Ollie’s Impressions: Love Imprinted on a Heart

Where does one start when writing about the impressions we leave on one another’s lives? From the very first moment I saw James and Ron, I had no idea that I was leaving my paw prints on both their hearts. Granted, they were rather small paws at the time, but they have grown ever since.

The first impression I made was when my breeder sent a picture of me at only a few days old. James thought he still had that email with the attachments, but he can’t find it. If someone knows how to help James find emails that are over two years old and, hopefully, in the cloud, he would be eternally grateful.

The next impression I made was when James and Ron came to Youngstown to see me up close and in person. I’ve been told that this visit sealed the deal, so to speak. There was no way they were going to drive away from the breeder’s house and not see me again. They were smitten. Truth be told, so was I. (A treat scored for telling the truth – I love James – another treat – I’m on a roll.)

(James & Ron holding Ollie in Youngstown, Ohio)

It was a long four weeks before I saw them again. When I did, I was so shy, but James and Ron didn’t care. They knew they would bring me out of my shell, and they have. Every moment of each hour during all the days I’ve been with them, our love has expanded without our even knowing it. The small things, the seemingly inconsequential actions, totally have an impact.

(Ollie relaxing at Skygate Farm.)

Once I felt more confidant being with them, I would bound out of my crate (yes, crate training is actually good, but that’s for another blog much later this year or early next year) and run into James’ waiting arms, where he would scoop me up and take me immediately outside while I was smothering him with kisses. It was during one of those outings that James decided to write the poem I’m sharing with you this time.

The ground in Vermont, during the spring, summer and fall mornings, is often covered with dew. I had no idea what dew was, so James told me that when the ground cools, radiating its heat, moisture forms at a rate faster than it can evaporate, causing water droplets to gather on the cooling ground. Now as an Old English Sheepdog, I have long hair. This hair on my paws makes them look larger than are, especially when I was only nine weeks old. The result is that I left impressions of where I had been.

These imprints left a trail of where both of us had been. This, in turn, caused James to think about writing this poem. It reminded him of how much he loves me and I love him (Score – more treats!), so he wrote the following:


the sunrise has yet to materialize over the distant hills
yet the morning luminescence displays a thin airborne mist
acting as a scrim on the dawn

behold this fog in the valley
like a milky lake dotted by islands
providing soft creamy carpeting
on which the sun will exhibit its quintessence

this dew weighs on the wheat field
as you bound into the meadow
wrapping yourself with moisture
leaving behind a weaving trail of paw prints
as we go about our first stroll of the day

being pulled onto the wet grass by a short training leash
imparting a straight line heading confidently forward
I continue to trail a row of imprints when returning to the pavement

at nine weeks of age your life is beginning
and will have numerous launches & pauses
and backtracks & repeats
and hesitations & plunging forward

at my age I’m mostly slowing down
and while deferred for the moment
will be stopping
having already made multiple curves and rotations in course

there will be many opportunities
when you crisscross your own impressions
learning from prior actions
seeking to correct earlier errors

although my prospects are now limited
I rejoice in knowing we have this time together
and you have paw prints yet to effect

This has all been about the impressions I have left on James and Ron’s hearts. However, I want it to be known that they have also left impressions on my heart by enveloping it and keeping it beating. In this manner we have let each other know how much we love one another. (Treats galore – I score!) Well, at least as long as I’m with them.

What? James says the impression will be there forever. How I do love him. Yes, and he loves me. We have tons of love to go around. (And James has an abundance of treats he gives me because he loves me so very much.)

We hope you’ve liked this story and poem. In two weeks I’ll tell you about how fearful I was as a puppy. We hope you’ll stay tuned and read it and the others to follow.

Also, please let us know what you think 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 Arrival: Love Found at Skygate Farm.

Please allow me to introduce myself. I’m a dog of – well, I wish – wealth and fame. Okay. Okay. Life is short and sweet – well, shorter for us dogs – so, I want to tell you about my first wonderful year. Sure, it had its trying moments. But all-in-all it was a dream come true.

Shall we start at the beginning? Why not?

Did I say it was a dream? Well, not exactly at the beginning. I was born in Youngstown, Ohio – the rustiest part of the rust belt. I’m told it was a stormy night, but since neither my eyes nor ears were yet open, I have no way to verify this. It does make for an interesting beginning. Let’s hope there are no alternative facts.

My breeder is a woman who has three daughters (maybe four – or is it only two). Anyway, her job is breeding my mom and selling us. That’s how she makes her living in a town that has seen better days.

My Dam – yes, that’s what the AKC calls breeding female dogs – is short and squatty. She’s bred every six months when she goes in heat – or some call it season – your choice. Her name is Princess Baby Girl. My Sire – yes that’s what the AKC calls an intact male for breeding – is a tall, handsome goofy guy. His name is Sir Shaggy Goofball.

Mom was kept inside while dad was kept in a fenced-in yard behind the house. He shared it with the breeder’s boyfriend’s Doberman Pinscher (DP). The DP was used as a guard dog. He barked incessantly, scaring me to the point that I never wanted to be anywhere near him. However, as I got older, around six weeks, I ended up in the fenced-in yard with him daily.

(Ollie at five weeks of age in Youngstown, Ohio.)

When I was five weeks old, James and Ron came to visit me for the first time. I wasn’t sure what to make of them. I mean, they seemed nice and all, picking me up and smothering me with kisses; but I didn’t want to leave my mom or dad or sisters and brothers. I then overheard James and the breeder speaking about how she wanted him to take me and he wanted me to stay with my family until I was at least nine weeks old.

The breeder said she had already “gotten rid” – her words – of one five-week-old puppy. I looked around and noticed that a sister was missing. When you’re one of nine running around and struggling for a tit and then kibble, you don’t always notice if one of your siblings is absent. Anyway, James told the breeder that it was healthier for me to stay with my family and learn from Mom how to care for myself and from my siblings how to interact with other dogs – something about a hierarchy.

Well, I have to say that even though I didn’t want to leave, within a few days I was beginning to wish James and Ron had taken me. It seemed like a day didn’t go by that one of my siblings vanished. I was also kept from Mom all the time. And then, as I mentioned earlier, I was relegated to the fenced-in area with Dad and the DP. I was even fed outside and ended up losing my meal to the mean DP – to be completely transparent, sometimes to Dad as well. I’m not proud of this, but I began eating dirt and my poop. I had to eat something. You find yourself in Siberia as the weakest link and tell me you don’t do some strange things. This lasted for four weeks, nearly half of my then lifetime.

When the day came that I was the only puppy left, I began to think no one wanted me. I silently watched through tears as people would ask about me, but none of them took me. I was devastated. I prayed each night for James and Ron to come back. Each morning, for no reason, I’d get popped on the head by one of the breeder’s daughters. To protect myself I would cower in a corner of the fence.

Out of nowhere, the Breeder grabbed me and put me in prison. She had a cage with bars on the front and smaller bars on the top of the sides. I freaked out. The cage, with me in it, was then thrown into the back of her car. I’d been in the car a couple of times, when we went to the vet, but never in a cage with bars. I sat in the cage for what seemed like an eternity before she and her mother got in the front seat. I gleamed from their conversation that they were driving to Vermont where James and Ron live. My spirits lifted, hoping I hadn’t misunderstood what they had said.

Of course I had worms and diarrhea from having eaten dirt and poop. I was given drops through a syringe for the worms and one pill a day for diarrhea. The good news: I was no longer cramping or pooping every five minutes. The bad news: they went for long stretches before stopping the car to let me go pee when I whined.

The last time I whined they refused to stop the car. I had held my pee for at least five, maybe six, hours on the morning of the second day of our trip. The breeder yelled at me to stop whining. I had no choice. I relaxed and let it flow. Wouldn’t you know, something like ten or fifteen minutes later we arrived at Skygate Farm where James and Ron – and now I – live.

(Ollie on the day of his arrival at nine weeks of age.)

I was so embarrassed because I had wet myself. The breeder told James she thought that I might have since I had been whining. She said that they were so close she didn’t see the need to pull over until after I had stopped whining. James reached in to pull me out of the prison, and I tried to prevent him from getting hold of me and finding me all wet. Wouldn’t you know it, James didn’t care. He pulled me out and held me in his arms, getting my pee all over his shirt front and sleeve.

James kissed and kissed and kissed me, rubbing his nose against my face. He took me straight away to a sink they have in their garage and washed my backside and underside. He used warm water and spoke lovingly to me the entire time. After drying me, he put me on the ground so I could explore my new surroundings.

(Photo by Judy Mir.)

Within a second someone else had picked me up and was kissing me – it was Ron. I felt so much love from my two, new daddies that I was in tears of joy. The breeder thought it was because she was leaving me, but I have to admit that as she drove away I never looked in her direction. I couldn’t believe my good fortune to be placed with James and Ron, on a three hundred twenty-four-acre farm in Vermont. If only all my siblings could have come here with me. I had never been happier in my short, nine-week-old life.

Here is the poem James wrote about that day. He and I both (and Ron too) hope you enjoy it.


on an exquisitely sunny afternoon
anticipation reined
with us anxiously awaiting your entrance
in the month of July

we both agreed that we were
about to wet our pants
with your coupé approaching
on the circular drive

something we were told you might have done
as you were antsy
since ten minutes earlier you’d been
whining with all your might

reaching for you at the opening
you timidly advanced
yet soon you were dispensing moist licks
and a few prickly bites

woefully dank from elimination
we washed it away
in a warm water sink where at twelve pounds
you were very light

you looked longingly at us through
your delicate china-blue eyes
once your dignity was back intact
with your silky hair fluffed black-and-white

settling into our soothing rhythm
and heartfelt embraces
you grazed on kibble in-between frolics
of amazing delight

medicine for an upset eight-week-old tummy
from beef jerky
before leaving the prior handlers did ascribe
they would provide

and a preventative for worms
dispensed via plastic capped syringe
luckily there were no squiggly
slimy cylindrical parasites

being cuddled with affection
from two who found you a joy
as deliverers drove away
you forgot to say goodbye

everywhere you turned
you discovered new sounds and sights
even a blond stone
gave you somewhat of a fresh fright

both old and new parents
with a special collar and leading leash
discovered unneeded
all you wanted was to be by our sides

looking to us for guidance
we encouraged you to investigate
and not to be afraid but
in life’s adventures to participate

a squeaky new grey squirrel plush toy
that was nearly your size
once grasped in your mouth if removed
you were hard to placate

wiggling up to and licking around
his flews and his muzzle
it was your new elderly brother Trek
to whom you could relate

once inside we introduced you
to the mudroom
where we provided a plaid bed
and your new crate

what joy and happiness
you brought to our family that day
one of us was with you
in case you needed to defecate

like the wildlife in the woods
settling down after sunset
those of us indoors relaxed
from the excitement of the date

your having traveled from Ohio
in a small enclosure
we thought it would be more of a breeze
the first night in a crate

you moaned and cried with
broken hearts all around
as we were concerned
and worried and awake

no one slept that initial evening
after your arrival
we could only hope you were happy
behind the mudroom gate

at least as happy as we
that you were here
as our too copious tears
would demonstrate

Sir Oliver of Skygate Farm
your AKC registered name
Ollie is the nickname we’ll use
with love you are our life-long mate

We hope you’ve liked this story and poem about the beginning of my life and arrival at Skygate Farm. In two weeks, and every two weeks for possibly the rest of 2017, there’ll be another story about my life and the things I encounter. We hope you’ll stay tuned and read each one.

Also, please let us know what you think 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