Is That a Dog?

I took Schroeder, our family dog, to Backpack Middle School with me on Friday.  He is an 85 lb., mostly white dog with black ears, and the students love to see him.  I take him once or twice each year, and since the school year is almost over, I thought the students would enjoy a visit.

It is fun to hear the students’ questions about him.  The most common are:

Q. – “Is that a dog?” (no joke)

A. – “Very good.  Your education is paying off.”

Q. – “What kind of dog is he?”

A. – “A shepherd mix”

Q. – “How old is he?”

A. – “8 1/2 years.”

Q. – “Is that your dog?”

A. #1 – Nope.  I found him out back, named him Schroeder, and taught him some tricks.  Wanna see?”  Or…

A. #2 – “Nope.  There I was, minding my own business, when out of the blue this dog with leash attached ran up and practically begged me to walk him.”  Or…

A. #3 – “Yes.  Wait a minute.  No.  Hey, who switched dogs with me?”

Q. – “Did you bring him to work today?” (no kidding)

A. – “No.  He drove.  I read the paper.”

The students are always eager to see any tricks Schroeder knows, which aren’t many.  He knows the commands to sit, lie down, stay, and come here.  And when I say, “Go to your room,” he goes into the BandLand office.

However, he is an expert at the “Find the Peanut” game.  For this, I send him to my office and close the door.  Then I hand out one peanut each to five or six students in the band room with the instructions that all the students are to hold their hands in front of them with fists closed as though they are each hiding a peanut.  When everyone is ready, I call Schroeder out and lead him around the room.  He gives each student a quick sniff; if there is no peanut, he quickly moves on.  But when he smells one, he starts poking his nose into their hands until they open up and give him the treat.  Over the years he has gotten very good at this game.

Once the introductions are over and everyone has had a chance to pet him, we get to work.  It is pretty neat how the students can go ahead with rehearsal while Schroeder lies on the floor next to my podium.  It seems they can be trained, too, though there was that one time I caught Cal trying to poke Schroeder with his trombone slide… (why is it always the trombone players?).

When I first started taking Schroeder to work with me several years ago, a few teachers asked why I would do this.  It never occurred to me that it could be a bad idea.  I just thought it would make school a little more fun.  The best part has been meeting students I didn’t know before or have never had in class.  They feel free to come up and ask to pet him.  Then they will often tell me about their pets.  It gives me the chance to get to know them better, and vice versa.

Of course, I have to be cautious with him; some students are scared of large dogs.  But to those who fear the interruption in the school day I would say, if handled correctly (get permission from your principal), and on the right days, activities like this can be a really good thing.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Rachael Shaver on May 20, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    Schroeder is sooooooo cute!


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