Can a Sheepdog Desire the Fun of Fetching?

It has never ceased to amaze me how James wants a canine whose heritage is herding to run after a ball he’s tossed and bring it back to him like an obedient Labrador. Now don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against Labs – some are my best friends. In fact, one is the mother of my puppies. (You guessed it – that romance happened during my eleventh month – well within my first year for which this blog is dedicated.)

(Ollie during his first spring after running around with the ball.)

Where was I? Oh, yes – the game of fetch. I have to give it to James. He is a smart man. (Thank you – a nice treat.) It was during my first couple of months of life that James began trying to train me to fetch a ball. Now this ball was one made out of rubber webbing so my teeth could grab it. He started this series of exercises while I was still locked – okay, more like caged, within the mudroom.

First he introduced me to the ball. To me it was yet another toy like the many I had been given. (You can read about all my toys here.) It was a delightful red in color – easy for me to spot. It was, I must mention, only smaller than the size of my head. However, it was light in weight.

While these drills were taking place, my teeth were still coming in. (You can read about my teeth here.) The rubber webbing was soft and felt wonderful against my gums. Yet this ball was not something kept out, but put away after each instruction. That made me want to have it all to myself even more.

Once I was proficient in retrieving the ball, bringing it back, and dropping it at James’ feet, we moved outside. Oh, did I neglect to mention that treats were involved? Well, lots of treats came my way during these repetitive commands. I must say, for a herding dog, I was excellent at fetch.

(Ollie’s famous red ball with its green companion.)

During the winter months, this – may I be excused for calling it a game? – took a backseat to other things we did. Still, James was determined once the spring arrived to get me to bring that gosh darn ball back come Hades or high water. Little did James know that Ron had found the red ball and was playing get the ball away from me. Now that game a shepherding dog can understand.

So, when the songbirds arrived, and I wanted to chase them (see that blog here), James took me and the red ball outside. I could tell he was excited to have a chance to get me to run after the ball, bring it back, and drop it at his feet for a treat. He was bubbling over with anticipation.

Now I knew he had the ball even though he was hiding it from me. Please know that I’m cleverer than I’m sometimes given credit – just sayin’. I was antsy to get that ball between my teeth and run around with it, keeping it from James like I had from Ron. Well, after the first toss and James’ command to fetch, I ran like lightening after that ball. I skidded past it on the grass I was running so hard. Gathering myself back up, I grasped the ball in my mouth and began galloping and bucking around the yard. James didn’t know what had hit him. He kept ordering me to “bring it” when that was the last thing I was going to do. I was having the time of my life. In fact, I’m all but snorting from laughter right now, trying to communicate with James about this so he can type it for me (remember, my paws are too big for the keyboard).

Oh, my sides are aching from all the fun I’m having. Stop, please. I have to catch my breath. While I do that, here’s the poem James wrote about his attempting to teach me fetch. I hope you enjoy it.


the lesson began by our siting side-by-side
watching a five-minute training video
“how to teach your dog to fetch”

when the film completely cycled
we agreed it was a tedious course
as educational exercises usually are

          if you remember
          it began with a reward
          for showing interest in a toy

          if you recall
          said toy was thrown a few feet
          and I said “fetch”

          if you recollect
          once you started to go towards it
          you were rewarded

          if your memory serves you well
          after you went to it
          you were rewarded

          if you recollect
          when you picked it up
          you were rewarded

          if you recall
          I was to say “bring it”
          which is what you were to do

          if you remember
          when you made cues in that direction
          you were rewarded

          if you recall
          when you brought it
          you received a huge reward

          if you recollect
          I was to say “drop it”
          which is what you were to do

if your memory serves you well
when you dropped it
you were royally rewarded

I suggested we take it outside
where you excelled
after a few days’ effort

I found you would quit
after three throws
when you were but sixteen weeks

by the time you were eighteen weeks
I discovered you would stop
after four throws

I recorded that you would rest
after five throws
when you were twenty-two weeks

by the time you were a six-month
Old English Sheepdog I realized I
wanted a break after six throws

when the winter came
the toys you fetched
were used for indoor play

making fetch
with those or any toys
a thing of the distant past

for when spring came
and we frolicked outside
you lost interest in the game

you ran around wanting me
to chase and fight for the toy
instead of you coming and dropping

eventually you returned and
acted as if you’d never release
no matter how hard I pleaded

even treats were of little use
so now we play a variation
I call “fetch and fun”

nowadays after I throw
a new red rubber ball
you run around awhile

ultimately coming to me
dropping to the ground and
releasing the ball to receive a treat

we’ve trained one another
to give in to each other and
enjoy the company we have to offer

I promise to try and remember
this simple life’s lesson
how satisfying compromise can be

I’ve never heard of a game called “fetch and fun,” and I bet neither have you. Regardless, the point I think James wanted to make with this poem was the art of compromise. It was not an easy lesson for me to teach, but James is, sometimes, a fast learner. It only took him that first spring outing to catch on.

The one thing I do wish is that he would have brought the ball inside. I mean, he wouldn’t even let Ron bring it indoors. I suppose that was because I was nearly my full size, and I would be like an elephant gallivanting around with a red ball in my mouth. He knows I will do anything to keep it away from Ron and him.

On the occasions we still play with the ball outside. When we do I have a blast. James no longer yells at me to bring it to him. He does, from time-to-time, ask me to drop it. What does he think I am – stupid? (Oh, that got me laughing again.) Actually, I allow James to get the ball every now and then because he always throws it. I have to admit, it is fun running after it. Maybe I should bring it back to him and drop it so I can run after it again. Nah. Not going to happen.

If you will, let us know what you think about my first year and the poems James wrote 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.

I hope you’ll come back in two weeks and hear about my discovery of ants. While I was growing nearly to my full size, these tiny specs never grew a fraction. Think about that.

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

PS: Please note that James never tried to get me to fetch a tennis ball. For that, I thank him. (Score, a delicious treat!)


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

What is it About Lovely Songbirds That Attracts Ollie?

Spring arrives on the twentieth of March. Soon thereafter the lovely songbirds that fly south for the winter make a delightful appearance. When they arrive in Vermont they are in full color to entice a mate. I know I’m not the mate they are looking to attract, but they are like those refrigerator magnets people put on their frig doors – only they don’t stay in one place. I can’t stop myself from running after them as they try to feed on the sections of the ground where the snow’s melted.

For some reason they always seem to arrive before they should. At least that’s what James says. I don’t get it since there are birds around here all year. Whatever!

(Ollie at ten months giving James the “Whatever” look.)

It makes me laugh when I think some people actually assume I’m trying to herd these flighty birds. Of course I don’t want to drive them around, keeping them in order. The purpose behind all my running and chasing is to catch them. Otherwise I wouldn’t spend any time with them. Oh, okay, James and I do sit in the fields and listen to them during the spring and summer. I do this for his benefit. (I thought that might get me a treat – hummm.)

I’ve actually caught two birds in my short life, but I’m getting ahead of the story James wants me to tell. (Okay, he’s going to let me tell you that I caught two baby birds – one was a bunting and the other a turkey poult. I don’t care if they were babies and couldn’t fly yet. It still counts.) [While this is part of the natural course of nature, it still upset me.] (That was James adding his two cents – just sayin’.)

(Bunting babies by; turkey poult by

Of course, turkeys aren’t songbirds. Still, Benjamin Franklin wanted it to be the United States’ national bird. Or so James told me. Seems kind of silly to me.

Talking about our national bird – the eagle – now that would be something to catch. I’m told its wingspan is longer than my body, and that eagles have talons that could rip a hole into my side. Still, a dog can dream. I have to admit that the ravens offer a poor substitute. Nonetheless, whenever they make their harsh, grating sound or their shrill alarm, it gets my attention and I’m off on the chase.

I’m not sure how bright they are since they often get my attention with their yapping before I even see them. It’s after they’ve taken flight that my fun begins. They start off low to the ground where I at least have a canine’s chance. It’s as if they’re weighted down, waiting for me to gain on them before they begin climbing out of reach. Still, it’s the pursuit that counts. I’m convinced I’ll catch one yet.

Their grating sound pales in comparison to the one the geese make. Now that noise (yes, to my ears it is a dreadful sound) makes my skin crawl. It is the one bird racket that makes me go crazy barking – and I don’t often bark. If I’m in the house, I’ll run from one end to the other and back again. Their squawk is so annoying. If I’m outside, I run around like crazy because I can never find them. James keeps pointing in the wrong direction from where their infuriating hullabaloo is coming. (I know he means well, but sometimes I simply don’t know what he’s up to.)

As for me, I don’t settle down until their clamor fades away. This is the one time James is happy to hear me bark. For you see, we have a pond these geese like to pollute. Working as a team, James and I keep them away from not only the pond, but from the yard as well. There are few things worse than having geese droppings squeeze between the pads on your paws – yuck!

I should change the subject. Here’s the poem James wrote about yours truly and birds. We hope you enjoy it.


spring brings the songbirds
whose beautiful singings
serve as a willing wakeup melody

it’s been some time since
you’ve seen these intriguing specks
as they fly through the sky

if you were a birddog
your interest would be understood
but you’re an Old English Sheepdog

do you think you can herd the birds
as they hop around
feeding on the ground

your gallivanting
in their direction
mostly resembles stalking

is it the speed or thrill of the pursuit
you enjoy
as you gallop head down steely eyed

what would you do
if you were to catch one
a big black crow or magnificent raptor

at the end of your tenth month
I would have thought you’d know better
might think twice before jumping in

yet you are ever ready to
charge forward after slinking towards
your birds of prey

even when leashed you still
focus intently on the dark spots
made by the birds or an overgrown blade

holding you back is a lesson in itself
for if you charged you’d
likely take me with you

I thrill to the sight of you
lunging ever faster when off leash
cheering your running as the birds fly away

when only the other day a turkey outside our door
took flight as you took chase
at the end it was Tom who won that race

upon your return it didn’t seem to matter
to show for your effort
there isn’t even a feather

for you know all too well
life isn’t measured by notches on a belt
or feathers in a cap

but by the joy you’ve delivered

Now that’s so sweet of James to say I bring him joy. Here I’ve always thought the pleasure was mine. Perhaps a treat is in order, no? (YES! I scored. Not that I was begging mind you.)

So you know, the turkey in the poem is not the one I caught. At ten months I wasn’t that much bigger than the Tom when he’s all puffed up while courting. Still, they do offer a thrill when it comes to the sport of trying to catch them.

Nowadays I’m not often on leash. As such, I have free rein to run after any bird or other critter that crosses my path. I especially like going after the chipmunks and squirrels. Those little rodents seem never to be too far from an escape plan, whether it be up a tree, in a hole in the ground, or between the stones in a wall. Still, I like going after them. One of these days I’ll get lucky. Mark my words.

Speaking of words, 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.

Oh, and come back in two weeks to hear about my learning the game of fetch. Of course I’m not a Labrador or spaniel, but James was determined to teach me how to retrieve a ball. Come see how well, or not, I learned this trick.

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


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

To Ollie, What are the Terrible Giants in the Sky?

There are giants in the sky. There are big tall terrible giants in the sky. Or so Stephen Sondheim has informed us in his wonderful musical “Into the Woods” (one of James’ favorites). And so I would have James believe from the way I carry on from noises and bright lights up in the sky.

The continuous drumming sound that grows louder before becoming quieter sends me into a tailspin. Every time I hear the noise I begin to bark in response. It reverberates as if it is surrounding me, coming at me from every direction. Yet there is nothing visible. When I snuggle up to James for assurance, he’s always looking at the sky. I’ve figured out that it is way up high where these giants are making their noise.


Okay, so I was around ten months of age when James decided he needed to memorialize my reaction (he calls it my fear [see earlier post on Ollie’s fear]) to the noise way up high in the sky. James claims the sound is from airplanes. What’s an airplane? It’s interesting, but he keeps pointing at a speck in the sky, but the noise isn’t coming from where the speck is – the noise hasn’t gotten there yet. Now, it’s not that I don’t believe him, it’s just, well, sort of strange, if you get my drift.

Truth be told, I rarely bark. I mean, when I go to the kennel to play, some of the other canines are yapping their gobs off. I don’t get it. They keep yowling for no apparent reason. At least when I bark it’s for a reason. Take that white light that appears nearly every month in the night sky. James calls it the moon. It gets my pup up when it’s what he refers to as full.


That’s right – a full moon is one of the spookiest things in the world. As the daylight begins to fade, and the twilight shows its face, what comes up over the distant mountains but this big terrible giant keeping the dark of night at bay. How something that isn’t the sun can be so bright, I’ll never know. It’s like an overgrown baby sun.

Watching it poke its head over the horizon and begin to climb ever higher in the sky send me into a tizzy. We have these huge windows in what James calls the living room. This enormous globe looks like it’s not going to climb up into the sky, but come crashing into our home. I bark to warn James and Ron to take cover – the glowing goliath is on its way. Luckily, because of my howling, it keeps its distance. Of course, neither James nor Ron thanks me. Just sayin’.

See. Still no treat. What gives? Oh, James wants everyone to cut me some slack for being fearful when I was still a puppy. Now that’s sweet of him, don’t you think? Well, it was sweeter still for him to write a poem about airplanes, full moons, and me. We hope you enjoy reading it.


there’s a noise way up high in the sky
you cock your head towards the sound
there’s nothing to be seen

you know there’s something there
a small metal bird with propeller wings
flying lower easy to spot

yet sound travels slower
than the slight metal bird
so where you look
is not where it hovers
way up high in the sky

the distant light
on a clear night
appears even closer
it is so round and bright

you bark at the noise
from a speck in the sky
you howl at the light
from an orb in the night

do you imagine they hear your call
even though neither has ears

do the droning vibrations
irritate your senses or
are you trying to warn me from
the one-eyed monster in the lessening light

or is it simply something

driving this head movement
this unusual response
begun as fear at ten-weeks

yet now in your tenth month
I would assume
you would grow accustomed
to things like airplanes and full moons

Okay, so this was back when I was but a young whippersnapper. It only goes to show that I’m a normal canine – whatever normal means. Am I still afraid, one might ask? Well, of the unknown, sure. I’ll bark at strange noises and such. Wouldn’t you? My advice: until it is known what is lurking in the dark, or even the light of day, let it know you aren’t afraid of it by yapping your best yap.

I do have to laugh from time to time when out of the blue I let one rip and James screams. It cracks me up that he, too, is easily scared. (I can’t believe he’s admitting this – gosh, he’s so good – YIPPEE!!! Scored a treat – and not just any treat – one flavored with bacon.)

Well, that’s enough about my limited howling. What? Oh, James wanted me to mention that I also yowl at other noises. Come back in two weeks and find out how I feel about birds.

As always, 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,
Sir Oliver of Skygate Farm (you can call me Ollie)


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

The Proven and Startling Influence of Ollie’s Tin Cans.

How does one imagine empty tin cans having an impact? They aren’t very large. In fact, some are quite small. Oh, I suppose if there were an industrial kitchen near by that some oversized cans might materialize. What is it about those cylindrical pieces of metal? Does removing the top make them more powerful?

Let’s start with an opener. There are manual ones and then there are electrical ones. When I first arrived at Skygate Farm, James and Ron were using the physical method to pry open cans. Every so often the manual means wouldn’t work correctly. Watching someone you love become frustrated over such an effort is painful at worse and funny at best. One day an electrical version arrived. This one made a whining noise, but at least it worked every time.

(Requires no explanation.)

After the contents of these metal containers were rinsed, they were put into the recycle bin. Now that is where, to my way of thinking, they should have stayed. But, no! After James dropped one, scaring the holy crap out of me (yes, we dogs can be frightened in that manner), they began appearing out of thin air or strategically placed in shoes and on top of trash baskets. My days of foraging for paper products were over.

Even barking at these items does no good. They don’t appear to care that I’m angry with them. In fact, they don’t appear to care about anything except making clanging noises when they fall on the floor. No matter how many times one of them falls and makes their tinny ringing, they still scare me half out of my wits.

Some might think it cruel to have these tin cans used in such a manner. Well, I happen to agree with you. It is cruel.

(The filthier the shoe the tastier – only watch out for the cans that seem to grow inside.)

Oh, really. James says they’re training tools. One would think that since I’m now in my fourth year of life (yes, I’m only three years old now, but I’m told this is my fourth year of life) that training tools wouldn’t be needed.

Good grief. James now says the cans will remain in certain locations forever. I must admit that when they aren’t in items on the floor or in shoes (please note that the older and dirtier the shoe the better), I do tend to make off with them and give them a thorough chewing. In which case, I suppose James is right in leaving them there. (Wow! A treat. I wasn’t expecting that one.)

I suppose that means it’s time to mention James’ poem about tin cans and yours truly. Here’s it is for your reading pleasure:


by accidently dropping an empty tin can
I discovered a handy training tool
when the clanging caused you
at eight weeks to jump and run

after you returned and saw
what it was made such a racket
you lowered your head and front paws and barked

two weeks later you found a shoe to chew
so within it I placed one of these containers
and you’ve steadily given it a wide berth

at week thirteen you observed
the draperies waving in the wind
thinking it would be great fun
to thrash them about with your mouth
until a quickly tossed rattle
fell mysteriously from the sky and
since then it’s curtains for drapes

as you have grown in stature
able to reach up and into wastepaper baskets
a handy vessel
sitting nonchalantly on the edge
deters any and all thoughts
you might have entertained

as you start getting taller
still in your ninth month
the sight of one of these noise makers
is enough to keep you from putting
your paws on the kitchen counters
or stealing a food item from above

when guests come over
they have an odd question
they can’t help but ask
why I have so many tins decorating my house

I politely tell them
as I glance in your direction
they help me make it calmly through the day
and sleep peacefully at night

Speaking of sleeping peacefully, I do that quite often. Except when James or Ron toss and turn in the bed while I’m trying to sleep. There are nights neither of them get any shuteye. That’s when we’re up for hours. Well, I do lounge on the carpet, rug, or floor while they hang about the house during the wee hours of the night.

One of the things I particularly like about this poem of James’ is how he speaks of me over time. Not that I’m partial to what was happening to me, but I like seeing my progression from little to bigger. I still wasn’t fully grown when he wrote this. Being close to [tk] months, I had more height and weight to add.

Discovering that I could reach into wastepaper baskets, well, that was discouraging. Think about it. I took so much pleasure in finally getting my head into a place with such exotic smells only to have it dashed in an instant.

It might appear as if I’m a wussy. (On, no! James is not at all pleased that I used that word. Thank goodness looks can’t hurt other than egos – and mine is sunk. But how else do I know about that word unless I heard it in my own house?) [He must have heard it at the kennel – that’s the only excuse of which I can think.] (That last part came from James himself.)

Where was I? Oh, yes. It might look like I’m a scaredy cat. Truth be told, I have been afraid of things during my short life. I discussed the fact here. Tin cans have proven to be one of the things of which I’m afraid. Just sayin’.

Speaking of sayings, come back in two weeks and find out what airplanes and full moons have in common. Never thought they were similar before? Well, there is a connection, and I’ll tell you about it. But you have to visit with me again.

I like it when you stop by to read my blog. I especially like it when you let me know what you think of it and the poems James writes. 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: I noticed there’s no picture of me this time, so I’ve added one here. I hope you like it.

(Ollie during his ninth month enjoying the snow.)


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

Ollie Is Obsessed With Leaves: Finding Joy in the Little Things

Yeah, so we’re in winter and I’m going to talk about my obsession with leaves. What gives? Well, it’s all because I was nine months old when James finally sat down to write a poem about leaves and me. It’ll be clear once you read the poem.

Suffice it to say that obsession is not nearly a strong enough word for how I took to leaves as a growing puppy. During the autumn months as they fell from the trees, it was all I could do to restrain myself from going after them long enough to do my business. Quite a few times I’d be going after the leaves, leaving a moist trail behind me. (I don’t know why James is laughing at this. Oh, sweet, a treat!)

Let me say that some people think canines are color blind. I’m here to let you know we see colors. The leaves in Vermont during the fall exist in vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow. If you’ve never been here for “leaf peeping,” you have missed a wonderful experience. And I’m not simply saying this because I’m manic about these particular leaves. You’d have to see for yourself.

(Ollie’s playground full of colorful leaves.)

During the fall season, I’ll bound out of the house and run to where the leaves have fallen. If there’s no wind, I all but freak out since they aren’t moving. However, when it’s windy, I’m giddy with excitement. They grab my attention as soon as I’m out the door. I race after them, trying desperately to catch as many of them as I can. Oh, it’s heavenly.

When I catch them, I shake my head from side-to-side with the leaves stuck between my teeth. Then more leaves being blown by the wind will divert my attention, and I sprint after them. Stopping as many as I can with my paws, I continue to race after yet more as they skip and hop down the road and across the yard. It’s all I can do to dash from one leaf to another. At times it can be overwhelming.

Of course James simply strolls along watching me. His face does shine during these outings. He evidently enjoys my hounding after the leaves as much as I do. He’s even been known to take videos of me pursuing my target. If you’d like to see a video, let us know, and he’ll send one to you.

The only downside to my passion is that it seems to be over almost as soon as it begins. That’s because even when the wind hasn’t blown all of them away, the snow comes and buries them. That is until they find a way to escape during the middle of winter. Now that’s when it is even more exciting to gallop after them because the snow and ice is so much fun to play in along with the leaves. Sliding on the ice with a leaf under a paw and one in my mouth is the height of exhilaration. Believe me you.

These winter leaves are fragile things. They tend to fall apart easily. Mostly they are like ghosts of the autumn variety. I can see through some of them, with only a thin fiber for a leaf supported by exposed veins. Still, they are joy to behold after having missed them for so long.

But we no longer need to miss reading the poem James wrote about leaves and me. Here it is. We hope you enjoy it.


fascination fluttering
as they drop from skies
quiver flicker flittering
right before your eyes

what is this thing
causing an itch
making your bean
swivel and twitch

this way they swerve
around in the air
that way they curve
with nary a care

with a mind like a mill
you investigate to find
they’ve stopped perfectly still
like a lead weight fishing line

suddenly they shudder and rise
in the breeze they veer
you high-step hoping for a prize
like a white-tail deer

catching one with your mouth
another with your paw
you tilt your head towards the south
for there an abundance you saw

rushing after them in a trot
they gust around not to be grounded
moving in tandem and then not
it causes you to be astounded

starting stopping hither and yonder
it is confusing to say the least
so you lie down and ponder
what you’ll make of such a feast

abruptly there’s a stirring
as a commotion begins beside
there seems to be one moving
perhaps the commencement of a tide

sure enough there’s motion
made by yet another one
hastily a propulsion
well now your fun’s begun

a third and fourth and fifth
with a sixth pick up steam
as you try for the next forthwith
yet get distracted by the team

eight nine ten and twelve
fifteen nineteen twenty-three
towards which you delve
seeming to reach ecstasy

swirling and swirling
around as they goad
into the fielding
that’s recently mowed

then over the drive
and stopped by the trees
falling amongst you strive
to satisfy your needs

how many did you snatch
in your desire to stop them all
before they found the escape hatch
being frazzled you fall

your enjoyment reaches new heights
when encircled with various pieces
bare branches and shrubs bring delights
as if you’d applied psychokinesis

for weeks you attempt to make them mind
from racing away in such a mess
the autumn winds begin to unwind
conveying a stretch for a recess

the snows entomb the shoots
other things snag your interest
for four months as if in cahoots
you leave the leaves at rest

and then you see a skeletal dross
out of the corner of you eye
skipping and dancing quickly across
the twilight season’s hard-packed ice

a leaf that’s so melancholy
having hung on all this time
and it’s calling out to Ollie
“come and catch me for I’m thine”

bound away after on the run
slipping and sliding from ample vigor
you hear a new invitation
during this time of year who could figure

the spirited leaves have returned
within the depths of winter
patiently they waited and earned
this moment in time to stir

as always you are game
at nine months still a playful puppy
to you it’s all the same
simply a bit goofy and nutty 

a bright light crosses my face
happy to see you having so much fun
and exercise from a chase
having been indoors unable to run

you have excess energy to be burned
and dashing after leaves
it is perfectly natural and earned
watch out for the frost heaves

run hard efficient and fast
my adorable pup Ollie
never give up till the last
even if it is a folly

you’ll have victory in the end
that I will guarantee
for surely there’ll be treats to lend
when you run back to me

There are always treats for me. James is the most generous person I know. (Score! A treat.) Well, now that I’ve had my treat, I must add that Ron ties with James when it comes to generosity. (WOW! Another treat. I didn’t see that one coming.) Oh, and I always run back to James. [Almost always….]

Okay, so that last comment was from James. True. When the heady leaves take me away, it’s nearly impossible for me to go James’ way. I mean, think about it. I’ve mentioned before that wood is like an opiate for me. And where do leaves come from? Right. They grow on trees that are made of wood. Now you know the connection. Just sayin’.

Speaking of saying, 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.

Oh, and come back in two weeks to find out the secret behind tin cans. Yes, you read that right. There is a secret.

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


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

Ollie’s Bathroom Secret: Urgent Needs for One and Two?

This is a story about love. I mean, one has to love someone to spend time with them in the bathroom – don’t you agree? Think about it. The things one does in the privacy – or not – of the room where a shower, sink, and toilet are should remain private. As such, I won’t be divulging any details here. (BTW: It took me the longest time to understand what a toilet is. Think about it. I mean, I never use one. Just sayin’.)

Oh, are those sighs of thanks I’m hearing? What happens in the bathroom stays in the bathroom. Think of it as Las Vegas. (Someone, please tell me what Las Vegas is. James is the one who told me to say that, and I have no idea what that means. Oh, okay. He kind of told me, but it seems like a strange place. I’ll leave it where it lies, so to speak – pun intended. Score! A treat. Of course, I’m not sure why….)

(A groomed Ollie out for a stroll to do his bathroom business.)

Like I said, this is all about love. Being James’ shadow takes an enormous amount of work. Trying to keep up with him after I’ve been snoozing on the carpet can present its own set of problems. Think about how it feels to wake up suddenly and you are on the move without any type of aid – like caffeine: coffee, tea, or soda (your choice). Yeah, that’s what it’s like.

Still, love is why I do it. James means more to me than anything else. (Score! Another treat.) Okay, now that I’ve been rewarded, here is the truth. There are some things that mean, well, maybe not more to me, but they mean nearly the same. (No, I will not throw up the treat – stop – I won’t.)

(One of Ollie’s favorite places.)

Okay, did James really need to show you his bathroom? I mean, sure, he and I and Ron spend time in there, and it is clean, but honestly, was that necessary? So, you might ask, who am I to gripe like this. You know what? You’re right. After all, I’m the one who goes in there and snuggles up to be rubbed. I don’t like the shower or tub, and I don’t do anything in the sink or toilet, so who am I to complain? After all, I’m only in there because I want to be with James. Why do I want to be with him like that? Because I love him. (Score! Score! Score! Trifecta. And I wasn’t even trying, simply stating the truth.)

Which leads me to ask: are James’ poems a trifecta? I love them like I love him, so I think so. After all, they’re about me. So, of course I’d think they’re special. I hope you like them as much as I do.

Oh, and here’s one about bathrooms. It’s okay if you skim it first to make sure there is nothing stinky within it. Good luck….


you follow me everywhere I go
as if I needed another shadow
my still growing eight-month
Old English Sheepdog Ollie

I’ve informed you it’s truly a pleasure
to always have you beside me
whether walking sitting or lying down

but there comes a time
when I’d rather you weren’t
yet upon closing the door
you whine such to break my heart

your complaining doesn’t stop
as my heart races out to comfort and
demands I remove the partition

now I’m never able to go alone
for even when I bathe
you lie beside the shower door

I ask myself why you
always want to be with me
during such private moments

when a bluebird tweets
outside the open window
          perhaps it’s because you’re always
          with Ollie when he goes

yet the answer I hear
you silently reply is simple
          I have so much love to give you

as the sound of flushing fills the air
I follow your lead out of the bathroom
admitting it’s a little of one and a lot of the other

I’ve never understood what James means by a little of one and a lot of the other. Is he talking about his pee and p…. [A gag order has been put in place. Please excuse Ollie’s language as it is totally unnecessary. Thank you.]

So now that I’ve been allowed out of “quiet time,” let me tell you that the “lot” has to do with the amount of love James has for me – at least that is what he told me. I’m still not sure it doesn’t also mean something else, but that is for others to decide.

As I said earlier, love is everything. Without it, there’s nothing. My advice is to embrace those who follow you into the bathroom because they are willing to suffer – the flings and arrows of outrageous misfortune. (Those are James’ strange words, not mine, just sayin’.) As to my opinion, I’d follow James anywhere, regardless of arrows and flings, whatever they are.

Come to think of it, I experienced a flashback the other day while we were outside. It wasn’t a drug induced flash, but a memory flash. I never told you about the leaves that fell this past autumn, and, speaking of love, how much I love to chase them. Well, stick around and in two weeks I’ll fill you in.

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
All photos © James Stack 2018 unless otherwise indicated

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
All photos © James Stack 2017 unless otherwise indicated