How Excursions to the Vet Turned Out to Be Fun for Ollie.

I have only a vague recollection of the first time I went to the Veterinarian’s office. It happened when I only a couple of weeks old. My nine brothers and sisters and I were put in a box and shuffled off in a car. Suffocating is all I remember.

Once I was at Skygate Farm with James and Ron, we started going for rides in James’ car, something I enjoyed immensely since I was the only one in the front passenger seat with plenty of air to breath. Not having to be nearly smothered in a box was liberating. I had no idea where we were, but James pulled off the road and parked. Unbeknownst to me, this was my second trip to a Vet.

Taking me in his arms, which I loved more than anything when I was barely two months old, we went inside a building. James put the leash on me, which I had yet to understand. Still, there were people and, this is what made me excited, other dogs inside! The people ooh’d and aah’d over me, and the other canines and I sniffed one another while wagging out tales – well, I wagged my nob.

(Ollie and James after a visit to the Vet – all smiles.)

Suddenly there was a treat being offered to me. It smelled, what I came to learn, like bacon. Oh, boy! All the people were so nice, and most of the dogs were pleasant, some even eager to play.

The very next week James took me back. There were no other dogs visible in the room where we went, but their smell was present. So was the smell of the treat made from bacon. Not only was it present, but I got two more of them simply for having shown up. Then, after the man in the white smock looked we over from head to nob – like I said, I don’t have a tail – I got two more bacon-flavored delights.

Stack, Oliver
(Ollie sitting on the reception desk at the Vet.)

We made a trip to the Vet’s office every week for the next two months. It seemed that all I had to do was show up and they would give me a treat. James said he didn’t want me to be afraid of the going to see the Veterinarian. As such, he made it a joyful experience. To me, it will always be a thrilling practice even though some less-than-exciting things have happened to me there, if you know what I mean.

Speaking of meanings, James never wrote a poem about our trips to the Vet. I wonder why? [I didn’t think it was important until now, when you asked me to type this particular blog for you.] (That was James answering my gratuitous question.) [That was Ollie rolling his eyes.] Anyway, here’s a poem James did write about something entirely different – Maple tree seeds.


my primary genus is Acer
it’s the Latin for my plant classification
which is typically used for edification
maple is the name that’s commoner

there are over a hundred of our kind
sugar is the one most cheer up
during mid to late winter is the time
to collect sap and make syrup

come autumn the hillsides we beautify
with colors red orange and yellow
picture taking tourists in cars drive by
the longer nights are to what we owe

fall is also the time of year
fliers flappers floaters appear
we are the helicopter seeds
being shed by the maple trees

try and catch us if you can
as we find our way round

spinning we land aground
for we have a secret plan

for chipmunks squirrels birds and mice
we serve as forage and feed
if we survive winters’ snow and ice
our coating will shed our seed

the kernels stir from slumber awaken
germination provides a single root
the beginning of life is breathtaking
tunneling in the soil so resolute

above the ground appears a trunk
upon which two nodules the seed is known to split
throwing off its veneer like junk
exposes the cotyledon the seed-leaf bit

all of our leaves are known as palmate
and have five points with smooth margins
filled with chlorophyll to activate
photosynthesis to feed the tree’s organs

we all first learn to crawl
and then to stand up tall
and begin our education
for our maturation

upon graduation we become trustworthy
to carry on our legacy
by emitting two-wings two-seeds we deliver
like a U-shaped helicopter

which brings me full circle to Acer
and the syrup from sugar maple stands
like life’s cycle there’s nothing greater
mine takes place within the woodlands

I have to laugh. While reading this poem – well, while James read it aloud to me – I could see how these seeds might be mistaken for delicious delights. They never have interested me in that way since they don’t have an appetizing odor about them, unlike the animals mentioned in the poem.

With that said, because James took me to the Vet every week when I was little, and I got a treat for going, I now find the thought, the trip, and the visit to be an exceptionally wonderful experience. I know. I know. Sometimes I get pricked with a needle. That’s okay considering the delightful things – not maple seeds – I get to eat when I’m there.

(A sugar maple “helicopter” seed and alphabet treats.)

James told me that when he was little the doctor he would visit would give him a candy sucker at the end of the visit. It made going to the medical man reasonable. That is except when they did something that hurt, usually when he was groggy, and there was no candy at the end of the visit. (I wouldn’t like that either.)

Something you will like is my blog post in two weeks. Come back and find how I found my way into the “way back” of the car. I think you’ll find it interesting.

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

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


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

Amazing Delights from Year One – Harvests & Thanksgiving.

So, we’ve reached the second year of my life. Where to begin? I suppose I should start at the beginning like I did with my first year. However, there were numerous things I didn’t get to tell you about that first year. So, I think I’ll get some of those off my hairy chest. (Yeah, I have hair on my chest.)

Here goes with the initial one. I want to report that we went to Hilton Head Island for Thanksgiving that first year. We drove from Vermont to South Carolina in James’ car. He bought a special crate that fit in the back. They stuck me in that crate the entire drive. Of course, I didn’t mind – not really. So long as I didn’t have to do any of the driving, I was chill.

The condo James and Ron rented advertised a fenced-in yard where they wanted to put me so I could do my business. Well, when we arrived, the area of this sorry excuse for a yard was only slightly larger than my crate. As such, James and Ron took me for walks.

During the first four days, these walks were in the rain. That’s right. It rained Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Now, this wasn’t just any rain. It poured. I looked like a wet dishrag every time we came back. James and Ron were protected by an umbrella.

Oh, yeah, I was six months old at the time. Little did James know I could definitely make it through the night. But noooooo. James woke me up every morning after only six hours of sleep so we could, yet again, go out into the rain.

The best part of the trip, other than when it quit drizzling, was that Jackie came down and stayed with us. She was at Skygate Farm the very first day I arrived, and I hadn’t seen her since. It was such a joyous treat. (What could James be thinking? He has yet to give me a treat. I’ll think of something.)

The next best part of the trip was on Thanksgiving Day when we went for a walk on the beach. It was my first time frolicking in the sand and saltwater. Oh, and other canines were hanging out on the beach with whom I got to play.


(L2R: Ron, Ollie, and James posing on the beach at Hilton Head, South Carolina.)


We had our Thanksgiving meal at a friend of Jackie’s whose name is also Jackie. She has a lovely condo much closer to the beach than the one James and Ron rented. Of course, they had to lease one that was “dog-friendly.” The second Jackie was incredibly kind to invite me along for the day.


(L2R: New Jackie, Ollie, and Jackie kneeling in front of the Thanksgiving spread.)


Looking at all that food reminded me of one of James’ poems. He wrote it as a request from Mimi Neff to read at the Old Parish Church in Weston, Vermont. In it he discusses the abundance of food Vermonters harvest at the end of the growing season. I hope you enjoy reading it.


           My dog, Trek, sits patiently watching me as
                                    I scurry about,
                        ensuring that the seedlings
                           are safe from a late frost
                 as the planting time of year unfolds.

                    I plow the vegetable patch with a
   neighbor’s tiller, borrowed after a casual exchange
           where one is mentioned as being needed.

                It’s with the assistance of neighbors
                               and acquaintances
                                    that gardens,
                             both edible and not,
                                   are sustained.

       There are times these same people spot me
             in the plot and stop to chew the fat.
           Soon they are beside me weeding and
                        admiring, like the bees,
    the flowers that each plant displays which will
               provide the desired nourishment.

          All summer we chat about the progress,
              anticipating the precise moment to
pick and pluck; for the Vermont harvest suddenly
        arrives with an overabundance of wealth
                      such that we are all sated,
                              for a little while.

       Beginning with the prepping for planting
                        through to the harvest
                       we are aided by others.
                           These same people
               share in each successive bounty.

                       The getting of help and
                         the giving of produce
        also harvests friendships along the way.
                                Friends who,
                  while not put up or canned,
                       remain fresh and true.

   Such are the pleasures of a Vermont harvest.

James wrote that poem while he was living at Popplewood Farm with Ron and their best friend Trek – my BFF when I first arrived on the scene. I love how James included Trek in the poem. (Finally, a treat, and I wasn’t even trying for one.) This poem is included in James’ book of poems entitled Pleasures & Seasons of Vermont.

Speaking of pleasures, all this harvesting reminded me of something else that I’d like to tell you about that took place during my first year. Come back in two weeks and find out how I grew fond of visiting the vet. You read that correctly. Hopefully, it piqued your interest.

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

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


“Harvest” printed with permission, originally published in Pleasures & Season of Vermont, © James Stack 2013
Paw Prints courtesy of
All photos © James Stack 2018 unless otherwise indicated