Ollie’s Sixteenth Week: Play Dates & Toys Galore

It finally arrived – my being four months old. In dog years, I was around eight, having learned right from wrong – well, mostly. Also, there was no longer any need to ration my drinking water. Things were getting better for James. At least I thought so.

When you reach the ripe old age of eight, what do you want to do? Well, I wanted to play all the time, except when I was sleeping. Of course, I wanted to chew on anything and everything, so James and Ron kept giving me new toys. I had a ton of them. There were so many that they became obstacles leading to a potential accident. Which meant that James became obsessed with picking them up and putting them in a red, plastic, milk carton.

(Ollie sleeping peacefully and snuggling with his toys from which he can’t seem to be separated.)

As soon as all my toys were safely put away, I began taking them out one at a time and depositing them around the house. I knew what I was doing. There were things like furniture and rugs I longed to chew, so I placed my toys, what James called “chew toys,” where these items were so I wouldn’t be tempted to gnaw on a chair leg or fringe of a rug. Then, wouldn’t you know, James would remove the toys, making the chair and rug more appealing. We had yet to figure out how to communicate.

I was doing my best to be a good boy, what James and Ron called me when I did my business outside got a delicious treat. However, it seemed to James that I was misbehaving and being disobedient when I would, as he said, scatter my toys all over the house. Then, when my friends would come over to play, I left the toys to their own devices.

Yes, I had fun playing with all my friends. As James has often said, he becomes invisible when other people or fellow dogs are around. My complete attention is on these visitors. After all, James is with me all the time. I mean he won’t even leave me alone for more than four hours at night since that’s the limit to my bladder’s holding capacity. (That’s for another blog post.)

(Ollie having the time of his life with human friends who love to take him for a ride on their toys.)

As I was saying, my toys and playmates took precedent to all else. I thought James was jealous, but the poem he wrote about this indicates he was happy for me. Well, what did I know? I was only eight years old (sixteen weeks – four months).

Without further ado, here’s that poem:


a red lobster
a steely elephant
a black hard-rubber tire
a gray squirrel and green alligator
a brown monkey and a crimson puppy
an orange octopus and a scarlet inch worm
a navy blue shark and a clear sky-blue rubber bone
a yellow crab and a multi-colored ball made of strings
a hard-rubber red barbell and a brown triangle spheres
a yellow and red squeaky rooster and a checkerboard turtle
a couple of wood flavored nyla twigs and a pastel rubber bone
a few kongs on different length rope and several blond nyla bones
a multitude of plastic dinosaurs and a navy with white dots squeaky barbell
and some I’m sure I’ve forgotten

of these many playthings
there are those you consider quite special
such that they comfort you
in your den each night

as you’ve gotten to be a bigger boy
having reached sixteen weeks
every morning you take
each one out of your crate

it seems while in your bed
you no longer want to play
so today they start to stay
in a red plastic milk container

I watch as you
take each one out
of this toy box
to occupy your time and energy
you place specific ones in a long line in the hall
as if for some strategic purpose
yet scatter the rest
throughout the house

some we’ve even taken outside
for your enjoyment in the fresh air
you thrash them about in the grass and dirt
which are then in need of a bath
as are you

we take a few of your favorites
for an overnight at Saddle Mountain
but Jillian doesn’t need a single one
for after being introduced to the other dogs
all you want to do is to hang with the pack

when you have play dates
such as with Scout and Maggie
over to share in your fun
these same desired toys
find a stillness as they are left alone

at home when you are by yourself
it is with these substitute toys that you play
but you frolic with your many friends
when they visit or you are away

something I’ve unexpectedly noticed
while you are occupied with your guests
these same extraordinary toys
are secretly smiling
as they watch you
spreading so much joy

Okay, I think the poem is nice – sweet, actually – but I don’t think any of my toys can really smile. I mean, their stuffed and stuff, if you know what I mean. Sure, one or more might have a smile imprinted on their gob (that’s English for mouth – I am an Old English Sheepdog after all), but that doesn’t mean they were happy for me gnawing on them all the time. James says that’s “literary license,” and he is using “personification” that means he’s giving human features to inanimate objects. James is so smart. (Yippee! A treat!)

We hope you’re enjoying my first year and reading the poems James wrote. Come back in two weeks time and read about sleep – yes, that’s right, what James tries to do at night and what I do most of the time.

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 Fifteenth Week: Frantic for Sweet Sleep

So it continues. Had I known how often James complained when I was but an innocent young puppy, I, well, I’m not sure what I would have done. After all, while he was training me, I was also training him. (James, don’t look at me like that. You know it’s true. What? You typed that? Silly human.)

Here we were in the sixth week of being together. I had already fallen in love with Trek, but he was gone now. It looked as if I had no choice but to direct my love towards James. I mean, he was being so loving towards me, and I had hardly given him the time of day what with my BFF Trek around.

(Ollie trying not to be depressed over losing his BFF Trek.)

I have to admit that I was a little depressed. Sure, so were James and Ron. It seemed we were all sleeping most of the time. At least I know Ron and I were getting shuteye as often as possible. James, on the other hand, hardly got any sleep. Of course, he only has himself to blame. I, on the other hand, was doing all I could not to weep openly whenever Trek’s name was mentioned.

Besides, I wasn’t yet four months old. James says that meant I had to go outside at least every three hours, and after playing, and after sleeping. If you remember, the water was still being rationed, so I’m not sure why James was being so conscientious about my pee.

Think about it for a moment. No one, not even us canines, want to do our business where we play and eat. Of course, I never wanted to excuse myself in the mudroom or stone hall, where I was now confined. Nevertheless, I was dependent upon James taking me outside so I could go. Even out there, he never left me alone. I like a little privacy, if you get my drift.

(Ollie refusing to go since he likes his privacy.)

Anyway, James wrote a poem about how he was so sleep deprived. I have to admit that he doesn’t actually blame me for losing sleep. However, he sure does imply it. You be the judge.

Here’s that poem:


how I miss it
embracing me
within the down comforter’s warmth
lulling my senses
refreshing my mind
conveying comfort
releasing tension

how I envy you
at fifteen weeks
lying on the floor
in peaceful bliss
awaiting your next phase
not knowing what
or when
it will be
but knowing it will come
sooner than I’d like

how handsome you look
extending on the cool slate
hugging one of your fluffy toys
          duck squirrel alligator
while I
longing to catnap
sit on the steps

I put my head back
facing the ceiling
I can feel
the weight lifted
ever so slightly and
you are awake
raring to go

to the door
quickly outside
in a flash
distractions abound
delaying the inevitable
which comes
when it comes
but never fast enough

back inside
to play and learn
and then for you to sleep
but not me

there is no sweet sleep
for me
for I must be ever alert
for you
for your benefit

and for mine

What do you think? Is James saying I’m the reason he’s losing sleep? I have only one further comment to add about this: where was Ron? Enough said. (Wow! James gave me a special treat that tastes like bacon – yummm! I love James.)

We hope you’re enjoying hearing about my first year and reading the poems James wrote. In two weeks I’ll fill you in on some of the toys I had to play with. I have to admit, I had more toys than I knew what to do with, but they sure helped in more ways than one. Join us then to find out in what ways those were.

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 Offers Remembrance: a Poem Entitled “Ode to Trek”

I mentioned in my last post in a side note how gracious James can be sometimes. Well, I need to begin this week’s dissertation tactfully because it involves a most sensitive issue. It isn’t something I yet understand, so today, and not for the first time, I’m letting James take over my blog. You’ll see why as you read on.

Hi – this is James. I want to thank Sir Oliver of Skygate Farm (Yeah, I know, I can call him Ollie, but for this purpose, I felt a more formal approach was appropriate.) for handing over the reins of his blog to me today. It is a rather delicate topic he and I agreed to discuss at this juncture of his first-year story.

When Ollie arrived at Skygate Farm, we had a delightful, old, Dalmatian – Trek – living with us. We weren’t sure how such an old fellow would take to having a young whippersnapper join our family, but we needn’t have worried. Trek sniffed, licked, and welcomed the new little guy as if he were his own son. Then, like some fathers, he walked away, leaving the child alone. Ollie would have none of it. So long as they were in the same sphere, Trek was like a magnet to Ollie – he wouldn’t leave his side, or under his feet as was often the case.

Our old guy seemed to revert to his childhood. He became much more active and full of himself once Ollie arrived. It seemed as if he had taken on the role of teacher. Ollie has told me that it was the most rewarding part of joining our family – having Trek around. Well, Trek’s revisiting his youth included his going so far as to enjoy being in Ollie’s crate full of toys.

(Ollie sharing his crate and toys with his BFF Trek.)

Unfortunately, it wasn’t to last. Somewhere, someone has written that all good things must pass. I, for one, don’t like thinking about such things. Still, I have to admit that this one, vastly wonderful, thing did pass – and far too soon. Ron and I were told that a Dalmatian’s life span is on average only around nine years. Trek was four days shy of his fourteenth birthday on the day we were forced to say goodbye to our dearly beloved. We were blessed to have had him in our lives for so many years.

(Ron, Trek & James at Popplewood Farm.)

We are even more blessed to have Ollie with us, not only at the time of our lose, but today when we can look back on a wonderful life shared with a wonderful dog. We are once again sharing our joyous lives with a most spectacular dog – Ollie.

Several weeks after we lost Trek, I began a poem about him. It may not mean as much to anyone else, but it still brings tears to my eyes when I read it. Ollie was gracious to allow me to share this poem with you. I hope you enjoy it.

Ode to Trek

you pranced into our lives over a
holiday weekend during snowy degrees
born outside when your mom was let out to pee

you experienced the first night of your life
lonesome and frosty under a star lighted sky
wondrously surviving to come into our lives

you won us over with your solid-black right ear
your white face with one black freckle
and your watery cinnamon eyes were special

you were initially called Journey
but we christened you with the moniker of Trek
to which you came running to our call and beck

you whined during the trip to the city
in a plastic crate borrowed from the breeders
as we raced into town as if we were speeders

the cause of a neighbor’s first night visit
when she got you to sit we were in awe
knowing instantly you were a superstar

you were twelve weeks and potty trained
yet the vet said no walking on the city streets
until you had your final shots at sixteen weeks

you were relegated to the front bathroom
with daily newspapers on the shower floor
causing confusion to abound even more

you were a trooper as we walked to puppy kindergarten
the twenty-six blocks uptown – entertaining to say the least –
so you could cavort with other dogs off leash

you were then enrolled in an obedience class
where you as the prize pupil
suggesting you take the next training level – quadruple

you had limited interest in the agility class
to the treats you could earn – but no matter
for everyone loved you – so says the chatter

you had a signature mark – “Look, a Dalmatian dog!” –
appended by every child in a stroller
as they passed us on the street before it got colder

you were skilled at socializing with other dogs
all a part of your indomitable style
and it made us happy that they made you smile

you’d beam at us as well each time we came home
a wagging tail greeted us at the door
making us wonder how could we ask for more

you loved the people who came to dinner
for they always greeted you with kibble
for the street people all you did was dribble

you would always saunter off to your special place
whenever we sat down to dine with our guests
which left every single one exceedingly impressed

you went off leash each weekend at Prospect Park
after you’d stood by the door as if lined up on deck
and been driven over in a car with license plates 4-TREK

you slipped into the elevator with leash in and out
while with friends we partied at quite an affair
you were hung and knocked out giving us a scare

you were given mouth-to-mouth CPR by an angel
who then cleaned up the elevator mess
while we grabbed a cab and raced to the vets

you survived yet again to tell the tale
and although you were temporarily paralyzed
everywhere you went you were still recognized

you were a foodie so the paralysis didn’t prevent your eating
as away from food you were not known to cower
food put in front of you took no time to devour

you regained your full movement while on holiday in Vermont
and adventured out to discover the neighbor’s horses
and delightful excrement of which they were the sources

you ran free which gave both of us such a scare
as we’d stand there and watch helplessly
while you’d run into the woods in reckless glee

one particular time you ran into the forest
only to return to the back door in a pace
whining from porcupine quills – another death menace

you were rushed to the vets after we tried to remove them
imagining there were perhaps only a dozen more
yet to our horror we learned there were forty still as sores

you were once observed during the month of November
a hunter spied a white and black-spotted fawn one day
running under his blind ever so gay

you could bound freely at the place we found to call home
for at Popplewood Farm we installed an invisible fence
which helped to suspend and end all suspense

you were left behind while we flew west to ski
into canine camp with your friends you stayed
where you were frolicking and making hay

you had blood in your urine we were informed
from kidney stones that were anything but mush
which we were ensured from afar were flushed

you needed a special dog food after this latest fright
devoured as if it were your favorite treat – liverwurst
we could agreed that it wasn’t the worst

you were such a contented companion
while in our home you were always relaxed
yet while outside you were curious and enthusiastic to the max

you welcomed Pip our Old English Sheepdog rescue
who loved you as if you had always been brothers
who would have been with us longer had we had our druthers

you acquiesced to our bringing home Oliver
even though you had reached the ripe old age of thirteen
you yielded to his puppyness and never was mean

you put up with us these fourteen years
for which you should receive a posthumous medal
even though we know it’s part of your breed’s creedal

you constantly shed your fir throughout the house
appearing on everything like tumbleweeds
yet never thought of as a delinquency

you seemed to dislike my brushing you
to try and remove all the lose hairs while outside
yet it was ever so sweet when brushing your backside

you will always be the best friend I ever had
and I’ll miss you terribly till we meet again
on that you can count I will forever yen

you were so independent which was a challenge
yet it is something we will always relish
even if there were times we were jealous

          I wish I could call out to you one more time
          I wish I could be happy that you’d survived again
          I wish we could be back at the park if for only a minute
          I wish I could see you attack your food with gusto once more
          I wish we hadn’t held you back from the joy of running so easily
          I wish to see you pulling ahead – your muzzle sniffing the ground
          I wish I could ensure you would forgive me for the things I did wrong
          I wish
          I wish
          I wish
                          so many things

as I sit in our white Adirondack chairs
daydreaming of how our lives once used to be
I envision you running over the dam cavorting freely

and as I lean forward in my seat
I can still see you so handsome and smart
as I fancy you running straight back into my heart

Well, if that didn’t bring tears to your eyes, then you’re someone who has no feelings. Yeah, it’s me, Ollie, closing out this blog. Wait. I need to blow my nose.

Okay. That’s better.

In two weeks I’ll be back. I’ll let you know how James felt once I was – drum roll please – finally housetrained. I have to laugh, because it still wasn’t easy for him. Sure, I mean, I was only closing in on four months of age – not even. If you know anything about dogs, we need to be taken outside on the hour of our monthly age.

I’ll clue you in during the next post should you still not understand. I don’t think you’ll want to miss it.

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 Fourteenth Week: What Happens in Puppy Purgatory

In my fifth week with James and Ron, when I was three and a half months old, I had so many toys to play with that James started collecting them every hour and putting them in a red, plastic milk carton container. He was obsessed with getting them off the floor. I was obsessed with having them strung all around me. We compromised by keeping the box on its side so I could at least sleep with them.

(Ollie asleep with his head on top of some of his toys.)

It seemed that everything I did was wrong. At least to James’ way of thinking. I can’t tell you how often he went into the other room (Oh, yeah, have I mentioned that I was relegated to the mudroom by a baby gate? Yes, I was.) and made loud noises he tried his best to smother in a pillow. Still, I could hear him, but I didn’t know why he was acting so strange.

Okay. I did know. He was frustrated and tired most of the time. He did his best not to let me see just how irritated and weary he was. Still, I could hear it. Afterwards he would quickly come back in to make sure I hadn’t done my business on the floor. When I hadn’t, he would pick me up and give me all kinds of sweet loving.

James wrote a poem about how he felt like he was in Purgatory. Now, I had no idea where that was, but being stuck in the mudroom was no joy. As such, I figured the mudroom and Purgatory must have a lot in common. Unfortunately, the poem James wrote is not from my perspective, but from his. Still, I think you can read in-between the lines and figure out how I must have felt as well.

Here’s that poem:

                                    PUPPY PURGATORY

My fourteenth week Old English Sheepdog and I have stumbled into puppy hell
            Dante didn’t have a circle for dogs much less puppies
            yet Circle IV with the repetitive boulder pushers is appropriate
                        (we started shoving those sarsens five weeks ago….)

Yes we keep repeating things doomed to failure
            he pees inside no matter how many times I catch him
            while he seems impervious to praise when done outside
                        (even the expensive treats don’t seem to help….)

Meaning well friends and family say “This too will pass”
            that instead of inferno it is transitory
            yet no one can quantify the duration
                        (our lives may expire before this terminates….)

Even so it must then be Purgatory
            which continues until all sins have been washed clean
            or some such nonsense as shampoo doesn’t help
                        (if true, then puppy pee must be a sin….)

Speaking of sins what offences do I have regarding Oliver
            failings of thinking his training should be faster
            peccadilloes of wanting my superior pup to be perfect
                        (I could go on….)

Actually going up at least it appears up we find ourselves in Limbo
            Circle I with Virgil Ovid Homer Horace – not too shabby
            – perhaps there’s fame and fortune in our future
                        (let’s not kid ourselves….)

The ancient Greeks believed there was a purgatory fire
            our type of blaze would be in the belly perhaps – from a
            torch / not quite – to sustain life / warmer – as in a drill / sort of
                        (more like gall – “it burns us up” this irritation….)

The ancient Roman’s believed criminals were sent to Tartarus
            where they were tortured by the Furies
            which is a fire of a subtly different color
                        (but neither of us are criminals at least not yet….)

By the way neither of us is one of the Furies
            who were born of drops of blood from
            Cronus’ castration of his father Uranus
                        (ouch – besides the Furies were “she’s”….)

After Athena pacified their anger the Furies became
            known as the Semnai Theai – honorable goddesses
            feasibly something similar will be achieved from neutering
                        (whoa – it’s way too early to even think about that….)

So we find ourselves in a type of spiritual purgatory
            where our suffering will diminish as
            Oliver’s desire to learn grows
                        (okay, and my training improves….)

As such this Puppy Purgatory what some call a “phase”
            will be measured in solar time with the duration and
            our misery corresponding to repetition and absorption
                        (optimistically not the frequency of cleaning up his pee….)

Deliverance – if it comes / when it comes – is supposedly sweet
            but unfortunately we’re not there yet
            so how delectable can’t be calculated
(chocolate for me is a sufficient substitute for now)

To me, the poem is funny. I mean, what the fuck [Get over yourself with the ‘Oh, my, what kind of dog uses four-letter words?’ I mean, it’s not like I’m still a puppy, and neither are you if you’re reading this. Besides, “fuck” is James’ favorite word. I’ve heard it more than anything else he’s ever said. So, of course I’m going to use it and he’ll, graciously, type it for me.] are Furies and Limbo and Uranus? Of course, what happened to Uranus isn’t so funny. Believe me. I now know, but that’s a story for another day, way in the future.

On that note… we hope you’ve enjoyed this ongoing story and this latest poem. In two weeks I’ll tell you more about my BFF, Trek, who we, well, join us then. You won’t want to miss it.

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 Thirteenth Week: Comfort From a Useful Housetraining Prayer

Have I presented myself as being difficult to housetrain? Well, I wasn’t. Not to my way of thinking. If anyone knows me at all, housetraining me or any other puppy is all about treats. That’s right. Reward me for performing the command, and everybody is happy.

Now, the question is: Have I presented James as having a difficult time housetraining me? Oh, boy, did he ever make it hard on himself. He thought it was going to be a cinch what with his having trained Trek, my BFF, low those many years before. Well, I’m here to tell you there’s a big difference between a twelve-week-old puppy who has come from an attentive breeder (Trek), and a puppy who is nine weeks old coming from a breeder who ignores their puppies having wanted to get rid of them at week five (me, Ollie).

(Ollie’s BBF Trek with the Sir peering alongside.)

Big difference. Well, I have to cut James some slack. Not only was there the three week difference in Trek’s and my age, as well as the breeder issue, but dear, sweet, caring, loveable James was also getting up there in years. You’ve heard the term “old fart.” James was close to being classified in that category.

(Ollie being introduced to a fire hydrant to no avail.)

Truth be told, James bit off more than he could chew. I was a handful, and only getting bigger by the day. I’m a rather smart cookie, so, I have to admit, I did take advantage because, well, it was too easy. What’s a smart fellow like me to do? Yeah, and it wasn’t over yet.

Anyway, James wrote a poem that is a sort of prayer. I think it’s funny, myself, but James, well, bless his heart, he was evidently going through a rough patch.

Without further ado, here is that poem….


God, Yahweh, Mohammad, Higher Power, Energy Force, Ancestors, Emma-O, Susa-no-wo, Yuki-Onne, Nana Buluku, Anat, Ra, Isis, Ixchup, Pikvhahirak, Inti, Ne Te-reere, Saint Francis, Saint Paul, Saint Peter, Saint Sebastian, Saint Christopher (ALL the Saints), Buddha, Dharma, Krishna, Vishnu, Shiva, Ganesh, Zeus, Thor, Apollo, Aphrodite, (pick a name or insert a new one that works for you):

Please grant me:
The patience to understand what I can’t train my puppy to do
The courage to train him in a receptive manner
those things in which he can be trained
And the wisdom to know how damn long it will take

Today the only time James prays is when it’s lottery night. Oh, I wasn’t suppose to tell anyone that. Oops!

We hope you’ve enjoyed this ongoing story and poem/prayer. In two weeks I’ll tell you how James found himself in puppy purgatory, which makes sense if you’ve been reading my blogs. 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

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 www.pawsitivelyloved.com
All photos © James Stack 2017 unless otherwise indicated

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….


            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

            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