How to Housetrain Your Dog: Ollie and Patience

As my time at Skygate Farm grew longer, for some strange reason James’ patience with me grew shorter. I don’t know how to explain it, but there it is in black and white. It had been fourteen years, James tells me, since he’d had to train a puppy. Now I can honestly say from the perspective of a puppy, training is for the birds (oh, yeah, birds will be another post during this year).

All it takes are treats, well, on second thought, lots of treats, and a little patience. Okay, James says it takes a lot of patience, too. It needs to be understood that when we are puppies, and for the rest of our lives, all we want to do is please our parents. I don’t mean the parents who gave us life, but the ones that give us a long lasting wonderful life in their homes.

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Believe it or not, I’ll do anything James says, so long as I understand it and a treat is involved. Let’s take the command “sit” for example. I didn’t honestly understand what that word meant when I first heard it. I mean, I’d heard the word “shit” frequently, and I know what that means, but sit, which sounds a lot like shit, didn’t make sense when I was constantly being told to poop (same thing as shit) outside, and most of the time I was being told to “sit” inside. Please know that it sounded like I was being asked to shit on the floor.

Now this is only one example, of which there are hundreds. One more that I feel I need to provide is similar to the one above. When I went outside to do my business, if James called it “shit” when commanding me to go, or “pee” for number one, then when James uses those same words inside, what did he think I thought he was asking me to do? Remember, as puppies we’ve been receiving treats when we do it – outside – so why not a treat inside? I think I’ve made my point.

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Well, James became frustrated, to put it mildly, from time to time because of things like this. I kept trying to please him, doing what I thought he wanted. Still, as a puppy I wasn’t perfect. (Oh, gosh, I’m blushing – James says I am perfect, only he didn’t know it when I was a puppy – god love him!)

Because of these irritations he was feeling, James wrote a poem he entitled “Patience.” It is printed here for the first time since winning the Rocky Coast Writing Contest for poetry. I can’t begin to explain how proud I am of James.

Without further ado, here is that poem….

                        PATIENCE*

I’m told that I must have patience
     since you are a thirteen-week-old puppy
          I have categorically zero patience left

You bite me repeatedly even after
     I do all the things the training manuals tell me
          There is absolutely no patience remaining

You eat dirt and the treats I try to substitute
     have made you blow up like a balloon
          How in god’s name could there be one iota of patience

You won’t let me dry you after rain or a bath
     chewing the towel and me constantly
          Don’t even speak to me about having patience

You taught me to reward you when you ignore me
     and I have to repeatedly call you to keep up
          Forget about there being any patience

Yet you make me smile and laugh
     with your antics and clowning around
          Perhaps I still have a very little patience left

You are the cutest thing I’ve ever known
     and I love you with all my heart
          Okay so maybe I have some remaining patience

You make me so proud when you listen
     and do as I ask
          There’s always an iota of residual patience

You are a little puppy learning new tricks each day
     and repeating them
          Hell there’s more than a little enduring patience

You are nearly house broken
     always pooping and almost always peeing outside
          I have piles of patience left

Tomorrow is a new day
     and we both have a lot to learn
          I’ll have tons of patience when I wake up

These days the only time James loses patience with me is when we’re out walking (he walks while I run), and I don’t come when he calls me. He should know by now that when we are outside, there are far more interesting things in the woods than always coming at his beck and call. Just sayin’.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this story and poem. In two weeks I’ll tell you about James’ experiences with house training me when I was a puppy, which I’ve alluded to above. Now the poem he wrote about that is how he survived my slow learning curve. Please stay tuned and read it and the others to follow.

Also, let us know what your opinion of these stories and the poems James wrote. I always like to hear from you, so please feel free to leave me a comment about this or anything else that’s on your mind.

Until next time,
Short Stories - Author Webpage Help Needed
Sir Oliver of Skygate Farm (you can call me Ollie)

* Patience was first published in The Maine Review, Vol. 2, Issue 2, Fall 2015. It was the Grand Prize Winner in their Rocky Coast Writing Contest for poetry.

 

Paw Prints courtesy of www.pawsitivelyloved.com
All photos © James Stack 2017 unless otherwise indicated
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Ollie and Shadows: What Do We Make of Them?

After being at Skygate Farm a couple of weeks, I had begun noticing things moving on the ground, yet there was nothing of substance there. I know, it sounds weird. Skygate Farm has multiple wide-open fields beyond the yard surrounding the house. It was mostly in the yard and fields where these things that weren’t really things would appear.

Version 2
(James’ shadow watching on the side of a field at Skygate Farm.)

Before coming to live with James and Ron I’d never noticed these things that weren’t there, so at first they surprised me. Once James noticed that I was interested in them, he told me that they were shadows. They still didn’t make any sense to me. Then James explained that light sources, like the sun, full moon and indoor lights, caused shadows of objects to appear.

There were only a few things I liked better than trying to catch these shadows. They were beyond elusive. It made no sense to me that I could never, ever get one in my paws or mouth. Still, it was fun trying. It would wear me out, and I would sleep peacefully for hours. Well, nowhere near all night yet, but still for a good hour or more. James loved seeing me chasing all the different shadows I began to notice.

Version 3
(Ollie’s shadow following him on the driveway at Skygate Farm.)

Once I understood that the objects were real, but the shadows were nothing more than reflections or negatives, so to speak, of the objects, I decided to leave them alone. Still, that took some time for me to understand. Now, don’t go thinking that I’m not smart. Remember, I was only a puppy. There is that expression about throwing off puppy behaviors when becoming a dog.

Because of my interest in shadows, James wrote a short poem about it. We thought you might enjoy reading it. When James reads it to me now, it seems as if I was a silly little puppy. After I told James that, he told me that it took a very special puppy to even notice shadows. James is so good to me, don’t you think?

Well, without further ado, here is the poem….

            SHADOWS

            arrangements of wispy vased buds
dancing across the white of the wall
            catch your eye

            traveling sights of human forms
parading around the slate on the floor
            intrigue you

            shimmers from seasonal tree leaves
vibrating on the concrete pavement
            mesmerize

            fluttering arms and head
rotating on the bark of a tree
            cause bewilderment

            hovering creations of you and me
floating at night on the meadow’s incline
            give surprise

            shadows are a puzzling fascination
captivating you at twelve weeks

finding them as a new type of toy
            yet can neither be touched nor chewed

There are still times when James and I are out and a shadow will cause me to bark. It can take me a minute or two to figure out that what is there is not truly there. I know, that sounds funny, but it’s true.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this story and poem. In two weeks I’ll tell you about James’ experiences with patience when I was a puppy. Now the poem he wrote is all about him. Please stay tuned and read it and the others to follow.

Also, let us know your opinion of these stories and the poems James wrote. I always like to hear from you, so please feel free to leave me a comment about this or anything else that’s on your mind.

Until next time,
Short Stories - Author Webpage Help Needed
Sir Oliver of Skygate Farm (you can call me Ollie)

 

Paw Prints courtesy of www.pawsitivelyloved.com
All photos © James Stack 2017 unless otherwise indicated

Ollie’s Drinking Water: How Much Is Good for Your Dog?

When I first got to Skygate Farm I was rather hesitant about everything. After the first week or so I was much more relaxed with my surroundings, James and Ron, and with my new BFF Trek. His food and water bowls were up on a platform while mine were on the floor. At first I couldn’t reach his, but he sure could get to mine.

It didn’t take me long to learn that I needed to eat and drink everything James put before me or else Trek would have a go at it. His primary aim was my food, but he also would drink my water. As such, I not only ate everything right away, but I drank all the water that James put before me as soon as it appeared for fear that it would be consumed by Trek and I would die of dehydration.

Version 2
(Ollie passed out after drinking all the water in his bowl.)

Okay, I exaggerate. That is about Trek and his habits. Sure, he would eat my food, but he rarely drank my water. Still, I was afraid he would, so I took matters in mouth. I have to admit that I drank tons of water. The more the merrier, I’d say. I found that not only would I need to be excused every ten to fifteen minutes, but it meant James would take me outside so I could play. It was like getting a treat, only this type of treat wasn’t the kind you eat.

Oh, and when James took me out to relieve myself, it was without a leash. He stopped using that restraint since it required him to treat me simply for walking beside him, when what he wanted me to do was pee. I’d hold it as long as I could so I could get double and triple treats. I was on a roll! You should know that when you treat someone for peeing, they’ll try and pee as often as they can – just sayin’.

It was after a phone call James made to the American Kennel Club’s Help Line that my water supply dried up. Well, not completely. James would give me a measured amount of water. Still, I’d drink it right away so Trek wouldn’t get it and so I could go outside. But then I’d have to wait for a refill. Sometimes I waited what seemed like hours. James said I had no way of knowing the intervals between watering since all I did was either play, poop, pee, or sleep. Is nothing sacred? I have to say, not when James is around.

It wasn’t long before I could reach Trek’s bowl of water. Once James caught me, he separated our feeding and watering places. Neither Trek nor I appreciated being estranged. Well, maybe Trek was okay with it. I, on the other paw, appreciated it when Trek was around to play with. He was a super, duper BFF.

Version 2
(Ollie’s BFF Trek.)

On the topic of water, James wrote a poem we thought you might enjoy reading. I’m of the opinion that he has stretched the truth somewhat, what some might call “alternative facts,” yet he claims not. After reading it you can make up your own mind. Without further ado….

            WATER

gallon after gallon after gallon after gallon
is hastily slurped
as if you were a hamster on a wheel
instead of an Old English Sheepdog

it’s back-and-forth to the sink for me
as if I’m on a relay race as the only contestant
with nary time to catch my breath
before you stand over a void wanting more

your namesake was told
“There’s more at the door”
yet we keep going out of doors
to gratefully purge your bladder

what is it about that liquid
that gratifies without quenching
a treat on the floor
delight in a dish

would you drink our pond dry
leaving nothing for the aquatic inhabitants
perhaps you’re an amphibian
a new breed to be discovered

and once supposedly satiated
you crane your neck like a giraffe
reaching up and down into your buddy
Trek’s container positioned on a platform

the liquid sloshes through
your eleven-week-old body
nearly as fast as the vessels can be replenished
as every fifteen minutes it’s out the door or else

and there’s Trek
quenching his thirst
from your saucer
that years before was his

except nowadays
it’s for you
which both of you
will straightaway consume

what have we unleashed
which is worse
          Trek indulging his craving till he throws up
          or your attempting to extinguish an intolerable thirst

I would ordinarily ask
where one puts such a quantity but
I know on our rugs the dog beds and the
foyer mudroom hall kitchen dining room floors

oh sure
you put plenty outside
but not nearly enough
soon I hope

I reach out for help
and am informed
your drinking excessively
is my fault

I’m giving you too much
you should be receiving
one ounce per pound
instead of at will

at twenty point eight pounds
three glasses
twenty-four ounces
should satiate

yet I won’t be stingy
for you’ll get four ounces more
yet still
not nearly a gallon

your gluttony required multiple
yet still
you are healthy
happy with only a portion

the gods are smiling tonight
          as are you
          as is Trek
          as am I

Another bit of information James received was from his vet – well, actually it’s my vet. He told James that around the fourth month of a puppy’s life we begin figuring out that the water we intake has a correlation to how often our bladder gets full. Today James leaves a huge bowl of water out for me. I take what I want when I want. That way we are both happy. I’ve learned not to go in the house, and I’m only taken outside four times during the day. I have to be careful.

Besides, I know if I go outside right away, we will most likely go back inside right away. I adore the outside, so I hold it for a long time. I don’t get any treats other than a “good boy” these days when I finally void my bladder. Even in the rain, I hold it. I tried to teach James to give me a treat if I voided quickly during the rain, but he didn’t take the bait. Truth be told, you can’t always teach an old dog new tricks – if you know what I mean.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this story and poem. In two weeks I’ll tell you about my experiences with shadows when I as a puppy. Please stay tuned and read it and the others to follow.

Also, let us know what your opinion of these stories and the poems James wrote. I always like to hear from you, so please feel free to leave me a comment about this or anything else that’s on your mind.

Until next time,
Short Stories - Author Webpage Help Needed
Sir Oliver of Skygate Farm (you can call me Ollie)
Paw Prints courtesy of www.pawsitivelyloved.com
All photos © James Stack 2017 unless otherwise indicated