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No school for him (09/04/2013)
By Frances Edstrom
No school for him

Tuesday was a hard day. The minute the dog-who-must-not-be-written-about heard the school bus turn the corner onto our road, he was scrambling to get to the end of the driveway. He came racing back up to the house after the bus cruised right on past the drive and on up the hill.

“Quick! Quick!” he said, panting. “Get my backpack! I think she’ll stop on her way down the hill!”

“Calm down,” I said. “What do you think is happening here?”

“First day of school!” he said.

“Just sit down and relax,” I said, wondering how I was going to break it to him that school was starting for the year, but not for him.

“Did you get me new pencils? A pencil bag? Do I need a ruler? What about lunch? What’s for hot lunch?” he said, circling the kitchen like a whirling dervish.

“No, no, no, I don’t know,” I said.

I stood motionless while he wore himself out. Just as he was settling down, we heard the telltale bus brakes wheezing to a stop at the corner. He jumped into action again, calling for his backpack.

“Sit!” I commanded. He sat, after a fashion. “You, I’m afraid, cannot go to school.”

“What?” he said, and I thought I saw a tear roll down his muzzle. “But…I’ve been so good all summer.”

“Yes, you have. You have been very good. But school is for human children, not for dogs.”

“Are you kidding?!” he said, jumping up. “Do you mean they let those things that scream, cry, run, throw clothes and shoes all over, drop wet towels on the floor, never shut the refrigerator, and cower when all I’m trying to do is be friendly — those things get to go to school?”

“I’m afraid so,” I said. You know, when he put it that way, I wondered if a nice kindergarten teacher wouldn’t prefer to have a classroom full of old dogs who like to sleep twenty out of twenty-four hours. She may have to take them out to recess away from where the children are playing, but any mess they make is…well…predictable.

“You see,” I began, trying for a lighthearted tone, “most dogs can’t be relied upon to learn to read and write and do math and science.”

“We’re good at geography, though,” he pointed out. “Haven’t you heard about dogs who find their owners who have moved across country? How smart is that?”

“That’s very smart,” I said. “That’s very, very smart. But school is…hmmm…” How can I put this? I can’t think of a way to put it, so I give it to him straight. “School is for humans.”

He put his head on his paws. Silence descended upon the room. Finally he spoke.

“No school. No iPad. No recess. No field trips. No art class. No band. No cross country team. What do I have now that I don’t have school?”

I took a deep breath.

“You still have the yard. Think of the things you learn out there.”

“Yeah. I do.”

“And,” I said, “you have your bed. Nice and comfy. You have food in your bowl all day long and nice cold water.”

“Do they leave the toilet lid up at school?” he asked pathetically.

“No.” I said. “I think they try to teach them not to do that.”

“I didn’t realize that,” he said. “That could be a game changer. No cold water, all day long?”

“Um, you are not supposed to do that at home,” I said.

“You go to work. I’m on my own. Does someone watch you all the time at school?”

“Yes, they do. That’s their job,” I said.

“Aren’t you late for work?” he said.

“Have you given up on school?” I asked.

“For this year. I’m thinking I’ll wait for high school,” he said.

I left for the office. 


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