Treats or Dog Food? That Is the Revealing Question.

If you’ve been following my blog, you have some sense of how much treats mean to me. You also know that not any old pleasurable chew, but specially flavored ones. My second favorite is bacon, but chicken and fish will do in a pinch. It might surprise you that duck is one of which I’m particularly fond. However, my very favorite, bar none, is liver. Yes, liverwurst sends me into spirals from which it is difficult for me to return.

Now that you know about my overwhelming desire for delicacies, here is something that might surprise you. I’m not a foodie. No “Food, glorious food” for me, even though my name is Oliver. I’m not one of those dogs that go begging when hungry, run when I hear the kibbles being measured, jump up and down when the sustenance is poised above my bowl, or gobble it down like a racehorse, chocking myself in the attempt to devour it before I can even taste it. No, that’s not me.

(Ollie’s dog food being ignored.)

Then again, human food is something of which I’ve had very little. James used to give me baby carrots, slices of apples, mix pumpkin and yogurt in my food, but no longer. Why you might ask? Because they don’t interest me. There was a time when I’d play with a carrot or apple, but I put away childish things as I got older. Okay, so these are not childish things, and, yes, I’m still very much like a puppy even though I’m four human years old – a little over thirty-two in dog years.

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Speaking of human food, I’d absolutely love to get my jaws around some real liver and bacon. It would be like expiring and going over the rainbow to dog heaven where Trek waits for me. I’ve awoken from many a dream where I’m eating one or the other. No matter what I try to do, James will NOT let me have any of the real stuff. [That’s not true – we trained you to “come” with liverwurst.] That was James commenting on my blog. I stand – actually I’m lying down – corrected.

Since James didn’t write a poem about me and food, I let him choose one that had something to do with cuisine. He and Ron went to India many years ago, before I was born. Part of their trip was savoring spicy meals. It may be only a small part of this poem, but after James read it to me, I agreed that he could use it. We hope you enjoy it.


traversing the subcontinent of India
first to Delhi both old and new with a red fort
built from ruddy stone
market stalls splashed with vibrant hues
sweepers and pickers like ants scurrying
          cleansing the city
riches juxtaposed with depredation
guarded compounds besides bric-a-brac slums
          shards of tossed away lives

the fortresses of Rajasthan from Udaipur to Jaipur
visited by day while traveling by train at night
a palace on wheels if you will
one of many highlights meeting the Raj at the Lake Palace
surveying bird sanctuaries and of course the Taj Mahal
          a luxurious burial site

the financial capital of Bombay (Mumbai)
hustling and bustling with the sounds of coins
          the gateway to paradise

once a sleepy town Bangalore hums 24/7
with a technological and commercial explosion
          the new generation leaping into the future

taking a break in Goa on the tranquil Arabian Sea
once Portuguese and then a hippie enclave
          now an opulent seaside resort

flavors one never knew existed beyond curry
with lavish spices added to savor the mouthwatering heat
          finally tasting true Indian food

painting exquisite lines on silk with a fine quill
brilliant colors depicting court life animals and gods
          in miniatures or manuscripts

a wedding in Calcutta with a white horse
floral garlands exchanged and henna applied
          a dot of vermillion powder
populated with colonial structures of a bygone age
tree limbs and vines embracing glassless doors windows
          once having been in England’s shadow

by car journeying into the heartland passing decorated lorries
detecting colorful dots – women in saris – in the fields
          populated by buttery flowers of the mustard plant

meandering freely for each Indian citizen a body of water
known as the Ganges River gives and receives many lives
          as it flows into the Bay of Bengal

a return to Delhi for a respite before departing
cherishing the experience and cheerfulness shared
          one of many places of enlightening delight

Of course, James has never let me try any Indian food. He even made some the other night – Dhaba Chicken Curry and Masala Dhal – while I stood (actually, like I said before, I was lying down) there salivating over the aroma of the spices he added to make the curry. That’s right, he didn’t use a store-bought curry but made one himself. I will say it smelled divine. (After all the nice things I’ve said, you’d think I merited a treat.)

I must admit that it seems interesting to me that James finds delight in traveling, while I find ecstasy in delights. Speaking of treats, I have a few bones and other chewables that are flavored with all of my favorite tastes – all except liver. I never have understood what that is.

Oh, I wasn’t going to tell you, but James said if I didn’t he would in a bracket – that’s how you know it’s him speaking. Okay, so here goes. The night James cooked Indian food, he also served garlic Naan. After heating it in the oven, he lightly buttered it. After putting his plate on the table, He went to get something, and, well, it was too tempting – I snuck a few nibbles of his Naan. Now knowing what I’ve been missing, I’m going to – . [No you aren’t going to steal any more human food off plates – that is not allowed.]

Like I said, James speaks in brackets. Just saying.

Earlier, James mentioned his and Ron’s training me to “come.” If you return in two weeks, I’ll fill you in on how I responded to that particular piece of training. You might find it helpful in teaching your dog to return to you with one simple word.

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

What Helps Ollie to Get in-and-out of the Car?

Like the last two posts I’ve put out there for your reading pleasure, this blog continues discussing one of the things I didn’t get to tell you about my first year. Similar to the last iteration, this one deals with a topic that gives much credit to James. (Score: A treat at the beginning! Keep those delicious delights coming.) It wasn’t included before because he didn’t write a poem about it. (No, I will not give back that treat.)

I’m talking (and James is typing because my paws are too large for the keyboard) about what is called a telescoping pet ramp. That’s right. It’s like a slide but isn’t slippery because the part I walk on is kind of sandpaper. It can get longer or shorter depending upon the height I have to go up and down, ergo, the use of a variation of the word telescope. It’s how I get in the rear of the car ever since I was around six months old. At that point, I was too big to sit in the front seat beside James.

It was initially used for my getting both in and out of the car. I would wait for James or Ron to put it in place so I could walk up or down it. These days I don’t use it to get out of the car – I jump out.

Occasionally I’ll not want to get out of the car, so James will put it in place and plead for me to get out. Still, I don’t leave since I love being in the car.

Now you might be wondering how it came about that I use this ramp. You could have even tried it with your dog, or maybe not. Either way, knowing might be something that will help you in the future with your canine.

Within the first week of my arrival at Skygate Farm, James put the ramp flat on the garage floor. He led me over to it while I was on a leash. Now, if you’ve read about my first year, you know that I was suspicious of new and strange things. Well, when I’d been in the garage before, this rectangular item had not been on the floor. I had no idea if it was going to jump up and nab me, or what.

It was interesting that all James did was have me walk beside it – well, I put him between me and it. The next day, the ramp was back. This time I was curious, so I tentatively went over and sniffed it. It smelled of metal and dirt. Now, I liked dirt at that time, so it was a welcoming odor. The next day, or maybe a few days later, James got me to put a paw on it. Since it didn’t attack me, I put two paws on it before backing away. Slowly, but surely, I began walking on it and jumping off every time James would raise it a little bit higher on one side. As such, by the time I was six months old and made to ride in the rear of the car, I would climb up and down it when asked.

Oh, yeah, something I left out in my explanation. Delicious treats were involved in getting me to even sniff the ramp, much less get on it and begin to jump off. Speaking of treats, here’s one of James’ poems for your reading pleasure:

                                        GREEN MOUNTAINS

                        The stature and steepness of Vermont’s
                  hills and heaps are succulently savored by my
               dogs, Trek and Pip, and me. Having once heaved
             to heights of over a mile, these mature mounts have
           weathered into desirable destinations to play and stay.

           When autumn cleans to its conclusion our world runs
                 russet and gray. Once the climate curls cold we
                       are twirled with creamy, white, feathery
                         powder. The first buds pop, reflecting
                       muted, autumnal colors. As quickly they
                    explode into exciting shades of emerald and
                jade. Completing the cycle the warm tints of fall
             evolve on these knolls. Like my chin, the mountains
          enfold us within their earnest embrace.

                     As the years have receded, like the height I once
             reached, the implements of recreation have worn
                    away, or been put aside for more leisurely
                      strolls. The trails we tramp are like aged
                        wrinkles, providing each prominence
                           with its own, precious personality.

                     While we miss our friends and family far
                 afield, we have grown to honor these historic
              hillocks we call home. There is a comfort known
            only to those, like Trek, Pip and myself, who can sit
           silently for hours in one another’s company, knowing
         without the exchange of words or whimpers that we are
            content, life is good, we’re happy to share what little
                 time we have with each other – and with these
                                           venerable peaks.

            Such are the pleasures of Vermont’s Green Mountains.

You might ask why they use a ramp for me. Well, I’ll tell you. The back of his car is a good three feet off the ground, and I’m a big boy at over eighty pounds. As such, lifting me is not such a good idea since it could possibly hurt their back. Besides, their previous Old English Sheepdog, Pip, hurt his knee ligament when he jumped into the back of James’ car. A few days later, while running, the tendon snapped, and Pip had to have surgery. I hear such an operation and the recovery period are less than pleasant, unlike the Green Mountains of Vermont like in James’ poem.

We certainly don’t want anything like that to happen to me. I’m willing to bet you don’t want anything like that happening to your best friend. So take my advice, follow James’ lead – like I do (most of the time) – and get a ramp for your buddy, expose it to him/her at the get-go, and have a fun time tooling down the highway together.

Speaking of fun times, the pleasures of the Green Mountains has caused me to build up an appetite. Food, glorious food: Come back in two weeks and hear all about my food habits, including, drum roll please, TREATS. I hope to hear from you.

Until then, please scroll down and leave me a comment, letting me know what you think of my blog and James’ poems. I always like to hear from you, so please jot me a quick 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)


“Green Mountains” 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