Ollie Ate My Homework: Is the Old Excuse Still Valid?

James tells me that’s the oldest excuse in the book. Of course, I’m not sure what or where “the book” is, but suffice it to say, I – did – not – eat – anyone’s – homework. Besides, what is homework? Okay, so maybe I ate it since I have no idea what that is.

Oh, no! I do not like what James told me about homework. I hope you no longer have to hand in (I would have to paw in) research papers and the like, much less take mid-semester and year-end exams. I can’t think of anything worse – except I’m not even sure what exams are either.

Oh, no! Take two. Exams sound like torture. How dreadful. I have to say, I like being a dog.

(Ollie playing in fresh fallen snow. Thank goodness he has long hair to keep him warm.)

This is what should be done with all homework and exams – that is if they’re still being done. Drum roll please….

Give them to me.

That’s right. I’ll gnaw on them, slobber all over them, bite into them, rip them apart, and even eat some of them. That’s right. I love to play with paper.

James asked what kind of paper. Well, I never thought about that before. But now that I am, I have to say it doesn’t matter what kind. Leave it lying around or unguarded in the trash and it’s fair game. I’ll take it and make a mess of it – at least a mess of what James might find me with. The rest will most likely be in my stomach.

(It doesn’t matter the type of paper, Ollie loves them all.)

Now I have to confess. I love it when we have guests come stay. They always leave the bedroom and bathroom doors open. That means any tissues or papers or candy wrappers they leave behind are quickly mine with which to abscond.

For some reason I don’t usually go far. Most likely James will find me in the hallway leading to our bedroom – yes, I sleep in the bed with James and Ron. Back to the paper – I like to lie on the carpet and use my front paws and mouth to rip into the envelope, document, newspaper, wrapping paper, any kind of paper. It’s so much fun. And it tastes good too.

Which reminds me. James wrote a poem about my making off with paper – he finds me every time – nearly, that is. Here’s the poem he wrote for your reading pleasure:


the house is festively garlanded
inside a delightfully decorated tree
underneath there are many presents
covered in colored wrapping paper

family and guests come a calling
their visits enhance the holidays
entertainments add to the joyous spirit
of the gift giving season

yet not when they absently leave
their residue lying around
for a stealth thief roams among us
my seven-month English Sheepdog

the bandit is my enquiring Ollie
who I see hankering after
discarded gift wrapping
for you possibly feel left out

yet beside you patiently waiting
packages you choose to ignore
inside are many gifts for you
of brand new chew toys

any easily accessible paper
          left on the floor
          accidentally dropped
          in a wastepaper basket aptly named
is fair game for your enjoyment

while some documents have a sentimental value
          letters and postcards
others might be considered purposefully dropped
          bills and invoices due
for your and my ongoing amusement
          but no that won’t do

while I’m not pleased about the mess you make
a smile does cross my face when
I realize the excuse could be true
          my dog ate my homework

yet it is now the wrinkled book pages
I find unsettling when you place
your wet face in the crease
of a book on my lap

such a demonstrative fellow you are
my dear sweet loveable Ollie
such a small price to pay
I wouldn’t have you any other way

The other day when I was taking a nap, right before I fell asleep, a thought came to me. Paper is made from wood. That’s right. The twigs, sticks, and limbs I told you about earlier, are the very things used to make paper products. How do I know this? James told me. So it makes sense that I’d like paper as much as I do.

And like James said in the poem, he wouldn’t have me any other way. Well, I wouldn’t have him any other way either. (Score! A double treat fell into my mouth – excuse me for talking with my mouth full.) I didn’t say that so I could get a treat. I said it because it’s the truth.

So, when you eat something, it has to go somewhere, right? First it goes into my mouth, then my throat, then my stomach, then…. You get the picture. Why am I telling you this? Well, come back in two weeks and find out about bathrooms. That’s right, the room inside the house, not my business. I’m sure you’ve heard enough about that.

But then I don’t know if you have. You can let me know in the comment section below. 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,
Short Stories - Author Webpage Help Needed
Sir Oliver of Skygate Farm (you can call me Ollie)

PS: Have a wonderful, safe, happy, and merry holiday.


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

How to Have Fun in the … Snow: Ollie’s First Winter

What is it about snow that brings out the adventurous athlete in us? I prefer to run and jump and roll around in it. James chooses to snowshoe, ski, and sled. Okay, so his type of sledding isn’t exactly the type with Bob in front of it. Still, it gets him outside to have fun, and that means I get to go with him – except when he goes skiing.

Yes, the operative word here is FUN.

Now some canines – some hum drum canines I know – don’t like the snow. They fly south for the winter like the birds. Sure, they don’t have a choice since their families are the ones doing the driving (their paws won’t reach the peddles), but because they spend the winter months in places like Florida, the Islands, and the Keys, they’ve never grown to appreciate the benefits of the winter months in a cold clime. I’m here to tell you that there is nothing – and I mean nothing – that compares to the enjoyment I have in the snow. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know sun rhymes with fun, but it’s the snow that I love.

Maybe it’s because I have long hair – at least most of the time – that I don’t mind the cold weather. Maybe it’s because I was born in a cold clime and spent my first year in one. Or just maybe it’s because I know how to have fun – there’s that word again – in the snow.

(Ollie having fun in the snow.)

It is interesting that I was frightened of some things when I was but a wee lad. Considering that one would assume I might have been frightened of the snow the first time I saw it. But, no. It was nothing like the white rock that seemed odd to me. It was nothing like the yellow pipe that stuck out of the ground and confused me. And sure, it was nothing like the clear, wet rain that fell from the sky. To me it was more like the leaves that fell from the trees. The flakes were things to be chased and, like the leaves, caught, and then forgotten once they melted in my mouth.

Then again, James kept telling me not to eat the snow. I couldn’t figure out why since it was like drinking frozen water. But it was the yellow snow he didn’t want me to eat. Now, that I can understand.

(Ollie kindly posing during a leisurely walk on the plowed road.)

The thing about snow in Vermont is that it lasts from November until April. It’s even been known to snow in May, but not since I’ve been here. Now six months of white – the roadsides are quickly gray – takes a toll. Every time we venture out I get small snowballs between the pads of my paws. Now imagine having an extra large marble stuck between your fingers and toes while trying to walk, much less run and jump. Yeah – that’s what it’s like.

Thank goodness for James. When I collapse and stick my paws in my mouth trying to remove those spheroids, who do you think comes to my rescue? Yes – James. (A treat! I wasn’t even trying for one, simply stating a fact.) He’ll bend over and inspect my paw. He’ll then take his gloves off, even in frigid cold, and work the snowy orbs from between my pads. I’m then able to continue in comfort for a while. As we continue on, still more snowballs collect between my pads. Believe me, it can be frustrating.

But here we are at the beginning of the snowy season, so I shouldn’t be complaining. I should be rejoicing. And I am by sharing one of James’ poems that he wrote about me and snow. Here it is for your reading pleasure:


I’m proud of you at six months
puffing out your chest as you
move onto the snow covered grass
your excitement shows
in a solo tango you perform
and the gurgling laughter
we can ever so slightly hear

prancing as if Rudolf through the snow
in an abundance of excitement and joy
the fluffy snow flies around you
as if you were truly a reindeer
about to take flight

running back on the driveway
the crystals settle behind you
leaving random patterns
as in a crazy quilt

your long Old English Sheepdog hair
that covers your feet
releases the clinging snow
and leaves powdered paw prints
like the tops of cupcakes
the icing on our outing

multiple mini snowballs
append to the hair on your legs
and between your pads
you nibble away at each
as if they are flavored slushy’s

this was the first of many yet to come
and it’s a good thing you favor it
since there will be more
and I will find great pleasure
in hiking and snowshoeing
through the depths with you

my fun
your fun
our fun
has begun

If you’ve been following me along every two weeks, you would have seen an earlier poem about the impressions I’m leaving in James and Ron’s lives. This poem has another example of the impressions my paws make in the snow, and it reminded me of that poem. If you missed it, you’ll be able to find Impressions here.

Which reminds me that the fun we are having is not something we experience alone. It is to be shared. Otherwise it’s only having a good time. Truly pleasurable times are shared with the ones you love. Yes, I love James and Ron. (Score! A double treat for me.) BTW – James says he loves me too.

So, I have to admit, I would never trade anything in the world for the time I spend with my two daddies. I do believe I’m one of, if not the, luckiest canines in the whole wide world. [Time for some hugs and kisses.]

Return, if you will, in two weeks and find out how such a simple thing as paper could draw my attention. You might think it’s the crinkly or crackly aspect that makes me interested in it. You might even think it’s the texture that has my taste buds salivating. Come back and find out.

Speaking of finding out, we’d love to know if you’re enjoying reading about my first year and the different poems James wrote. If so, let us know in the comment section below. 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,
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

Twigs, Sticks, & Limbs: Some of Ollie’s Favorite Things

Two weeks ago I told you about chewing with my baby teeth. One thing I neglected to mention was how, when James and I were outside, I still loved to chew on things. My favorite was anything made of wood. Now James and Ron have four Adirondack chairs made of delicious cedar. So what do you think happened?

James would gather up ten to twenty twigs, usually from sugar maple trees, and every time I went after a leg of one of the chairs, he’d put the woody limb between me and said chair leg. I have to admit that it was as if he was giving me a drug. That’s right. I became addicted to chewing on sweet, sugar maple twigs.

(Ollie having graduated to sticks.)

At first it was merely twigs. When I began snapping them in half and quarters and eights, James quickly gathered sticks. Now sticks are somewhat larger twigs. They have a nice heft to them, unlike the twigs that are light as paper. In other words, there’s more material to them. They feel better in the mouth, on the tongue, pressing against the teeth.

I outgrew sticks during my fifth month of life. Suffice it to say, my mouth and teeth enlarged and developed strength. Sticks simply didn’t cut it any longer. My addiction grew more pronounced, so I needed substantial timber. This is when I began chewing on tree limbs. Of course, it was the ones that were dead and fell to the ground. Believe me when I say bigger is better.

(Ollie using an almost limb as a cigar.)

Of course, I was yet to reach even half my full size or potential. It’s my belief that since I was going after tree limbs when still a puppy, James was worried about every piece of wood in the house. I have to admit that it only takes the smell of wood to drive me crazy. My saliva glans gush at the slightest scent. Wood is my opiate.

Which begs the question: are poems James’ opiate? It seems like he’s writing them night and day. Their topics are about various things, but the ones I like when he reads them out loud are the ones about me. Here’s the one he wrote about my chewing wood. I hope you like it as much as I do.


at twelve and one-half pounds
tiny twigs were found to be of relevance
even though in your sweet petite mouth
they seemed so immense

fascinating you for multiple hours
shreds of shoots were torn for their flavor
almost as quickly as they were found
as if rice paper attacked by multiple razors

there was a subtle fear that
you might ingest one or more pieces
but that was quickly put to rest when
the slivers became releases

as your weight increased
your attention graduated to sticks
to accommodate your enlarged jaws
on these you were now transfixed

with your teeth still baby sharp
they tore into the switches with ease
as they moved deeper to assault the molars
on your tender gums putting a squeeze

relaxing on the lawn
as one-by-one the stems you would decimate
we passed many an hour pleasantly
as if we had something to celebrate

the weight you carry
is approaching fifty pounds
in your twenty-second week
now five months have come round

your interest progressed
to timber the size of a branch
that fell from a tree we came across
while walking the ranch

the dimensions of the wood are quite wide
with segments you find of significance
so you drag the hefty limb longingly back
as I ogle at its magnificence

it keeps you busy
for the better part of an hour
as you gnaw at the meaningful parts
with the goal being to devour

with adult teeth popping through
your chewing has taken on a new style
you no longer use them as before
but give your molars a stimulating trial

it makes me wonder
if tomorrow you’ll begin
going after the trees
as if their bark were skin

it is the shade you love
much more than the sun
so you’ll never mow down
the canopy trees even for fun

it is the simple things
the unassuming elements
that satisfy us
giving the greatest contentment

whether it’s twigs sticks or limbs
that make for you a joy
I hope you know it’s you for me
for you are my sweet boy

Oh, I do love this poem. James is the one who is sweet. (Score! A treat fell into my mouth.) But it’s true. Not only that, but I love the shade when we are outside. Especially when I was young. Half of the hair on my body was black back then. It absorbed the sun’s rays, making me hot. Even now my hair is a blue-merle color where it isn’t white.

As for chewing, we canines communicate with our mouths, similar to humans. Only we use out mouths not only to bark, but also to bite. Ninety-nine percent of the biting we do is in jest. It’s how we play with one another besides the running and chasing we do. Never fear that one percent, for it’s only done for protection. So long as we are treated well and provided with vast quantities of treats, we will never bite in that manner. (Yes, several more treats have found my mouth. See how much fun James is.)

Which reminds me. When we received the first snowfall of my first year, I discovered a whole new form of fun. Come back and visit with me and find out what I mean.

By the way, James has nothing to fear. I’m not going to chop down a tree with my chewing.

Before I go, I wanted to say I hope you’re enjoying reading about my first year and the different poems James wrote. If so, let us know in the comment section below. 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,
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 Baby Teeth: Why Puppies Chew

If you know anything about puppies, or babies for that matter, we like to chew on things. We’ll put anything, and I do mean anything, in our mouths. Philosophers have queried why this is the case for centuries. Well, I’m here to spill the kibble as to why we’ll put pebbles (Yes, I’ve worked my way back to those.) or sticks (Coming to a screen near you soon.) or dirty, filthy shoes – even our own stinking toes – in our most prominent orifice and gnaw away. Drum roll please…. It feels good. That’s right – so simple. Good is good.

(Ollie content in the autumn partial shade.)

Who would ever think that wood, plastic, rubber, rope, paper, and stones, leather, metal, glass, tissues, and cloth were so delicious? Well, if you must know, I think so. The tastiest of all is skin. You got it. With my baby sharp teeth I would bite and bite and bite on James’ hand. After all, he put it in my mouth repeatedly. Truth be told, I’d bite it until he screamed, “Ouch!” That told me it was time to bite more gently. Now that was a fun game we played. Like I said, it felt good to gnaw down on his hand. Good is good.

Of course, that game became stale after I was in my twenties – weeks that is. We didn’t play it as often by that time. However, by then I was going after everything in sight. The molding on the bottom of the walls, chair legs, window sills, name it and I thought the circus was in town.

James also came to town as my shadow. Well, he was always my shadow, following me everywhere I went. He wouldn’t cut me any slack. I did manage to get some good chewing in on several items before he brought out the sour apple spray. Boy is that stuff yucky – blah. Gross. Next thing I knew, James was spraying it on things I would be moseying up to. He thought I was going to start in on whatever it was – and he was right. He sure is smart. (A treat! I love James. Another treat!)

One day while I was whiling away the time gnawing on my gray elephant I called Ellie something stabbed my throat. I thought it was piece of Ellie’s trunk or her eye, but it was one of my teeth. I gagged and coughed it up from halfway down my throat. It shot across the room and landed beside James’ shoes. (I do love chewing on his shoes.) Anyway, after James picked it up and taped it to a piece of paper, dang if another tooth from the other side of my mouth didn’t do the same thing.

Version 2
(The molar on which Ollie gagged – slightly out of focus.)

Both of these molars were taped to the same piece of paper and filed away for safekeeping. Only James can’t seem to find them now. Perhaps they are too safely kept. Oh, well, it’s fine with me, but it’s been driving James crazy while I’ve been dictating this to him. (He has to do the typing since my paws are too large for the keyboard.) He wanted to take a better picture than the one he found. Suffice it to say, I’m glad I chucked both of them up as they might have done some serious damage to my stomach if I swallowed them.

All of this reminds me that James wrote a poem about my teeth. Here it is for your reading pleasure:


stones and grit cross your lips
causing me to fret
they’ll damage your choppers
my solace is these are still your baby teeth
sharper than a shave
cutting through wood rubber
cloth and skin

from a spray bottle
comes the flavor of sour apple
materializing on surfaces
such as the baseboard
you selectively chew
leading you to gnaw incessantly
on playthings made of rubber and cloth
for now

your front row of piercing bottom daggers
mysteriously disappears as if overnight
yet no tooth fairy makes off with them
to this I can attest
and soon they are permanently replaced
by still larger fangs replicating
their previous incisors prior action
like vampire talons
these dagger like teeth
tear the skin of my fingers
while giving you treats

the orange and red rubber rooster
whose squeak you so admire
is the first of your favorite playthings
to die a gruesome death
next to expire your navy-blue shark
out rips the inside of the mouth
then the stuffing tears out
the green gator you love so much
becomes your ensuing unfortunate victim
even though you are ever so gentle
as you sweetly sever its feet

then comes the night of surprises
when at twenty-one weeks
while tossing and chewing your gray elephant
you unexpectedly cough up a molar
still it is one of your infant teeth
a blade that created extensive damage
to many an object of derision
mostly those made of wood
a second cough you deliver
produces yet a second spectacular molar
mementoes to be cherished
like baby shoes in copper

you’ll grow to use your blades
pulling apart rope toys
swallowing those pieces of twine
as your tines rip and tear
and still more teeth will disappear
with each day as you age
to be gaps in your mouth
you’ll never miss for
steadily pushing in are the adult variety
finalizing at around eight months
thirty-five weeks of grazing grinding
before your teeth will be the grown-up assortment

I repeat silent prayers
that you’ll get to your eighth month swiftly
which I know you will
far too quickly
and I know or should
that your chewing won’t stop there
you’re a lifetime nibbler
which is only fair
so I’ll start to brush them
each morning and night
which you’ll let me do
surprisingly being quite nice

the only thing I’d change
if it were in my power
would be to lengthen the lifespan
during which you’d utilize these teeth
for I know it won’t be long enough

Isn’t that sweet? It chokes me up every time I reread the last part of this poem. To think, I was also choked up when I almost swallowed those two molars. Believe me, their edges were super sharp from where they pulled away from my gums.

Besides, I plan on being around for quite some time. Yes, and I’ll be chewing and nibbling on anything left on the floor. That’s right. Clothing, papers, pens, anything that’s found its way to the floor is fair game. Just sayin’. Should you come and visit Skygate Farm, you’ll know what I mean should you ever leave anything on the floor.

Which reminds me. In two weeks I’ll tell you about the sticks I once chewed. Well, I’ll still chew on wood from trees. Come back and visit with me and you’ll find out what I mean. We’d like to see you then.

Speaking of like, we hope you like reading about my first year and the different poems James wrote. If so, let us know in the comment section below. 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,
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

Intoxicating Invisible Wind: Ollie at Five Months

I’ve noticed multiple times something of which I’d like to share with you. We’ll be riding down the road and an approaching car will have their windows down. As they pass I’ll notice a fellow canine hanging his head out of the window, ears flapping in the breeze. This friend’s lips are fluttering as they attempt to maintain the curve of a grin. Yes, these are the lucky ones who get to stick their heads out into the oncoming wind.

When I was a young lad, James let me ride in the front seat with him. Well, not in his lap, but in the seat across from him. Still, he never rolled down the windows while we were moving. He told me, but at the time I didn’t quite understand, that it was a dangerous thing to do. Even the tiniest bug could put one of my eyes out if it slammed into me while we were traveling at fifty plus miles an hour with my head hanging out the window. Still, I must admit, it looks like tons of fun.

(Ollie requesting to ride out the front window in the car.)

Of course, there was a time when I didn’t know the wind existed. It never seemed to mean anything to me. Then one day while James and I were hanging around outside, he reading and me playing, I began hearing noises. These were sounds I never heard before. James said they were always there, but I never paid them any attention.

Regardless, I finally heard them. They were speaking a strange language, like the language James was speaking at the time that I now understand. It didn’t make any sense to me. Also, I didn’t know where or who they were. I kept looking over at James to see if he heard them too. He kept his nose in the book he was reading, so I figured he wasn’t able to hear them.

Suddenly, in the distance, the bushes and trees began twitching. Something was about to bound out of them. I moseyed over beside James, hoping he could scare whatever it was away. If not, at least pick me up and run into the house. When nothing came out of the shrubs, and James quit petting me, the rumbling they were making stopped as well.

Now, I’m not saying I was always afraid. Still, I do have to admit that when I didn’t know what something was, I depended upon James to protect me or, at the least, to let me know what it is. When the racket in the wilds started up again, I once more leaned in-between James’ legs. He finally figured that I was worried about the movement happening behind the shrubberies.

It was then he informed me that it was nothing to worry about – easy for him to say. It was only the wind. Well, not understanding what he was talking about, much less would I have known what the wind was even if I could have understood him, my imagination began thinking it might be a huge animal come to eat me. Perhaps there was a mean Doberman, like the one at the breeders of whom I was in constant fear. As I pressed firmly into his leg, James got the message. He picked me up and tried to explain about the wind.

It seemed odd to me now that the very thing that made my fellow pooches enjoy sticking their head out the car window was making we anxious. After calming down from being in James’ arms, he held me in such a manner that I got the message that it was okay to worry about the rustling of branches. It could very well be another animal or human. Being on ones guard is a good thing. Yeah. That’s what I was doing. Being on my guard.

(Ollie on his guard, watching the wind.)

There’s a poem James wrote about my experience with the wind. This particular poem, like most of James’ writing, has seen different iterations. Here it is in its current form for your reading pleasure:


sitting peacefully
you casually move your head side-to-side
as if watching a tennis match
unsure of the sound
as it doesn’t resemble a ball or racket
yet aware of a difference
having never taken notice before

tilting your head sideways
resting inquisitively
it gently whispers in your upturned ear
words only you can understand
or perhaps not

desiring to discern their meaning
as you pensively ponder what it is saying
there is a distraction
a falling leaf to which
you move to investigate
having forgotten about
the hubbub above

the foliage smells
of the passage of time
and before long you are
enquiring of the murmurs
some spoken in hushed tones
others squeaking louder

unexpectedly you cause your own mutter
which surprises and
causes you to eventually turn
and sniff behind you
which for some reason
you find pleasing

off in the distance
you notice the rattling
of the bush branches
knowing something
but not what
is making them move

rearing back in anticipation
of the unknown
yet to be seen
perhaps an imaginary beast
bringing a rising dread
as you move closer
leaning into me

it is nothing for you to fear
my dear little friend Ollie
but a cool breeze
as it blows through the trees

and then you are off like a rocket
after the golden
flying objects

autumn has brought with it
the enthusiasm of the chase
and the ecstasy you discover
in the rambling crusty piles of leaves

and this is what the uttering gusts were saying
nature bestows wonders to behold
for your enjoyment and fun
so live fully in the brief time you have
grasp each moment
relish every opportunity
you are but twenty-one weeks
and have a long yet short span
in which to treasure them all

I can’t believe James left in the part about my flatulence. That is so embarrassing. It must be because he thinks it’s cute. Well, perhaps it is funny – a little. Okay, I used to find it humiliating, but now I laugh each time I read that part. I hope others find it refreshing – pun intended. (Score! A treat for me.)

A gust of air is one of those things that can change how I perceive the world. When blowing in the right direction, I can smell another animal or animal product. Otherwise, I might run right by it. Also, it can lead me to believe something or someone is hiding in the brush. The wind can be tricky.

One has to watch out for the breeze. It can blow even James off his feet. Yet it can also be revitalizing on a hot summer day. For instance, while sitting in the shade when a draft blows by is as if I’ve jumped into a cool pond or lake. With my long hair, believe me, I know a thing or two about shade and wafts of wind.

Come back in two weeks and hear about my teeth. They were forever nibbling and biting when I was a puppy. James even has a picture of one of my molars. We hope to see you then.

Speaking of hope, we hope you’re enjoying reading about my first year and the different poems James wrote. If so, let us know in the comment section below. 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,
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 Twentieth Week: The Distractions of Pebbles and Dirt

It’s not easy for me to admit. Still, I must confess. I chewed pebbles and ate dirt when I was but a little lad. My breeder, well, I don’t like disparaging anyone, but the truth is she didn’t feed me enough. (James says she may have fed me plenty. With eight brothers and sisters and my pacifying personality, I may not have gotten enough food. That’s fair.)

Anyway, every small stone I’d find could have been spilled kibble, so I’d saunter over to it and put it in my mouth. I wouldn’t even smell it. When I arrived at Skygate Farm, James was worried that I’d swallow these nuggets, but all I did was chew on them. Besides, they felt good against my baby teeth.

Now rich, black soil was another matter all together. That I gladly savored before swallowing. I grew accustomed to eating it before coming to live with James and Ron. It helped fill my nearly empty stomach. James was afraid eating dirt would give me worms. (Well, if you’ve forgotten, when I entered James and Ron’s life I was being given medication for the larvae I’d gotten while still at the breeders. We’ll never know if these bugs came from dirt or one of my siblings – just sayin’.)

Since no one at the breeders had cared whether I chewed stones or ate soil, I was under the impression it was okay. When James started trying to get me to leave or drop them, I thought he wanted to deprive me. I was so confused. The good news was he offered me more kibble when I left them alone. That taught me that if I kept going after both the gritty pieces and compact ground that I’d get more and more food from James. It was only rational that the rewards made me want to go after the gravel and grime more often. It became a cruel cycle; but what did I know? I was but a lost sole unsure of what the future held.

Version 2
(Ollie attempting to look like a lost sole, unsure of his future.)

Once I knew that I could trust James and Ron, I was still convinced that they would give me more food if I kept implying I was going to eat the pebbles I found. After all, I had trained them to do that. (It should be noted that they were quick learners.) As for dirt, well, I still liked the taste of it. I can’t explain it. Take my word for it that dirt is delicious. (Okay. James asked me to let you know I no longer eat dirt. Like he says, I surpassed the age when it was meaningful.)

That reminds me. James wrote a poem about my interest in pebbles and dirt. When I think about it now, it is a little embarrassing to admit. Still, when you understand that I was using them as training tools to get more food from James and Ron, I think you’ll understand.

Here’s that poem.

Pebbles & Dirt

down the driveway we go
on early morning excursions
with Ollie stopping along the way
to pick up tiny pebbles

I figure out by week twenty
after you started this at week eight
since you were hungry when you arrived
these small stones resemble kibble

I think to myself
therein lies an opportunity
to impart the lessons of
“drop it” and “leave it”

of course
since you believe them to be food
the last thing you wanted to do
is to let them go

I worry
they might be swallowed causing
indigestion requiring your stomach
to be evacuated

perhaps it’s their salty taste
or when you can’t chew them
the realization sets in
that they aren’t what you anticipate

and since it’s the season
the tractors are out and about
depositing pads of soil
you find to your liking

you eat dirt by the ounce
or pound if I’d let you
soon I learn drop or leave doesn’t work
with rich black top soil

these globs of gravel and grain
are not of the substantive sort
yet populate our drive and yard
thrilling you and disturbing me

of this I am convinced
that when the pebbles and particles
are frozen solid and hidden
you’ll soon forget them

the spring arrives
the stones and dirt will freed
you’ll sniff at them and realize
they’re to be ignored

as you grow into your lose skin
filling out your form handsomely
your body will adjust nicely
to the size of your too-large paws

it will
be time to drop and leave
the pebbles and dirt you once prized
as well as the kibble known as puppy food

as you mature into adulthood

When I think about the stuff James says in this poem, there are so many more things I have to tell you about my first year. There were so many new experiences for me. At least once a week James would take me for a ride in the car to a new place. He wanted to expose me to as many things as he could while I was young so I wouldn’t be afraid of them.

Stick around and I’ll fill you in on all of them. Every other week I’ll keep you informed about what happened. James wrote a poem about each of them, so there’ll be a new verse each time.

There is one in particular for which we didn’t have far to go for me to experience it. The thing about it that is most peculiar is it’s invisible. It can’t be seen. Only what it does is visible. Any guesses what it is? No? It’s wind. That’s right. Come back in two weeks to see how I reacted to the concealed force that caused things around me to move without any sign of their having legs.

We hope you’re having as much fun reading about my first year and the different poems James wrote as we are in telling you. If so, let us know in the comment section below. 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,
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 Nineteenth Week (Continued): Summer’s Rain Brings Rainbows

It came to me out of the blue, or perhaps I should say the gray. Whenever it rained, I had to sit by the door and wait while James put on his yellow slicker. Instead of wearing one of his hats, he’d don a baseball cap so his head would fit under the raincoat’s hood. As I drummed the nails in my paw on the slate floor, anxious to get outside, he’d place a water absorbent mat on the floor he’d been given by his niece, Liz Hartzman. (Thank you, Liz.) While I was still tapping away, James would get a huge, black umbrella out of the chinoiserie umbrella stand by the front door.

You’d think he was made of sugar. Oh, I mean, he is made of sugar. He has to be, he’s so sweet. (Where’s my treat? Good grief, I was only kidding. Can’t you take a joke? Score, a treat!)

Like I was saying, James was covered from above his head to his toes so as not to get wet when it was raining. Even the slightest drizzle would be cause for him to bundle up tight. Well, he does have a mind of his own, something I know about since I, too, have a mind of my own.

It was my mind, and being covered with hair that was mostly repellant to rain, that led me to enjoy wondering around in the rain. After all, a little water never hurt anyone. While I might have been anxious to go outside, it had nothing to do with why James thought we were going out there. No, indeed. I was in no hurry to do my business, as James calls it. There were too many other distractions for me to even consider relaxing and letting it flow.

(Ollie with soaking legs, paws, and mouth – and beautiful China-blue eyes.)

Of course, I did learn early on that if I waited, it meant more treats for me. James took a behavioral course where he learned to use a clicker. When I do my business, he clicks it. When he clicks it, I get a treat. The size and amount of the treat, I’ve learned, depends upon how happy James is that I’ve completed our time outside. I love what that course did for James’ behavior.

You see, I learned that if I went right away, we’d turn around and go immediately back inside. However, if I waited, we’d not only stay out longer, but I would get a big reward for finally having gone. I also learned there was a limit to how long I could wait, depending upon how forceful the water was falling from the sky. It’s all in the timing.

(Ollie’s first double rainbow on a gray day.)

Speaking of timing, have you ever seen a rainbow? The first time I saw one, there were actually two of them. That’s right, a double take by both nature and me. I lay there in awe. As for timing, the sun has to be at the right angle to reflect those vivid colors off the moisture particles in the sky. How do I know this? James told me. He’s so smart. (Score! Another treat for me!)

Well, getting back to the rain, James wrote a poem about how he hates it. I can’t say that I agree since it not only waters everything that grows, it also has the potential to end in a brilliant rainbow. Still, I love the end of this poem.

Here it is. I hope you like it.


god how I hate a downpour
having to use an umbrella
            with a leash
while attempting to give you a treat
with that training clicker tool
to indicate a reward

god how I hate a shower
straining to keep us dry
            with only two hands
bidding you stay beside me
when at nineteen weeks
you have a mind of your own

god how I hate a cloudburst
having to cover myself with nylon
            with a zipper and hood
remaining for the duration
knowing at my age not to play in the rain
but at yours you have no idea

god how I hate a soaker
toweling dry your long hair
            with a loud blow-dryer
stopping you from biting it or
pulling away from the noise
providing treats to occupy your nibbling mouth

god how I hate the condensation
brushing your soft locks
            with they’re moist hair
keeping you from gnawing
unable to do it alone
feeding you more treats and praying

god how I hate a sprinkle
hurrying to return indoors
            with you’re bladder full
keeping one eye on the clock
the other on you to
catch an accident before it happens

god how I hate the rain
leaving the world soaked
            with it’s constant falling
striving to keep my shoes dry
with your paws getting saturated
having to repeat the toweling blowing combing and

god how I love you lying asleep
after being out in the rain
            damp to the core
knowing we’re at peace
while the hands of my heart
reach out and envelop you

It is a fact that James’ heart has hands. I know because I’ve felt them – warm and moist, and a little salty when I lick them. Come to think of it, everyone’s heart has hands. Some choose to use those extremities. We dogs know who those people are.

As for the rain, James never has gotten used to being out in it. For me, it’s a time to splish and splash like I’m taking a bath even if it isn’t Saturday night. Oh, the simple joys of life have such pleasant reminiscences. To think, I’m still making memories when it rains.

In two weeks I’ll tell you about my early experience with pebbles and dirt. I’m not sure James wants to go there, but he did write another poem about that. Come back and see what he wrote. He said I could share it with you.

We hope you’re enjoying reading about my first year and the different poems James wrote. Let us know your opinion in the comment section below. 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,
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 Nineteenth Week: Summer’s Surprising Golden Dandelions

I’m an artist. At least that’s what James called me after I painted the carpet. You see, when I ran around outside in the fields and got dandelion pollen on my legs, I came inside and painted the rug with yellow stripes, streaks, angles, and curves. He called me an impressionist. Not only because of my artistic talents, but also because of the delightful impression I made (and still make, if I may be so bold) on people.

That was back in my nineteenth week. I have to admit that it appeared strange to me when James told me he didn’t like dandelions. I love the vibrancy from their golden flowers. At the time there were so few of them, while his garden (into which I am not allowed to step a single paw) had plenty of other yellow blossoms that didn’t interest me at all. None of them turned into magic fairy wands. Nor did their seeds explode into the air, twirling around in the wind.

Okay, so James claimed his yard was full of them, but I only saw a dozen or more. He called them weeds. Well, as everyone knows, a weed is simply a misplaced flower. (Credit for this expression goes to my cousin and James’ niece, Laura Tebbitt.) Regardless, I found them to my liking, especially when they became the enchanted puffballs. While I tried to gobble them down, James used his walking stick to whack at them.

Like dandelions do for me, I hope I bring pleasure into James’ life. He gave me a childhood of constant love and encouragement. (Score, multiple treats!) It’s true.

Well, around my nineteenth week I was beginning to sprout like a weed, or so James said. When I look at the pictures he took, I don’t see it. Do you?

(Ollie at nineteen weeks, sprouting like a weed.)

Weed or not, dandelions are natures way of providing rays of sunshine on cloudy days. Their pollen is rather potent. It attaches to my hair, be it on my legs or elsewhere should I roll around on the ground. I don’t know why the bees and butterflies like it so much. When I try to lick it off, it doesn’t taste like butter, or honey for that matter.

James says he doesn’t mind brushing it out of my hair. I do laugh when the pollen is simply spread across my paws into a lighter shade. It’s either that or because my paws are ticklish.

Like butterflies and shoelaces, James wrote a poem about my interaction with dandelions. At the time he wrote it, I didn’t understand what he meant at the end of it. Now I do.

Here’s that poem. I hope you enjoy reading it.


bright yellow attracts your attention
as the late summer’s rustic oracles
populate the yard and meadow

you run around them
turning your white slipper paws
the color of a vibrant sunrise

the radiance is licked off
as each day passes
until there is no more to absorb

puffs of powdery amulets materialize
magnetizing your curiosity
appearing to request you play with them

snatching these blow balls with your mouth
you want to carry them away
or swallow whole

puff – they disappear
as if the grass fairies
waved their magic wands

by your nineteenth week
long gone are the parachuting seeds
and the only thing sprouting is you

yet in the spring
they will return in abundance
as will you

my Old English Sheepdog pup
and wiser

Being older and wiser has its advantages. Still, it was so much fun when those fairy-wand puffballs were larger than my nose. I thought they would taste like cotton candy. (Okay, so that’s what James thought I thought. I’ve never had cotton candy in my life.) The thing is, they tasted like dust. So, of course, after trying a few, I gave up eating them.

Now the green leaves, those are a different matter. While they don’t taste as good as the grass growing in the hay fields, they are tasty when they first arrive in the spring. James says they add a kick to a spring salad. Being older and wiser, I know that I don’t want anyone kicking me, especially when I’m eating.

Come back in two weeks and I’ll disclose how I feel about rain. Not that it’s a secret. Only I’m covering one topic at a time. Oh, yeah, and James wrote another poem about rain and me. He said I could share it with you.

We hope you’re enjoying reading all the different poems James wrote during my first year. Let us know your opinion in the comment section below. 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,
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 Eighteenth Week (Continued): Chasing Elusive Butterflies

There came a day when I discovered things that flitted around in the air. They arrived in colors that looked delicious to eat. We all know sweet, sugary things come in bright, bold colors. All, that is, except chocolate. Of course, I am never allowed to eat chocolate.

James said these fluttering things that were about the size of my nose (okay, some were larger – remember, I’m eighteen weeks old) are called butterflies. The very thought of eating butter makes my mouth water to this day. Have you ever gotten hold of a used cob of corn that’s been doused in golden butter? No? What? (James says I need to stay on topic.)

As soon as I would spy these flying, slender-slabs of butter, I would begin the chase. They had an advantage. They could fly higher than I could jump. Another benefit they possessed was their capacity to change direction in a nanosecond. I, on the other hand, once committed to a direction was required to follow through. Their soaring and darting abilities were enough to make me even more determined to gobble one down.

(One that got away.)

It wasn’t as if every time we went outside I found a butterfly to challenge. Still, when I did see them, and the biggest ones started appearing around my eighteenth week, I would charge. It would have been nice had James tried to help me catch one or more, but all he did was laugh. What was so funny? I don’t know. He said I looked adorable dashing around after them. To me, adorable earns a smile, not a laugh. Just sayin’.

(Ollie giving a little attitude – just sayin’.)

Well, James had so much fun at my expense he wrote a poem celebrating my inability to catch even one of these little critters. I remember the first time he read it out loud. He thought I was sleeping. I admit that I didn’t find it funny at all. No siree bob.

Today I think it’s a sweet poem. I especially like the part about butterflies being toys. It was great fun trying to snare one. Anyway, here’s that poem. I hope you enjoy reading it.


running with abandon
through the newly mowed
or tall grass
you frolic
at the white
hoping against hope
chasing against chase

darting left
then right
changing direction
the winged creatures

at eighteen weeks you relish the joy
in a flash it passes
into the grass or
doubles back over your head
never even aware it‘s being dogged
searching for nectar
pursuing a mate
while you hound in vain
or for the fun of the hunt

it’s merely amusing
an exercise for you
for what would you do with success

a moment of pleasure for me
bringing a smile to my face
as I watch you romp
with a spontaneous toy
brought by Mother Nature
during early autumn

James tells me it was better that I was running after butterflies than cars. Of course, we live more than half a mile from the nearest road, so, even if I wanted to chase cars, there are none around. That is except for the occasional visitor.

A butterfly never did make its way into my mouth. After they disappeared in the fall, it wasn’t until the following spring they reappeared. By then I had lost interest in them. Well, truth be told, I did begin going after them again, but gave up the chase quickly when I remembered how industriously they acted at escaping. Besides, they are one of the more beautiful wonders of nature.

Also, James told me that birds don’t eat them, particularly the monarchs, because they taste bad. Now if he had only told me that when I was a youngster, I might not have bothered to try so persistently. Then again, I might have. One of the things we’ll never know.

Stick around, and in two weeks I’ll tell you about my experience with dandelions. Of course, James wrote a poem about that as well. I’ll be happy to share it with you – with his permission, that is.

We hope you’re enjoying reading all the different poems James wrote during my first year. Let us know your opinion in the comment section below. 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,
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 Eighteenth Week: Shoelaces Prove Irresistible

Simply Irresistible! I heard that song the other day for the first time. James said it was an old song from the last century. Wow! Now that’s old. Okay, so age has nothing to do with the topic at hand, but the song did remind me of the topic for this post.

For some unknown reason I can’t possibly explain, shoes are seductive to me. James thinks it’s because of their odor. I do know that when I was a puppy, before my adult teeth had arrived, I loved to chew on shoe leather and rubber. (Yes, there were other things I liked to chew, but shoes were mouthwatering.)

James and Ron took to putting their footwear on high surfaces to keep them away from me. However, at the first sign of either of them having forgotten, my mouth became a magnet. Before anyone knew it, one of the shoes was being ground by my sharp, baby teeth. They both still have multiple pairs with signs of my calling card: bite marks and tears.

Then again, even when James was wearing his shoes, if they had laces, BANG! Those stringy, flopping things always had my attention. I especially liked the tennis-shoe laces that had a hard, plastic tip. I could snap those off with one quick crunch. This same action would unravel the lace, leaving it to drag behind and in the dirt, making it all the tastier. Yummmmm!

(Ollie focused on James’ tennis shoelaces instead of taking care of business at the Orvis fire hydrant.)

Sometimes, while James was watching me (You remember. He stayed with me so I wouldn’t do my business inside.), he’d start to read a book or play with his cell phone. I’d saunter over and gently begin chewing on his laces. It felt so good when my pointy teeth would snare on one of the bows or my aching gums where a new tooth was trying to come through would chomp on the fabric. I can’t explain it. I was in ecstasy.

I’ve heard James say, “Life is not a dress rehearsal,” at least a hundred times. (Okay, I exaggerate, but only a little.) Well, I’ve taken him at his word. Even at eighteen weeks, I knew to live life to the fullest. If it means being chastised for chewing footgear, then so be it. (Yeah, I still chew shoes to this day – I simply can’t help myself.)

Anyway, James wrote a poem about my chewing on his shoelaces and his attempts to prevent me. Little did he know that giving me a treat when I stopped only served to reward my having been chewing. (Oh, he asked me why I didn’t let him know back then. It was because we couldn’t communicate like we do today.)

Regardless, here’s that poem for your reading pleasure:


your eighteen-week-old puppy mouth
is repeatedly attracted
to chewing on my tennis-shoe laces
for some mysterious motive
          perhaps from their many years
                    of use and abuse
          there is a steaming stench
                    of a puppy magnet

substitutions are placed
directly in front of your mouth
on which it would be okay to chew
but to you
nothing tastes as tangy
as my ripened ties

these are no ordinary footwear
on which the laces reside
to Southeast Asia and Europe
they have traveled wide
          perhaps something loiters
                    from those locales
          a splash of spilt fish sauce
                    or splattered boeuf bourguignon

whatever it is
I wish you’d stop
making them a priority
whilst you linger at my feet
although I’d gladly give them to you
had I another pair

          rethinking that proposition
                    it isn’t such a grand idea
                    as then shoes
                    may become
                    a permanent object
                    of your desire

no – leave well enough alone
replace the laces with chew toys
as in time they will be exchanged
with other ties that bind

Shoelaces don’t hold the same allure today, but I couldn’t get enough of them when I was eighteen weeks old. Shoes on the other hand, well, they are an all-together different matter. Still, James and Ron have figured out a way to stop me from chewing them. I’ll fill you in on that secret later.

If you stay tuned, in two weeks I’ll share with you the poem on butterflies James wrote, and my attraction to them. Well, maybe it was more of an interest than an attraction. They are beautiful to behold.

We hope you’re enjoying reading all the different poems James wrote during my first year. Let us know your opinion in the comment section below. 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,
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