Hi there. It’s me, Ollie, James’ Old English Sheepdog. I’m starting this while James is at a board meeting for the Springfield Humane Society. He was asked to be on the board a little over a year ago, and they meet the second Tuesday of each month.
For those who don’t know, the Humane Society is a national organization that celebrates animals and confronts cruelty. They accept donations, as does the one on which James sits on the board (I have to chuckle when James says he sits on a board). If you’d like to donate, you can send a check to Springfield Humane Society, 401 Skitchewaug Trail, Springfield, VT 05156, or donate on their website.
Well, James just got home and saw what I was typing (actually he does the typing as you might have guessed). He wanted you to know that this past month the shelter brought in 12 dogs, nine cats, three kittens and two rabbits while there were 11 dogs, five kittens and four cats adopted. They’re a small organization serving a large area. I’m always pleased to hear about other dogs, and even cats, finding loving homes. James keeps telling me that one of these days he’s going to bring home a brother for me to play with. My paws are crossed.
Speaking of crossed paws, James and I thought it might be nice if I added some things I’ve taught him over the past year and a half (okay, from all the dogs he has been blessed to have in his life, not only me).
- Patience. It doesn’t come easy to him, let me tell you. But it is something he has had to work on ever since I came along. I’m sure he had to have had it before, but I’m known to take my time when we venture outside, even in the rain and snow, so he’s grown some patience.
- Loyalty. Perhaps we should have put this first, as it is very important to be loyal to your friends. It’s how they stay your friends. You may disagree or get upset with them over some trivial comment, but to remain reliable no matter what, that’s what counts.
- Tricks. Learn new ones no matter how young you might be (James typed “young” when I had said “old” — go figure). It helps to keep you on your toes (again, I said “pads” and James goes and types “toes”) and your mind stimulated. It can also be fun when those friends from #2 come over and you get to impress them.
- Talents. Unleashing your hidden gifts (Spoiler Alert: see the poem below) will bring out the best in you for the world to see. You will also feel better about yourself, and when you feel good, your friends are glad for you, and the world is a happier place.
- Simplicity. Keeping your life simple and uncomplicated will prevent any unwanted stress from building up. This helps with your blood pressure, your anxieties and things like that (which James says are important, but I don’t know what they mean). It will allow you to do the important things in your life, like spending time with your dog.
- Exercise. Going for a nice long walk or hike or jog with your dog will help with all of the above. Trust me, I know, for James and I go for long walks each morning, except when it’s raining, as James doesn’t like hanging out in the rain, but I do. James loves snow, but not ice, and neither do I.
- Stretch. Whenever I get up, I always stretch. And it’s a reminder to James to do some stretches before we go on our long walks. I don’t want him to cramp up while we’re out there, or it’s no fun for me, not to mention what I have to listen to from him – don’t get me started.
- Forgive. It’s never a good thing to hold grudges. They complicate your life and prevent you from achieving #5 above. And you all make mistakes – I mean, you’re all human. Remember that people say and do stupid things all the time. Forgive them and get on with a happy life.
- Things. With all those possessions cluttering up your lives, you end up carrying around far too many issues. Cleanse your life. Find the few, like the rubber ball I love, or my octopus I like to chew, and give the rest away to those who might need them. You’ll feel better for it.
- Love. The one thing we dogs do best is love you unconditionally. Think about how wonderful the world would be if everyone loved one another. I wouldn’t have to listen to those talking heads on TV every night, which would be a blessing. I love James absolutely, and he loves me completely. You can do the same. Try it, you’ll like it. (Je suis avec le peuple Français – Nous sommes un.*)
This may not seem like a talent to some, but believe me, when I was but a little puppy and having to learn to be on leash, my older brother, Trek (he’s gone to Dog Heaven, or so James told me, and when I said I want to go visit Trek, he said we will, sooner than we’d like – sometimes James says such weird things) and I gave James such a hard time. We bonded on these jaunts together, laughing at what James was doing. Enjoy.
Outings initially were a frenzied sight
with you being hesitant — defiant actually —
and Trek pulling onward
with me being drawn — thankfully not quartered —
by leads in opposite directions
zigzagging and turning with slight of hand
leash between my legs and around my back
over and under the one and the other
twisting brings a quick flip and underhand lob
a toss and a slide, and — voir la —
free and unraveled
wanting only to play with Trek
while he mostly ignores your 11-week old self
who jumbles the halters by jumping over
running around and squeezing under
the unfazed old guy who
knows how to get untied — most of the time
being driven nearly crazy
I find my self becoming a puppeteer
guiding both along without any glitches
you the wryly whippersnapper and
Trek the dogged old Dalmatian
becoming the master of ones destiny managing the strings of life ever so fragile and dear whether man or animal requires slight-of-hand skills like a ballerina or a tightrope walker requiring delicate hand and foot choreography
maneuvering through to survival
is uppermost in our thoughts
as we smile through the days and nights
encountering entanglements we must undo
much as the tether we shed as we age
I prefer to run free, but if I have to be on leash I’d rather not have to walk around another dog – just sayin’.
We hope you liked the poem. Oh, and be sure and let me know if you did, or if you have any questions for me (or for James).