The Good, Bad, and Ugly Truth About Dog Kennels.

Should you not have taken notice of my interest in both humans and other canines, let me make it perfectly clear that I love both, especially the female of either species. It should be further noted that I’ll ignore people when other dogs are around. Why – you might ask? Because other dogs will play with me while folks who visit only want to say, “Hi,” and then for me to leave them alone. What fun is that?


Version 2
(Ollie dearly loves playing with other dogs.)


As such, James and Ron leave me in a kennel when they go on holiday or travel for business. I’ve begged them to do this. Otherwise, I’ll be deprived of the joy I receive from playing with other pooches. James particularly resents leaving me there, but he’s a good Daddy and does as I request. In truth, it is the only thing for which I plead. As you might remember, I never solicit food.

I’ve spent time at several kennels in the past four and a quarter years. The first one was my favorite, the second one was where I got sick each time I stayed there, the third was where I experienced an unpleasant occurrence, and the fourth is where I’ve gone for the last two years, although it’s not perfect.

Saddle Mountain was my preferred home away from home. The owner is an elderly woman—I’ll call her G—who knows all there is to know about dogs. She required that James and I be interviewed before she would let me stay there. G was kind to me. So much so that she let me stay in her house—and not in a crate—while I was there. I spent a whole month with her while James and Ron were in France. At the time I was one and a quarter years. Unfortunately, that lengthy stay was to be my last time there.

During my final visit to Saddle Mountain, there was an electrical fire. We don’t know if any of my canine friends or myself had any lung damage, as G’s son refused to let the veterinarian examine those of us who were boarding at the time. Long story short, it was G’s son who caused a split between James and that kennel, meaning I’m no longer allowed to go there. I miss G and my friends who still go there.

The second kennel James took me to is called Wunderland. I enjoyed going there because there were so many new friends to play with. Some old friends from the previous kennel showed up there as well. However, the first time I went there I came home with kennel cough even though I get a Bordetella shot every six months. At least that’s what the owner of the kennel told James, although he never heard me cough. Still, to be safe we paid a visit to the vet for some medication.

The second time, after extensive begging to be taken back there, I came home with conjunctivitis. Anyone can catch contagious diseases in such close quarters as kennels. After another visit to the vet, it was a drop in both eyes twice a day for seven days. Nonetheless, when I came home with pneumonia, well, that was the third strike. I haven’t been back since. The good news is that my number of friends has grown exponentially now that I’ve been multiple times to two separate kennels.

The number of my friends expanded even further when James took me to Wagmore. I got to go there twice a week for what they call daycare. I arrived at 8:00 am, and James picked me up at 5:00 pm. This was a terrific place. I got to jump on overstuffed furniture and play most of the day. Oh, and I initially thought the best part was when we were left alone during the day—no one watched us when the owner went into the office. We loved being able to play unsupervised.

Well, that is until Bruno (That’s not his real name, but suffice it to say it is apropos.) attacked me. That’s right. The day after the assault, James took me to be groomed. There was matted blood under my neck where I’d bled extensively, and four teeth wounds on either side of my jugular—boy, was I lucky. James showed these puncture marks to the owner who denied it happened on his watch. Well, he wasn’t watching. Suffice it to say, I no longer go back there. Oh, and I now have this weird thing about dogs that look like Bruno.

This brings us to the fourth place: Willow Farm. This place is huge. There are so many dogs there—twice as many as the other places I’ve stayed. Since I’ve been going there, I’ve come home with one hot spot on my right front paw from swimming in their pool (Yes, they have a wading pool.) because they never dry my hair when I get wet. (As an Old English Sheepdog, I have hair.) I also come home, as James likes to say, filthy dirty. But I don’t mind getting grimy since it means I get to take a shower with James.

Still, there is the fact that I get bored while I’m there since I spend most of the time in a crate. And when I get bored, well, I lick myself, especially above my knee on my right foot. When I come home with a self-inflicted sore, I have to wear “the cone of shame.” That’s an Elizabethan collar. Now, when I go to Willow, I wear the collar the entire time I’m left in the crate, but they do take it off when I go out to play. While this is not ideal, it is how I currently spend my time when James and Ron go away.

There are two alternative kennels James is considering. One is a new place in Chester called Gussie’s Place. It recently opened, so James is waiting to see what people have to say before jumping into the deep end head first. The second option is for me to either stay with his friends or they come to stay here at Skygate Farm. I’ve let James know I much prefer the first option since it would mean I’d get to play with other dogs. The second choice might, if the friends have a canine, allow me to play with at least one other companion.

Playing with friends is one of my favorite in the whole wide world. However, playing with wild animals, well, not so much fun as my old BFF found out. James wrote about it in this poem. We thought you might enjoy reading it.


While an expansive feast
for our expectant guests
succulently steeps
the twilight ascends promptly
like a bedspread relaxing
into a feathered mattress. An oversized
buttery orb scales the distant hills
from underneath the
mantle, with an accompanying
evening breeze
wafting through our windows
as if a tonic.

Out the window, I entertain
my agitated dog,
using first one paw,
then the other,
to claw at his face which is,
pierced with porcupine quills.
While Native Americans
used these quills to make ornaments,
Trek is not bejeweled
but frightened with whiskers on end.

Solitary rodents,
porcupines feed on vegetation
and tree bark,
so Trek was not
the porcupine’s intended dinner;
but Trek must have thought the porcupine looked
like a tasty morsel of licorice sticks.

These were porcupette quills,
some no more than an
in length, designed to release when they
come in
contact with another animal.
They have barbs which
force the quill to work its way inside,
becoming lethal
when piercing
a major organ.

Trek encroached
on the porcupine’s territory,
and certainly heard
the porcupette’s shrill screeches,
whines, groans, and unfriendly chatter.
Now we
were to infringe on our
vet’s evening with 40 more quills
needing removal
after the 15
we extracted
from his cheeks and lips.
Trek would not
let us intrude inside his mouth.

Upon our belated homecoming
we delightfully discover
that our vacationing acquaintances
have pleasantly established
themselves after savoring their
salacious supper.
These valued friends are not
but are graciously welcome.

It’s most agreeable
to acknowledge
that we possess such
familiar visitors aware that they
may disembark and depart at their leisure,
as well as at ours.
If only
Trek’s visitations in the woods
were as welcome.

We find
such unexpected pleasures
in Vermont
prodded on by porcupines.


(Visual from


Speaking of animals with quills, Ron and I saw one of these critters the other night. Yes, indeed, we did. Wouldn’t you know, Ron saw it first and started leading me back home, but movement out of the corner of my eye caused me to look, and the creature was nearly half my size. That’s right—half my size with its quills raised in defense. I have Ron to thank for my not being quilled like Trek because I most certainly would have gone after it. Little did I know it was the rear of the beast that was turned our way.

Well, so much for porcupines and so much for kennels. Oh, yeah. That reminds me. Come back in two weeks and find out how truly lucky I got at that first kennel. I know you’ll like this story.

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



“Porcupine” 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

2 thoughts on “The Good, Bad, and Ugly Truth About Dog Kennels.

  1. I used to have a dog, and he had a bad experience at a boarding kennel, too. I was fortunate that I didn’t travel much when I had Sammy, and – after the bad kennel experience – I was most fortunate that my infrequent travels were places I could take Sammy with me.

    Liked by 1 person

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