Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Dog in School!!

My apologies for my TERRIBLE neglect of this blog.  Here are my sad excuses:

Lathrop Ballroom Dance Team Spring Show & Auction (I'm the team's assistant director)
and other Ballroom Dance Team performances
Prom (daughter #1)
17th Birthday party and overnighters(daughter #1)
14th Birthday party and overnighters(daughter #2)
Lathrop High School Musical, "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown," 5 nights (daughter #1)
Track season (daughter #2)
Spring Choir Concert (daughter #1)
Spring Orchestra Concert (daughter #2)
UAF Graduation Party (2 relatives)
Physical Therapy Appointments (daughter #2)
Construction of a Box Kite (daughter # 2)
Solo & Ensemble Competition in Anchorage (daughter #1)
Retirement Parties
Various other school projects/reports/papers (2 daughters who needed "prodding")
...not to mention my own classroom family picnic, awards, field trips, field day, projects, papers to grade, report cards to finish, and yes, the ducklings that just hatched!!  Did I mention the taxes?.......  AUUUGGGHHHH!!!!

Well, at least I feel better now.  I guess I accomplished a lot over the last 4 weeks!

Despite the busy schedule, it is ALL FUN!  I just wish I had more hours in the day to enjoy it all.

Some of the greatest fun that I have had in a long time came through my connection with the famous Wimsey Bloodhound of Manhattan.  Over the last couple of months, his humans have written and illustrated a book for my classroom, detailing the history and some of the sights of New York City and comparing it to where we live in Fairbanks, Alaska.  My students have been enthralled with the project, and we read the book together several times.  We also looked at many photos of Wimsey and studied New York City on the internet.  In addition, we investigated hounds, learning the difference between sight and scent hounds.  We covered dog anatomy and dog care as well.  Of course special emphasis was placed on bloodhounds!  Last week we wrote letters to Wimsey and sent them along with some gifts, both for the canine and the humans.  My students were incredibly inspired by this wonderful hound, and wrote volumes for him, which was quite surprising in the case of several of the kids.  My principal even took note of the inspiration that Wimsey had on several of my struggling students, and discussed the project's positive impact on the learning environment in my classroom during an educational forum this week.  

How could I follow up on all this excitement in the classroom?  Well, I brought my own bloodhound, Gus, in for a visit, of course!  An ALL DAY visit!  Actually, this is his third year of visiting my school.

What a grand day we had!  Gus arrived with me at 7:45 a.m. and we made the rounds saying hello to staff.  He is always greeted with a smile and a pat.  At 8:30 a.m. my students arrived, and greeted Gus with squeals of delight.  He took it all in stride.  As the kids sat on the floor in a group to say hello, he rolled onto his side and wiggled around the group, touching each student with his nose.  For such a large, awkward hound, he is incredibly gentle with children. When my students went off to Music, Gus and I made the first of our scheduled visits to other classrooms to teach a little about hounds and dog care.  The kindergarten children sang the Dog Alphabet song to him.  We visited a 3rd grade classroom where he ate two pencils and a folder. We also visited the 1st graders and a multi-age classroom during the course of the day.

Gus met the one week old ducklings that our 2nd graders incubated over the last month. It was hilarious.  He was very hesitant at first, but then he and one of the khakis had a "conversation." Nose to nose!  I think the khaki won, because Gus backed off first!

Back in my classroom, we talked a lot about responsible dog ownership, like what to feed/not feed your dog, walking your dog daily and how to pick up poop responsibly.  We drew and colored pictures of bloodhounds and reviewed dog anatomy.  (Do YOU know where the pastern is?) We walked Gus several times and saw first hand how a bloodhound follows his nose.  At the end of the day, the kids were sad to say goodbye, and several wanted to keep the cardboard tubes that Gus had chewed for souvenirs!  What a WONDERFUL DAY we had!  I wish I could post pictures of my students with Gus, but for obvious reasons I cannot do that.

              (Gus says goodbye to the kids at the end of the day)

I am so proud of my big bloodhound.  He is a fabulous dog, gentle and nurturing with each child.  I am very lucky to have him, and to have a principal that is happy to allow a giant dog to come to class for an entire school day!  


Unknown said...

Aw... what a great blog post. I wish Mom would take me to the office, especially the day of a catered event... Gorgeous photo of Gus!

Ina in Alaska said...

Edie what a sweet post. It sounded like a great outing for Gus and I was touched at how he made a huge difference to the children. I wish dogs could be part of work life everywhere. I think the day would go better, faster and people would be more relaxed. xoxo

Bentley said...

Wow Gus! That is so great that you got to go to school. What a fine picture of you!

And how great is it that the stories from Wimsey & your visit helped so many of the students learn. All very, very cool.

Is school out for the summer now? If it is, I hope your humans will have a chance to slow down and relax a bit (as well as provide more adoration to you, the hounds), even though all the events sound like they were fun and exciting.

Life With Dogs said...

You have been more than busy enough - no need to apologize for living it up (minus the taxes) - it just gives you more to fill us in on!

Wimsey said...

Yeah Gus! Way to go buddy, teaching the kids about us. Love the photo of you looking out the window. Was that after the children had left for the day? And thank you for the shout out, that was very kind of you and your human.


Edie and Gus said...

School will be out for the Fairbanks kids on Tuesday, May 19th. Teachers will work until Thursday the 21st.
But I"M not counting.... :-D

The photo was after school, when Gus was watching the kids leave. It was really sad. I wish I could bring a dog everyday. Dimond Willow, the treeing walker coonhound, would also make an excellent classroom companion. Maybe next year I'll schedule a day for her, too.

In a week the girls and I are leaving for Palm Springs. It may kill me. Temperatures have been in the 100's. Yuck!

Oh yes, and in case anyone is wondering, the snow is ALMOST gone!! :-)

Ms. ~K said...

Great post about 2 of my favorite things: kids and dogs!
Sounds like it was a "pawsitive:
experience for all!!!

Bentley said...

Hope your last day of school for the year goes great!