Super Teacher's Job is Never Done!

Super Teacher's Job is Never Done!
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Teaching is the profession that teaches all the other professions. ~ Author Unknown

My goal is to reveal one teacher's humble journey of self-reflection, critical analysis, and endless questioning about my craft of teaching and learning alongside my middle school students.

"The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called 'truth'." ~ Dan Rather

Monday, June 20, 2011

Pets Really Are Like Family

Anyone who has ever owned a pet knows that it can find its way into your heart permanently, much like any other close family member can. I've always been an animal lover and even wanted to be a veterinarian when I grew up. Even though that didn't work out, I have been blessed with countless animal companions in my life so far, most especially two dogs.

My first dog, a Lhasa Apso named Princess, was my "partner in crime" from fourth grade through the end of college. Spunky, stubborn, and full of attitude, Princess became another family member to me. When we had to put her down during the January of my senior year at Colgate University, I was beyond devastated.

Over a year later came Sophia, an adorable Maltese born in Germany who ended up in Massachusetts with friends of the breeder and whom I found via Craigslist. She has the perfect temperament, is fiercely loyal, and loves to travel with her human pack, be it on a leash or in the car down the East coast. I credit that ability to carrying her around in an oversized purse around Boston as a puppy. While I cannot have dogs in my building in Washington, DC now, Sophia is living it up in Florida with my retired mother. The two of them are adorable together, though my mother will NEVER admit just how much she loves her.

One of my wonderful colleagues and friends at school recently had to put her beloved Whippet, Whoppie, down last week. Whoopie had shared 14 great years of life with her and was very much like a child to her. She shared with me a beautiful eulogy for Whoopie and has allowed me to share it with you all. How touching!
Whoopie, AKC Seaspell’s Point Judith

June 23, 1996 – June 14, 2011

It is with a great sadness that our beloved Whoopie was euthanized yesterday after a very long battle with many infirmities which included a chronic sinusitis obstruction that made it difficult for her to breathe. She sounded like Darth Vader and we affectionately called her Snorkypants. We know she liked this distinction and was proud of herself. She was a fighter and tough old bird par excellence. She surprised more than one vet with her ability to keep on going. She is still used as a “case study” for a vet dental specialist who shows the slides to his students of her extensive tooth/gum surgeries. She was a survivor. We think she was proud of the scar on her face and her crooked smile for many years. That’s the way she rolled!

She had a couple strokes making it difficult to walk and she got arthritis in her hips quite badly which made her kinda walk sideways. She emulated the famous stride of John Wayne. She liked that too. After her most recent stroke she had great difficulty walking up or down steps. She did NOT allow us to carry her and we were not allowed to even watch. But she still ran to keep up with her best buddy, Mimi, a 4 year old Redcliffe whippet, who runs like the wind. In fact, living with Mimi for the past two years surely extended her life.

She weighed only 19-20 pounds (on a good day) but she ate anything she wanted to, was super fond of treats. However, so great was her love of life, that it took enough medication to euthanize a 50 pound dog at the end.

She often accompanied us on pet therapy visits to nursing homes and the group home. The best part of it (in her eyes) was when the people told her how beautiful she was! She was always beautifully behaved, complied with our house rules, but maintained her dominance over everyone and everything! She always communicated when and what she wanted to eat, where she wanted to sleep (and with which of her 22 blankets she wanted to sleep). One of her pet projects was digging in the back yard and working to get the lines out of one of her dog beds. That particular recreation would give her hours of pleasure to try to take that darn old nap off the stupid plush! She loved just sitting in the back yard on her blanket, which had to be moved several times a day to either catch the sun or avoid the sun according to HER wishes. She loved the back yard, especially the many lily beds which she frequented to find the delicate edible grasses. When back in the lily fields she was almost invisible. Just yelling, “Whoopie, show yourself” would make her scamper out and run to us.

Whoopie was bred with the hope of being a lure courser. However she morphed into one of the biggest couch potatoes in history. As a senior dog, Whoopie could pour on the speed whenever our dear neighbor came to the fence to give Mimi and Whoopie their daily treats. She also was a big help to Mimi when chasing critters from our yard in order to keep it “safe.” Just within weeks of her death, she helped Mimi to catch and kill a big fat possum that had invaded our yard without getting dirty herself! She never liked being dirty. On the other hand, Mimi loves getting dirty but she is a more whippety whippet.

She was very smart and would even do “big” and “little” potty on command on walks. For a whippet, she had outstanding recall and would come if she wasn’t the one being called. She would go into the shade or take a drink when asked. We would often ask her, “How did you get to be so good?” But of course she wasn’t perfectly trained (although she had trained us perfectly). One of the funny things she did would be to ask to go out, and then sneak over and take the “good” spot on the couch. She would always hide when it came time to put her in her crate and, in the last years, would snork extra loudly when being carried to her crate as if to say, “I’m a poor old little whippet. I am retired. I don’t do crate anymore.”

To say that Whoopie will be missed is an understatement as she was a big part of our lives for many years. She rolled over and smiled at us the first time we met her, as if to say, “I choose you.” The house is quiet without the sound of her snorking. Mimi is sad and withdrawn and did not smile at us this morning. We are very lucky to have had Whoopie in our family for such a long time and are grateful that she had a good quality of life until her last day, when she could no longer walk without pain, had no interest in eating or drinking, and appeared dazed and disoriented. We will remember her as a strong, stubborn, funny, smart, loving, loyal, tough, beautiful little dog. She was our Snorkypants, a one in a million dog.

Whoopie as a young adult

Easter, 2011

Whoopie in the lilies

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