for sure by Tobias. We were spoiled with Maggie, no doubt about it,Linda.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      12 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill, thanks for the invitation. I'd be most pleased to join you and Maggie once a week. I sense that once Tobias joins in hilarity will ensue. These past few weeks we have been learning tolerance from Maggie. Will the next lessons be patience and disciplining with love?

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Now that's funny, Shannon....a dog of good taste!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      LOL...that's a great one, Pop! So do I!

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon Henry 

      12 months ago from Texas

      She does chase me if I try to wake up sleeping children. Her protective instincts kick in. It's a challenge during the school year. LOL

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 

      12 months ago

      I wish Maggie could vote...

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      At least your dog doesn't chase you, Shannon! Then you would really have a problem! lol

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon Henry 

      12 months ago from Texas

      See a peacock, chase a peacock.... that just made me laugh. Too bad my dog is like that with most animals. She only tolerates the ones she lives with her because we told her she has to.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Truth, Eric!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      12 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      What the heck Bill. This great life just keeps getting greater. I think we need to take some bummer pills lest we just explode.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Liz yes, you were very lucky indeed. Thanks for visiting us while you wait for your train...happy travels, my friend.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      12 months ago from UK

      Sitting on the station waiting for a train I have been transported into the countryside on your walk. Thank you. That's a great thing you learnt at college. Being brought up by a mother who had worked in Africa I guess I was fortunate to meet her African friends when they visited our house.

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