Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Other Pack Members

After writing the last post earlier today, I've been thinking about the old dogs, I realized I should explain who Ben was - since I have described him as my "lifetime dog". Ben was the dog who came to school. I was teaching in a Title I program with my classroom being the first one in the hallway near the front door. My program covered all the grades in the building (plus two parochial schools) so I knew almost all of the students in the school. One morning, right after the doors opened, I heard a ruckus in the hallway. I went to the door to see what it was about, and discovered that some of the older boys had let a dog into the hallway. I took one look at the scrawny little mutt and felt an instant connection. It was the middle of a very cold winter, and this dog had come inside with ice balls in his paws and ice hanging on his face. He was so thin all of his ribs were showing, and he was so tired that he almost fell asleep in my arms the minute I picked him up. I had a little reading corner in my classroom, furnished with a couch and comfortable chairs and a nice rug. I placed the dog in the middle of that rug and almost ran down the hallway to the kitchen. The cook was a good friend who quickly gave in to my begging and gave me a carton of milk for the dog. When I got back to the classroom, he was fast asleep right where I'd put him down. I left him on the rug through my first class. I had a small group of three boys who were all pleased to work on computers and stay out of the reading corner. The boys already knew about the dog, one of them was probably the joker who originally brought the dog into the school. While the boys were working, I gave the dog a close lookover and found that, in addition to looking starved, he had some almost healed creases across his head and rump. They looked like bullet creases.

It wasn't long before our principal, Mr. Miller, came to the door and told me I couldn't keep the dog in my classroom. I moved the poor little guy to the teachers lounge. He stayed there quietly through my next class, but then teachers started having recess breaks in the teachers lounge and someone complained about the dog. Mr. Miller said I'd have to have him out of there before lunch time. At lunch time I returned him to my classroom, but Mr. Miller said I would have to put him outside. I knew Mr. Miller's word, no matter how kindly he said it, was law, so I put the poor little thing out the front door. Not too much later, some of the older kids told me to come to their classroom at the back of the school. Not only had they rescued the dog and sneaked him back inside, they had named him Benjy. It happened several more times that I had to put Benjy out the front door and the kids would sneak him in the back door. It happened enough times that finally the school day was over. It wasn't until the end of the day, when Mr. Miller told me he hoped I could get the dog home okay, that I realized Mr. Miller had been rooting for us all day. The proper procedure would have been to call Animal Control the minute the dog arrived in the morning. He hadn't called, and Ben came to live with me for the rest of is life.

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