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Travels With Maggie: The Fun is in the Chase

Updated on May 29, 2019

Setting the Scene

A perfect day, high-Sixties, powder-puff clouds, tall grass in the fields, the shadows shrunken, no breeze to speak of . . .

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

Won’t you join us?

The grasses grow quickly this time of year, May showers, periodic warm sun, blink and you’ll miss six inches of growth, or so it seems. Thigh-high, they are, almost completely concealing Maggie once she leaves the road and enters them. All I can see is the tip of her tail rising above the swaying stalks and a change in the conformity of it all as she plows ahead, a four-legged John Deere, nose to the ground, in search of who knows what? Perhaps the goal is simply in the journey.

Maggie Girl
Maggie Girl

And off She Goes

Like a scud missile, heat-seeking, senses on full alert, her target just ahead, Maggie at full-speed, bounding now, not running, more hump than streak, and I can’t see a damned thing, no clue why my dog is so obsessed with whatever until I catch up with her and see the object of her attention . . .

A baby rabbit, no bigger than my fist, where her mother is I do not know, but there it is, sitting in the grasses, Maggie looming above it, nose to nose, no aggression from my Maggie girl, that’s just not her style. The chase is over, the object discovered, and now that glorious moment when disparate animals find common ground and once again show we humans what compassion is all about . . . Maggie licks the bunny, looks at me, and I swear to the gods my dog is smiling.

I’ve seen her do it before, with chickens, with baby goats, and with mice. The thrill is in the chase for Maggie. There is no aggression to be found, and once the chase ends she is content to study, contact, gather information, and be done with it.

Tobias Isn’t Ready Yet

Maggie’s brother, Tobias, stays at home where Maggie trains him at her leisure. When he has learned the lessons he must learn we will take him with us to the farm and he can run free and experience the distinct thrill of the chase, but not yet. He is still too uncoordinated. He is still a bit too wild in his desire to play with anything that moves, and I fear his “puppy zoomies” might injure some animal by accident. But his time is coming!

It’s fascinating watching Maggie teach her wild brother. In truth practically everything that Maggie does is a lesson for her brother, and isn’t that true of us all, parents and friends, sisters and brothers, we are all teaching each other with our actions and with our words, a constant exchange between us all. Bev taught me I was lovable without ever saying those exact words. I taught kids they had value, in the classroom and out, and my parents taught me the proper way to be a loving man. It’s been going on for thousands of years, this sharing of information, and this teaching, and on this day, watching Maggie teach me about compassion, it continues.

I find great comfort in the fact that I am willing to learn from my Maggie girl.

I’ve had people tell me that I appear grumpy. I’ve been called a curmudgeon. In truth I’m none of those things, but evidently that’s the message I send by being a tight-lipped introvert. Something to think about: what message do I want to send to others? If I truly want to send a message of love, compassion, and empathy, perhaps I need to work on the signals I’m sending.

There's always something to work on, isn't there?

Maggie's brother Tobias
Maggie's brother Tobias

Memories From Long Ago

Growing up in a very nice urban neighborhood, the Fifties, home, mom, and apple pie sort of existence, friends one and all except for one man, Mister Henry Streitz, directly across the street from our home, the meanest man I’ve ever known. All through my childhood I never heard a kind word from that man. If our baseball rolled into his yard he would take the ball and keep it. If we laughed too loud during playtime, he would come outside and scream at us to be quiet. Neighborhood block parties were joyous affairs, but Streitz was a no-show, and once he called the police because the festivities were disturbing his peace.

My dad died on a cold January night, 1969. Sorrow descended on the neighborhood, for my father was loved by all, except by Streitz. The funeral came and went, meals appeared on our porch, concerned friends doing what friends do, and time slowly moved on. One night, about a week after the funeral, there was a knock on our door. I answered and there, before me, was Mister Henry Streitz.

“Your father was a good man, and I’m sorry for your loss,” he said, and then he was gone. They were the only words I would hear that man say until his own death a decade later.

The messages we send . . . the lessons we pass on to others . . .

A sibling bond
A sibling bond

Back to the Dogs

So I watch my Maggie girl teach her younger brother, and I smile as I do so. There is simplicity in their daily interchanges. Maggie is much bigger, and she plays hard with her sibling, but never too hard. Tobias is rambunctious, and can be overbearing, but Maggie patiently endures it all until a line is crossed and then a correction is issued swiftly and with conviction . . . but there is no anger in the correction, only dog love, and I find that comforting as well.

On this particular day our time at the farm is coming to an end. Maggie says goodbye to the baby rabbit, albeit reluctantly. She herds a few peacocks and Guinea Hens out of Chicken Town, firmly but without aggression. Birds sing their songs from the fir trees, a sweet melody made sweeter by the warming temperatures and gentle breeze. The horses wander over, wondering if I have a treat for them, and Maggie looks up at them, tail wagging. I can hear baby goats calling for their mothers in the distance.

I was born for this. Not necessarily the actual farm, but the sense of belonging and the comfortable embrace of serenity. It’s something I struggled to find for many years, but now that I’ve found it there is no way I will abandon it. Maggie struggles not one bit. She has only known serenity since her birth. She is an integral part of this life, of her world, and she instinctively knows what that “part” is. I envy her that and yet I celebrate for her.

Words from my dad echo in my head as we hop in the truck for the ride home. “Never give up ground won, Billy Boy. Never retreat. You’ve fought hard for what you have, so hold on tight to it.”

I finally understand those words, Dad. Life has been a struggle at times, I won't lie, but those words would not allow me to quit.

You are always welcome to join us on our walks. Maggie and me, we love the company, so put on your walking shoes and head on out to the farm next week.

2019 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

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    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Zulma! it comes as no surprise that the cake didn't make it past breakfast. Why would it? lol

      Shawls should not go to festivals. That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it.

      Have a fabulous Tuesday evening, my friend, and thanks for taking the time to catch up with me.

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 

      10 months ago from United Kingdom

      Sorry for the late response. Sadly, the cake didn't make it past breakfast although the spaghetti made for a good lunch. The tea was all right. Maybe a couple of more tea bags next time.

      I managed to finish the shawl in time for holiday. My oldest daughter is quite taken with it and has asked to borrow it for a festival she's attending next week. Must remember to lock it away. I'm not joking. Festivals can be messy, at best. This shawl is delicate and needs a lot of TLC.

      As you may know by now, we've returned from holiday and it will take a while till I'm back on track. So I must dash.

      Talk to you later, Bill.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      11 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks a bunch, Lawrence. I know there's no retreat in you, my friend.

      blessings

      bill

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 

      11 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Bill

      Wise words there, 'never give the ground you've won'

      Blessings

      Lawrence

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      And thank you, Rajan! It's always a pleasure having you with us.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Listen to you, Zulma! Ms. Domesticated! I'm tired just reading about your activities crammed into a June afternoon. Feel free to send me a piece of that cake, won't you?

      The weather is absolutely perfect here, mid-seventies and no rain. We paid our dues this winter and this is our reward.

      Best wishes on all those projects!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Genna, Maggie sends her love, tail wagging and tongue out. She says to tell you that you are always welcome.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      "Learning is loving"....I love that, Sean, and I will gladly share my walking path with you any day. Peace and love always!

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      12 months ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      My walking and learning go hand in hand as I walk with you and Maggie. Thank you, my friend.

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 

      12 months ago from United Kingdom

      And what sort of dog would Striker be? I imagine a pit bull that appears intimidating but is really a squishy marshmallow on the inside once you gain his trust.

      Gorgeous weather here today and I feeling all domestic goddess-y. I've got sun tea brewing in the backyard, I'll be making a pineapple upside down cake while my homemade spaghetti slowly simmers. I think I'll do some more work on the mandela I'm crocheting. Also, if I have time later, I'll pull out some old stories and see if what can be done with them.

      Hope you've got sumptuous weather out your way. If so, have a glorious one.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      12 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Maggie is so thoughtful and gentle...I know of many dogs that would not be content to only examine the baby rabbit with a playful smile of discovery. We do learn and grow from each other...it is a shame that Streitz learned too late. Although his appearance at your door after your dear father passed was perhaps a small step, too late in his life. Thank you for another wonderful walk with Maggie.

    • Sean Dragon profile image

      Ioannis Arvanitis 

      12 months ago from Greece, Almyros

      Observing Nature and learning by Her loving way is the only path back to Heaven, my brother Bill. That's what I believe, and that is why Maggie is a great teacher, and not only for Tobias! Thank you for one more lovely walk, I am looking forward to the next.

      Learning is loving and loving is learning!

      Sean

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I do too, Mary! It just seems completely against the nature of the beast. Thank you for taking the time to visit.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      And we enjoyed you joining us, Nithya! Thanks as always for the lovely comment.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you so very much, Dora! I'm beginning to think that Maggie might be my muse.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      12 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      I'm so happy to read about Maggie and her freedom to roam around and explore with you. I think dogs just love that and I feel sorry for all the dogs who have to live in condos and walk only the city streets.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 

      12 months ago from Dubai

      Maggie is a sweet, kind dog. It must be wonderful to take a walk with Maggie and observe her behavior. Your father so wisely pointed out, never give up ground won, never retreat- words to remember and live by. Enjoyed the walk, as always.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      12 months ago from The Caribbean

      Bill, your "Travels with Maggie" make a perfect assignment for both youth and adults. So many lessons from nature we can learn in the kindness of animals, the sensitivity in their interactions with other animals, the joy they give to their human owner. Maggie could become a title like Benji.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I appreciate that, Pamela. I'm shooting for a little Steinbeck and his Travels With Charlie," only a modern day version.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      No coincidence at all, Zulma. That was my ego raising its head. lol If we had another dog I'm sure we'd name it Striker!!!!!

      Love the story about the kitten being washed. Thanks for the chuckle.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Flourish. I suspect WW2 had something to do with his hatred/bitterness.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Heidi, I'll eventually take Tobias with us so you won't nag me any longer. LOL Kidding, my friend.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Peg and yes, most definitely, dogs can tell time. I am convinced that is true.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you kindly, Linda! I'll probably let Tobias tag along in another month or so, once a little more of "the puppiness" leaves him. Right now he's hell on wheels around those chickens.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      That's a nice way of putting it, Shannon. Truthfully, I probably could be more patient when working in groups, but I just want to do something and move on. I don't want to discuss it until the sun sets.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      12 months ago from Sunny Florida

      The visions of Maggie training Tobias must be precious to you and Bev. That dog is truly a gem. I like the gentleness she used with the baby rabbit too. It sounds like your trips to the farm, caring for the chickens and walking with Maggie may be the niche you were seeking in earlier years. Keep on telling your tales of walking with Maggie, as they are a very enjoyable read.

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 

      12 months ago from United Kingdom

      It's wonderful how Maggie is taking her little brother by the paw and showing him the ways of the world. Our cats were the same way. They're not related and are a year apart, but when the little striped tabby was a tiny kitten, she didn't seem to understand basic stuff, like how to eat solids and how to use a litter tray. The older cat became her surrogate mom and taught her how to be a cat. One day, we heard the little one meowing loudly and we rushed to see what was the matter. The older one had her pinned down and we thought she was hurting the kitten. Turns out 'Mom' was trying to give her a bath and kitten wanted no part of it. lol

      I'm looking forward to hearing about Toby's first walk. Hey, I just realised his has the same name as your main character from 'Resurrecting Tobias'. Coincidence?

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      12 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      It sounds like you're giving Maggie a wonderful life. I love the story about her and the rabbit. I'm looking forward to learning more about Tobias.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      12 months ago from USA

      That’s so sweet that Maggie just licked the rabbit, nothing more. I have to protect the rabbits from my fat cats, as they suddenly become athletic and take off running when they see rabbits. I’m glad your childhood neighbor did the right thing. You never know why he was such a bitter guy. I’ve had neighbors, coworkers, and teachers like that.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 

      12 months ago from Chicago Area

      We, too, have watched our pairs of pups train each other over nearly three decades of being dog parents. When I train them, I try to emulate what they do. Not a lot of talk, a whole lot of walk.

      Waiting for Tobias to join the crew!

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      12 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      Love this sweet story and traveling with you and Maggie. They really do teach each other things from how to come down stairs to proper bathroom etiquette. They even know how to tell time or at least when it's dinner time and bed time. Ours are always happier when they have a furry friend.

      I also loved that your neighbor finally came around.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      And you are a sweet friend, Ruby, and I thank you for always joining us. Maggie is being spayed tomorrow, so she won't be doing much of anything for a few days I'm afraid.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      12 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill, you might be many things, but curmudgeon never comes to mind. You are quiet and introspective and I get that.

      Although in time it will be fun to have Tobias tag along on these wanderings, for now, I'm glad that it's you and Maggie (and us). That introspective Bill analyses her thoughts and shares that knowledge with us, and we all learn a little more about life.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      12 months ago from Southern Illinois

      I soo enjoy your walk with Maggie. I felt a love feeling when you introduced the baby rabbit. You are truly blessed and your writing stirs ' me ' heart. Thank you.

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon Henry 

      12 months ago from Texas

      Well, a lot of people have a low tolerance for certain behaviors. If that's the reason for the reference, you must be snappy about it. You're probably no different than hundreds of other individuals who surround you, though, including me. It often surprises people who don't know me well when I do finally snap at someone, but I always say there's a difference between having patience and being patient! Sometimes a person just loses all patience and simply can no longer be patient.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Shannon, working in groups, I have a low tolerance for b.s. or laziness...the curmudgeon references usually stem from that lack of tolerance. As for Maggie and her brother, same thing really...a whole lot of patience on Maggie's part.

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon Henry 

      12 months ago from Texas

      You a curmudgeon? Of course, I don't know you in person. . .but that's most definitely not the signal you send online!

      Interesting side story about the man in your neighborhood. What do you suppose prompted him to offer one sentence and leave? I'm sure all wasn't as it appeared.

      My dogs have a very different relationship, Daisy being quite a few years older than Sam, who is just a puppy only a few months old. He still chews on everything, is too bouncy and mischevious. But for a dog who doesn't tolerate other animals well, Daisy is remarkably patient. Dogs are amazing creatures.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Eric, you are just full of metaphors today...or full of something else. lol Either way it's always good to have a friend stop by for a chat.Thanks buddy!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

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

      I would say "the" sweet melody of life. Perhaps I should say "our". We own it an must be a steward of it like you are.

      Some say our animals are a metaphor for our life. I disagree. We are the metaphor for theirs.

      Sorry but I can smell the chicken poop, both yours and mine. Now there is a metaphor.

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