It Was a Long, Wonderful First Year for Ollie.

We’ve come to the end of my first year. Both James and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about me. I know I’ve enjoyed reporting about this impressionable time. Sure, James and I have had our differences in what to report and say, but because of those differences, we’ve grown closer, if that was even possible.

(Ollie and James – best friends forever.)

It happens that today is also my birthday – May 26th. It’s kind of cool that we finished this blog and sharing James’ poems on the day of the year when I was born. Of course, we didn’t plan it that way.

Come to think of it, making plans are nice, but that’s all they are. Life has a way of getting in-between the things we propose. I’m here to tell you that my life so far has been one super gift. I have two daddies who love me and who I love. What could be better than that? Okay, so food and snacks and toys and friends to play with are rather wonderful, too.

Oh, yeah. There’s something else almost as nice – James’ poems. Here’s one he wrote. It sums up our time together during my first year:


this is a happy tale that’s
not a tail that wags
since Ollie has a knob
that twitches and bobs

this is a first-year tale
beginning in the rust belt
carried onto the AKC website
where at a week he was found

asleep on a red blanket
China-blue eyes unopened
a black and white bundle of love
unlocked the gates into our hearts

an excursion to Ohio
when Ollie was five weeks
bashful and fearful
sealed his love within our souls

four weeks later he arrived and
over the next ten months
tentacles of love
intertwined within our chis

in the beginning
     – impressions of minute emotions and memories embossed upon our
psyche for a
     – fearful responses to innocuous items lead us to consider special treatment
     – leash walking with our dearly beloved Dalmatian Trek we morphed into

     – Ollie’s water bowl would empty as soon as it was replenished
     – his noticing shadows was when we discovered his extraordinary curiosity
     – high stakes investment in-house training necessitated diligent attention
to his moods

     – we discovered an unfortunate place known as puppy purgatory which to
Dante was
     – all the while we were learning patience is a virtue

as time progressed
     – sweet sleep evaded us for we remained diligent in our training and love
     – the crowning of Ollie’s teeth necessitated an abundance of chew toys
     – nighttime became the sweet time when he greeted us with kisses as we
       took care so he could take care
     – the despicable morning dew forced a drying off of his feet regardless of
rain or shine

     – shoelaces were a fascination
     – butterflies flitting around the yard created a game of chase
     – dandelions caught his eye with their brilliant yellow flowers and star-burst

     – the rain like the dew caused aggravation by dampening Ollie’s beautiful
Old English
 Sheepdog puppy coat

when autumns colors reigned supreme
     – he desired pebbles and dirt for which we were unsure since dirt is dirt and
 should never be swallowed
     – the rustling of leaves and brush by the invisible wind nibbled at Ollie’s

     – he chewed pieces of wood graduating in size from twigs to sticks to limbs
     – the time approached for a full mouth of teeth

suddenly it wasn’t summer
     – the proof was in the profusion of snowfall and abundance of joy from
frolicking in
 the white powder
     – while inside soft stiff colored crinkly paper enticed Ollie’s mouthing

     – the heat within the bathroom called to him to luxuriate within its radiance
     – the leaves no longer offered chase except an occasional skeletal version
 across the icy snow
     – strategically placed tin cans kept him from food trash and curtains
     – airplanes provided noise and full moons offered light in the night sky for
him to

appreciating the passing of time for a year was upon us
     – while luxuriating within our newly found tolerance we painfully observed
 catching a flying animal
     – his having learned to fetch as a youngster was no longer an attribute an
Old English
 Sheepdog cared to retain
     – Ollie’s alarming attention to ants proved to be harmless and distracting
     – his interest in gnawing on slate was not something we cared for him to

     – we were pleased that his love of the crate developed into his feeling safe
and secure

     – it was a pleasure to know that he took to grooming like a red-spotted newt
to a
 vernal pool

and that my friends
is what it’s all about

the love between best friends
be they

love is love
it makes the world go round
may the earth keep spinning on its axis

it will with Ollie in our lives
and so

this is a happy tale that’s
not a tail that wags
since Ollie has a knob
that twitches and bobs

it began in a rust belt town
and ends on a hill in Vermont
at the home of Ollie James and Ron
known as Skygate Farm

Wow! What a year it was. It sure wasn’t easy in the beginning, but some of the best things in life aren’t necessarily stress-free when originally encountered.


(Ollie and James in the ATV enjoying a ride together – forever.)

I must admit that the bond between James and me, as well as between Ron and me, is super strong. One of the nicest things is that since the end of my first year neither of them puts a leash on me when they walk me around Skygate Farm. With multiple acres on which to romp, you’d think I’d run off and explore. Well, I do, somewhat. Still, I never have either of them out of my sight. Okay, there are times they keep walking in one direction and I go in another, but sooner or later I catch up to them.

Speaking of walking, it’s now time to decide what to report in my next post. I haven’t the foggiest (Yes, I am an English sheepdog.) idea. I’ll give it some thought over the next two weeks. Come back at that time and find out.

Between now and then, feel free to scroll down and make a comment, letting me know what you think of my blog and James’ poems. I always like to hear from you, so please leave me a note about this or anything else that’s on your mind.

Until next time,
Sir Oliver of Skygate Farm (you can call me Ollie)



Paw Prints courtesy of
All photos © James Stack 2018 unless otherwise indicated

The Astonishing Magic of a Grooming on Ollie’s Perspective.

Brush, brush, brush. That’s all James ever did during my first year. My hair – yes, I have hair and not fur – kept growing for the full twelve months. During the early days, it wasn’t so bad. I mean, I was smaller, so there was less of me, and the hair was shorter, so there was less of it. As I grew, so did my hair. It was a good six inches in length by the time my birthday rolled around.

Brush, brush, brush. Like Joan Crawford in the movie Mildred Pierce when she complained, “Pies! Pies! Pies!” (James and I watch these old movies on rainy days. It’s fun.) Of course, not all of the grooming was that bad. I loved it when James and Ron rubbed the hair on my belly – I mean combed. But to be honest, that was about all I liked.

Don’t get me wrong. I grudgingly participated. After a few minutes, I would lie down so James could only reach part of me. Besides, his yanking, jerking, and untangling my hair while I was standing the entire time wasn’t that much fun. Believe me.

(Ollie before being groomed. “Notice how messy my hair is.”)

Now James thinks I want to put everything in my mouth, including the hairbrush. Well, come to think of it, he has a point. After all, inanimate objects have a way of gaining entry between my lips and feeling the points of my molars.

I was proud of myself when I got James to give me treats while he fluffed me. Of course, I never told him that when he gave me a substantial delight I needed to lie down to enjoy it. That seemed to frustrate him even more. Then he tried making grooming a game with a song, stroking rhythmically along with his singing. To quote Steve Martin as Vinnie Antonelli in the movie My Blue Heaven, “Stop! You’re hurting my ears!” (What, no treat? I thought that was funny. Humph.)

OH! OH! And then there was the hairdryer. What an invention. Most everyone knows we canine like to stick our heads out car windows and let the wind caress our faces. [It is not advisable since an insect traveling at thirty miles an hour could put an eye out.] (That was James – he can be such a bummer. Where was I? Oh, right.) Well, if you can imagine your very own wind machine blowing warm air, melting away all the dampness as it whisks from ear to ear. OMG! I love the person who invented it. I’d like to find whoever it was and lick them all over their face.

Okay, I’m calmer now.

A day arrived, like many before it, when we went for a ride in the car. (I love going for a ride in the car.) Instead of going to some new place, we arrived at one of the kennels where I enjoy playing with the other bowwows. However, we didn’t go into the area where the other pouches were. We went into an adjacent building where James handed me off to a lovely lady who led me into the back room.

Now, this was no ordinary back room. It had metal tables with yokes hanging from metal fixtures. There were two dogs strapped into these harnesses. There was this ungodly buzzing sound coming from the hands of the women who were handling the poor chaps, and their hair and fur were dropping to the floor. Before too long, both were naked as jaybirds. (What, you’ve never seen a naked jaybird? Come to think of it, neither have I.)

I have to take a breather here because the memory is jarring. While I’m gathering my strength, feel free to read James’ poem about my grooming. Here it is:


your introduction to the brush
was less than pleasant
although I had meant it
to be clean fun

you kept trying
to get the comb away from me
by putting it in your mouth
an addition to your
ever expanding collection
of chew toys

it wasn’t so much
that you minded being brushed
as it was you couldn’t mouth it
before or after
the exacerbating exercise
making you handsome

as your Old English Sheepdog hair
grew constantly longer
your grooming took ever more time

slowly you trained me
to let you have treats
while being spruced
so you would then
let me have at it
as you had at
the delicacies

those delicacies came in quite handy
when I would bring out the hairdryer
for it was large
like a miniature vacuum cleaner
which bewilderingly blew out
surprisingly warm air
from a larger opening
you wanted nothing
to do with
yet the treats smoothed
your acceptance
of this new application

by the time you were
in your ninth month
your coat had grown
to at least six inches
and was phenomenally fetching
when cured
yet was beginning
to be too much
to keep in any sort of order
before it would start to bunch
form mats
like a Rastafarian’s dreadlocks

to the professional groomers
for a shampoo
blow dry
ear-hair removal
nail clipping
bum shaving
from which you returned
ravishingly stunningly stylish

they said you were a good boy
although you tried to nip at the brush
so I told them our secret
about delights
and the next month
when you were attended to
there were no complaints

the day arrived when
I was to be away
for over three weeks
leaving you with Jillian who
I knew would never brush you
so again to the stylists
who were told
to shear you like a sheep

when I returned
I didn’t recognize my Ollie
until you came running into my arms
licking my face with the force of a tank
wanting to get the hell away
from these sheepshearers

there you were
a black and white
when you went in
and out you came a
merle-blue and white
Old English Sheepdog
with so much love in your heart
I am afraid it might burst

so as your hair
begins to grow back
I’ll slowly bring out the brush
and run it through your luscious locks
all the time we enjoy
being with one another
for you are excellent company
and a loving companion

with a simple treat
given with a loving hand
it is unlimited what and where
we can go together

Well, if you’ve ever had someone pluck the hair from inside your ears, you’ll know what I mean when I say it not only hurts, but it’s invasive and, to my way of thinking, mean. James claims he does it so I won’t get ear infections. Since I’ve never had an ear infection, I’m not so sure – just sayin’.

Oh, and the rotary thing they use on my claws. At first, the sound and vibration were startling. But after awhile, it was like having my paws massaged. I liked it. Still, without long, sharp claws, how am I to protect myself when we go for long walks in the woods? I suppose I’ll have to rely on James and my teeth.

The worst part of being groomed is having my butt hairs trimmed. That’s right. You read that correctly. My butt gets smooth-shaven. Can you imagine? Okay, enough said about that particular grooming trick.

(Ollie fluffed up after being professionally groomed.)

And then the day finally arrived when the groomers sheared me like a sheep. I knew the day would come because I’d watched others being taken down to the skin. Still, I have to admit that I didn’t mind. Think about it. The days were getting hotter, the sun was getting higher, and the black hair on more than half of my body was heavy and muggy. It was nice getting that weight off my back.

(Ollie sheared like a sheep.)

The actual color of my hair began to be exposed once I was cropped clean. I’m known as a blue-merle Old English Sheepdog. Should I be lucky enough to meet you, you’ll see up close and in person how that looks. The blue can be misleading, but, suffice it to say, I’m unique to gaze upon – even if I do say so myself.

Well, this brings us to when I was twelve months old. If you come back in two weeks, you’ll hear about that year. Oh, and a new poem James tells me he is going to write for that post. It should be interesting.

Speaking of writing, you can scroll down and scribble a comment, letting me know what you think of my blog and James’ poems. I always like to hear from you, so please feel free to leave me a note about this or anything else that’s on your mind.

Until next time,
Sir Oliver of Skygate Farm (you can call me Ollie)


Paw Prints courtesy of
All photos © James Stack 2018 unless otherwise indicated