My sister Bev’s grandson is a kindergartner in Caledonia, Michigan, and when we were visiting there this week, young Bryce was kind enough to share his Great Aunt Beth and Whitney with his fellow kindergartners and first-graders at Paris Ridge Elementary School.
Teachers read Safe & Sound to all the kids before we arrived, so they were all set with questions when we got there. Some examples?
- How do you go to bed?
- Does your dog drive?
- Can you take a taxi with your dog?
- How can you see if you’re blind?
- What if the taxi driver has allergies?
- Does your dog like getting a bath?
That last question gave me a chance to explain that Seeing Eye trainers encourage us to brush our dogs every day. “I lift her ear flaps to check her ears when I’m brushing her, too,” I said. “If they smell bad, that lets me know she might have an ear infection,” I said. When I brush her, I feel her coat, too, so I’ll know if she has any lumps or bumps that the veterinarian needs to check out.”
Back to that question about baths. Seeing Eye dogs are almost always on leash, so they don’t get into mud puddles and stuff like that. “And if we brush them every day, they never really need a bath.”
The question made me remember the one and only time one of my Seeing Eye dogs did need a bath, and for some reason I decided to tell the kids how that happened. “I was on a city bus with my first dog, Pandora, and someone a few rows ahead of us threw up,” I said. After pausing for a chorus of Eeeeeeooooooos from the audience, I continued. ”The puke seeped under the seat from the front of the bus to the back, and it got all over my dog. She really needed a bath that time!” I heard a chorus of “uh-huhs and “she sure dids” that time. The questions went on from there.
- Does Bryce ever get to pet your dog?
- When is it okay for your dog to disobey you?
- I just want to say, I have a dog who is blind.
- I think I saw you when I was in Chicago. Was that you?
And finally, my favorite of the day :
- So, you know, when your dog had to take a bath that time, what color was the throw up?