A Horse, A Dog, and Bill Murray

Standing in line to order hot tea, I heard him. The sound was incessant. Loud. Really loud.  People around me were laughing. I was laughing too.

Once I had my tea, I started walking to try and find the source. Several yards away I found a spot where the crowd was looking up. Looking up and pointing at a solitary monkey (I think technically he is a white-cheeked Gibbons, but I’m going with monkey since I’m not a wildlife buff).

Monkey 1

“Why does he do that?” I asked the Disney World Animal Kingdom employee.

“He does that every morning for hours. He’s calling for a mate.” he replied

I got quiet as he continued to talk. (You can hear the employee telling me about him if you listen closely to the video.) He’s male. Six years old. He lives here with his family…

People kept pointing and laughing. I was no longer laughing. I was listening to the sound of loneliness and to me it didn’t sound funny.


Several months earlier, I had my journal, a book of poetry, a packed car and Dixie Chicks singing Wide Open Spaces as I merged onto the interstate. I boldly told friends and family that I’d be gone a whole month! 

They tended to ask the obvious questions.

“What are you gonna do? Why are you going? Aren’t you afraid to go off  by yourself?”

I don’t know. Just to go. Nope.

I had rented an Airbnb for 30 days in a city 12 hours away. Pulling into the location that wasn’t quite as described — it was far more secluded, had patchy internet at best and my cell phone service didn’t work at all — I was apprehensive. What had I done? This is silly! But I put those nagging questions behind me and vowed to embrace this. After all, I told everyone that I was going on this adventure. I had to go through with it.

The owner of the Airbnb was very nice. She had assured me that someone would be around at all times while I was there. They would be in the main house while I was in the guest house tucked back in the woods. Sounds good I thought.

The next day, she told me they were leaving on a trip. I would be fine. They left food out for the dog and someone would be by to feed the horse.

It was just me, a horse, a dog and no cell phone coverage. Perfect.

After they left, I did what I thought would make me feel more comfortable. I grabbed my camera and went out to meet the dog.

Greta 2

She was old. The owner told me that she had suffered a stroke earlier in the year and you could see the effects lingering when she tried to walk. I wanted to lay beside her on the ground and talk to her like I talk to my dogs but she was used to being alone. She was friendly but not interested in making a new friend. She appeared to be longing for someone else. Someone that wasn’t me.

Greta 3Greta 1

The horse was easy to find. He was spending his life in a small corral. The owner told me that he belonged to her daughter. She rode him in jumping competitions and truly loved him but her interests had shifted now that she was older. The loner, horse-loving, high school aged girl was exploring high school. She was discovering that she could make human friends. She didn’t have time for him anymore but she also didn’t want to make the hard decision to sell him. So there he was that day. Waiting to meet me.

Larry 1

I’m afraid of horses. They seem so big and powerful. He was no exception. He was huge and beautiful. And he knew it. He commanded my attention and at the same time seemed to want my help. Like the dog, he was lonely. Lonely for an open pasture. Lonely for his girl. Lonely for his purpose.

Larry 4

Everyday, I planned my daily adventure in the nearby city. Everyday, I drove past the dog and horse when I pulled out of the drive way. Everyday, I drove past them when I returned. Everyday I went out and tried to talk to the dog. Everyday, I went out and made promises to the horse that I couldn’t keep… I promise you’ll be free soon… I promise they will do the right thing soon… I promise you will be loved again…

And everyday I struggled to enjoy my adventure. I hadn’t told the truth when people asked me those questions.

“What are you gonna do? Why are you going? Aren’t you afraid to go off  by yourself?”

Hopefully find myself as ridiculous and over done as it sounds. Because I’m running away versus facing my truth. Not afraid but wary of feeling even more alone.

I lasted 7 days. On the 7th day of my stay, I packed everything up at 2 a.m. and stole away in the darkness. I didn’t want to have to say good bye to the horse and the dog. I didn’t want to look into their eyes and face myself anymore. I felt like a failure.


“What’s his name?” I asked.

“Murray. He’s named after Bill Murray.” the employee told me.

“I feel so bad for him. No one is going to answer his call.” I said. (It was obvious right? He’s in a zoo. I beautiful zoo run by Disney, but it’s a zoo.)

“They will find him a mate at another zoo. That’s what they did with his sister.” he explained. “Then they will transfer him there.”

As I ended my conversation, Murray was giving up for the day. He joined his family and looked like he was going to settle down and rest for awhile. Rest until the next morning.


I’ve often wondered about the horse, the dog and Murray. I wonder about loneliness for humans versus animals. Does it look the same? Does it sound the same? Does it feel the same?

I think Murray knew something that I needed to learn. Maybe it’s not about running to a new undiscovered spot. Maybe it’s about staying put. Sending out the call. Faithfully.

I also think my adventure wasn’t a failure. I don’t know that I found myself, but I did find what I needed to see. An old soul whose days are nearing the end — still longing for something I don’t think she ever had. And a young soul in his prime, showing me that life is not meant to be lived corralled, fed well but ignored.

Not long after that trip, I created this image for my social media accounts.


When I wrote those words, I was talking about the fear of not fully living my life. But perhaps, you have that fear too.

So here’s to 2018! A new year for all of us. I hope Murray finds his mate. I hope the horse is running free and jumping his way to victories. And I hope the dog is comforted and loved as her time comes to an end.

And here’s to the courage to keep seeking out new adventures!


Interested in more of my stories? Go here to read my most popular blog post. Curious about the post that started it all? You can find it here. Want to read them all? Start at the top right here and work your way down.


  1. “live life to the full”, I’ve said…so many times. Easier said than done. This is a very thought-provoking post, Brenda. I’ll take your advise and look to live large in ’18. But first, …….:)

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