Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Doggone it.

Yesterday, it was pointed out to me that at least my cream puff/toilet dip/pen explosion didn't happen on a Tuesday, my typical rotten day, and I agreed wholeheartedly. Apparently, this particular Tuesday was instead reserved by the gods for the dogs. As in, the day literally went to the dogs. The kids were good, my colleagues were lovely, but the dogs really played a large role in keeping my day from being dullsville. That and my ill-fated decision to wear my new cream-colored foxy angora sweater, black pants and high heels.
It always, of course, begins with Gus. Every morning, I let Gus out for one final round of business before he gets his puppy chow. The dog is completely, 100% food-centric at this hour of the day. Business? Check! Give me my chow. Go in my room? Check! Serve up the chow! You want me to sit? Spin? Stay? Triple check, now deal up the beef.
This particular morning, Gus became inexplicably intrigued by the mud in the backyard. Since it hasn't rained since the turn of the century, I can almost understand why he became enamored with the notion of digging in it. Almost. Digging means muddy paws, and muddy paws mean that Gus' feet double in size when they are caked with the natural earthy essence that is Texas black clay. Needless to say, when he finally came in [did I mention that I was running about ten minutes late?], I pinned his squirming, writhing, puppy chow fixated self to the wall of the kitchen and launched Operation: Wipedown.
He fought, I pushed. He wiggled, I yelled. He swiped one paw full of muddy goodness down my sleeve, I struck him soundly across the behind. Then I carried him struggling and twisting directly to the bathtub where we engaged in the dragging-to-the-spout and yelping session necessary to rid his paws of this aforementioned foulness. I might mention here that it's been a leeeeetle long since I clipped his nails. He kind of has talons. One of those talons veered stealthily out of the bathtub, took a slap at my [expensive, foxy] sweater and proceeded to get hung in the delicate fabric.
"AAEROWH!" Gus yelped indignantly, completely offended that my sweater had the audacity to claim his claw in this, his time of intense hunger. Lucky for him, he tugged and yanked until he reclaimed his digit, leaving my [really cute, dainty] sweater with a very awkward-looking sleeve and a stretched out hole. I will not offend you with the unloving momentos which were hurled at Gus that moment, and I will cease describing my actions in an effort to avoid the SPCA or animal rights activists launching an uprising in my direction.
I made it to school at last and even managed to use my Gus tale as part of a writing lesson detailing the intricasies of "whispering parentheses" and "taffy sentences." I owe my teaching successes all to Gus, really I do. All was well until my recess duty, during which two neighborhood dogs got loose and bounded onto the playground, infinitely excited by the idea of 100 ten year olds to play with. One of these dogs still had the rope tied to his neck that he had chewed through, and both were probably about 50 pounds.
Stop for a moment and think about any ordinary professional job. [pause] Okay. Now we'll talk about mine. Here are my choices:
1. Dog bites child, school gets sued, Pigs somehow gets fired or sued as well.
2. Dog bites teacher. [end of consequences]
Clearly, I had no choice. I sighed, took stock of the location of the [muddy, wet] dogs and bolted off, heels and all, in hot pursuit of these dogs. Heels sinking into the mud, I lunged and darted until I cornered the dogs by the building. I got one by the rope and one by the collar, hunkered down, and held on tight. I was naturally surrounded by about 80 kids wanting to pet the dogs, and there is nothing harder than explaining the short version of liability law to a group of ten year olds who want nothing more than to pet the cute panting puppies in front of them. It's unnatural, but I had no choice.
I spent the next 20 minutes crouched down, enveloping myself and my black dress pants around the dog called Maggie. We waited for Animal Control to arrive while Maggie bucked like a bronco and swung her head back to lick my face repeatedly, much to the delight of my audience. This conversation was repeated more times than I care to recount:
Student: Why can't we pet her?
Me: Because if she bites you, I'll get fired.
Student: Why do you get to pet her?
Me: Because no one cares if she bites me.
Student: Oh.
At long last the Animal Control arrived and set off to talk to the dogs' owners about proper fencing techniques and basic animal safety. I stood up on shaky weak knees and hesitantly looked southward. My dress shoes and trouser socks were covered in mud, doggie footprints and bits of grass, my dress pants featured streaks of mud, one distinct paw print, and enough fur to craft me a new sweater. I felt dog slobber film drying on my neck and chin and I detected the distinct scent of dog about me.
Walking back into the school to address my other professional duties, namely teaching, I wearily reviewed my ongoing list of jobs that are expected of me as a public educator:
Self-Esteem Coordinator
Friendship Counselor
Handwriting Analyst
Child Psychologist
Police Escort
Dog Catcher

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