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.


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.

Version 2

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….


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
All photos © James Stack 2017 unless otherwise indicated

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