January 28, 2010

An Education

Being a Dog Teacher (escorting Gretchen to her classroom each day), I have learned a great deal from our students. I know, I know, teachers say that all the time, but in my case, it’s quite true. Today I learned this.

Student One: Why do dogs lick themselves like that? (I happened to be licking myself in what humans consider to be a private area.)

Student Two: Because they don’t make doggie toilet paper!

Brilliant, yes? They don’t make doggie toilet paper and though that’s not really the reason I lick myself, I thought it was a brilliant and thoughtful response.

But I’ve learned far more than this. Mostly what I’ve learned is that there are a million different types of students and each of the requires a certain kind of education. Like dogs, children are all unique and what works for one may not always work for the other.

That makes my job as a Dog Teacher particularly difficult and though I’m still young, I’m trying my best to master the art of education.

These thoughts swirled in my head today and for fun, I decided to picture our dog clients (and my friends) as students in our classroom.

First up was Ollie. If Ollie were a human student he would be the kind of nerdy kid who likes to play with Legos and knows the circumference of the tallest tree in the world, weird stuff like that. His favorite subject would be science and he’d get giddy if he got to run his own experiment with Bunsen burners and bubbling chemicals.

Oh, and he’d be the kid who can’t stay in his seat. He’d squirm and twist all day long, popping up every few minutes to sharpen his pencil or get a drink of water. He’d fidget with paper clips and sit on his knees, but he’d do it all with this winning smile that would melt the heart of even the meanest of teachers.

Gemma, on the other hand, would be the kid who always poked you when you were trying to work. “Hey,” she’d say and then ask you endless questions like, “When’s recess? What’s for lunch? You wanna play with me?” Gemma would be the student who never heard the instructions the first time and had to ask for the teacher to repeat them or even worse, ignore the instructions altogether and then halfway through the class ask, “What are we supposed to do?”

Gemma would be the kid who was loved by some and annoyed by others. She’d have her favorite friends (like Saber), but she wouldn’t ignore those who weren’t her friends. Instead, she’d try to get under their last nerve and with great persistence , tease them until she got a rise out of them.

Whereas Ollie would be the science geek, Gemma would excel at theater, the star of the play, and president of the Drama Club. She’d win awards for her acting skills and her willingness to sacrifice her body for her art.

Saber would be the hunky football player though prone to spats of klutziness. He’d be a linebacker who always wore his jersey even when it wasn’t game day. When he moved through the hallways, everyone would step aside, but that wouldn’t stop him from saying hello to everyone by giving them a slightly too rough of a punch in the arm.

While teachers might at first stereotype him as the dumb jock, he’d wow them with his adroit math skills and his love of history. While handsome and athletic, he’d wear glasses when he studied and send Valentine’s to everyone in class. Of course, everyone would know he was sweet on Gemma though his friends would caution against dating an older (and wilder) upper classmate. Still, he’d have a hard time controlling his feelings for her and faithfully attend every play she performed in.

Rosie would be the shy, studious girl with her nose in a book and a fear of taking risks (though today she climbed through the tractor to get the treats…way to go Rosie!).

The most misunderstood, Rosie would appear to despise the world, but then melt under the loving attention of those who took the time to know her.

Her favorite subject would be psychology. Though she wouldn’t be the girl to always have her hand up in class with the right answer, when called upon she’d correctly answer any question posed as well as provide detailed examples to explain her thinking.

Alice would be friends with Rosie, if they’d only emerge from their shy selves long enough to actually meet. Like Rosie, Alice would enjoy a good book, but would rather spend her time sniffing out the correct answer on complicated calculus problems. A rather short temper, Alice would struggle during recess and often might find herself in the principal’s office, but because of her intelligence, she’s learned to avoid these confrontations by steering clear of trouble (or growling at it if it threatens to come near).

Alice would also be a risk taker. Case in point, she got distracted by a bee today and wanted to eat it. Now that’s daring!

Woobie, on the other hand, would be very popular, not just because of her long, flowing locks, but also because of her genuinely sincere and friendly personality. While not overly effusive, Woobie would be a leader among her peers, not in a bold and brash manner, but in more of a subtle and refined way.

Woobie would be good at all subjects though she’d never boast about her success or her winning SAT score. Humble and secure with herself, she’d know when to play and when to be quiet, when to offer a smile and when to just sit back and observe. And though she has all the potential in the world to be a doctor or a lawyer or a CEO, she’d choose to become a teacher unconcerned with money and fame.

Oh, and let me not forget Henry (because we ran into him today at the tennis courts). He’d be the newest kid in the class, but also the youngest having skipped a couple of grades because he was so smart. In short order, he’d be considered the class mascot and take the oath of his office quite seriously.

Me? Well, when I was first adopted, my moms were told that I’d be the kid with my hand always up in the air, the one who thought he knew the answer, but may in fact not. I’d be the class clown, they were told, and would need firm boundaries to rein in my overly enthusiastic tendencies.

Knowing this is perhaps why my moms give me lots and lots of exercise and have channeled my energy into writing. They knew I’d need to find many ways to express myself as well as a cadre of friends to keep my entertained.

Now, if we were all in the same classroom together, I’d feel sorry for the teacher, but luckily we’re all sort of home schooled and allowed to go on many wondrous field trips so that no one teacher has to endure us all at the same time!

Until tomorrow,


PS — More photos from today below!

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