“Again? How? I DROVE the kids to school!” I was embarrassed, frustrated, and slightly amused. Our Lab/Retriever cross, Maddie, was running around the playground and at the doors of the grade school, trying to get in. The first incident had been even better. She had gotten IN to the school and was roaming the halls to the delight of the children and the chagrin of the principle, the teachers, and especially the secretary who called to tell me to come get our dog. The first time, it was as they walked and , I suspect, coaxed her, letting her through the school doors! It was an event that I had hoped would not become a series. How does a big yellow dog sneak out the only door in the home without being noticed? Perhaps the chaos of getting five kids readied and out the door fully equipped for the day distracted me. Imagine that! I dutifully went and retrieved our dog, witnessing the joy and chaos that was ensuing, apologizing profusely and promising no future events.
One fall, my then husband, Lyle decided to build a dog house, and that Maddie should stay outside. SO incensed were my six-year-old twin boys, Ben and Max, that they crawled into the doghouse, refusing to leave, in protest. Lyle explained to them that there was hay in the dog house and a carpet flap on the door, that the dog would be perfectly warm and comfortable, “See how nice and warm and comfortable it is in there?” Their dad’s words earned him a retort from Ben of, “I guess we’ll be nice and warm and comfortable in here then. I’m staying in here. Maddie is part of our family and she belongs in the house!” I tried a different tactic, “What about when it gets dark? Aren’t you going to be scared out here?” I was no match for our twin boys who seemed to share a brain at times. Quicker than I could completely finish my sentence, they came back with, “Think about how scared Maddie is going to be.” I don’t think the dog house was ever used by anyone but those two little darlings.
Maddie was my constant companion during the years that Lyle worked second shift (I think it was 4pm to 2:30 am). I felt safe with her there. I’m forever grateful for the time I had with her, curled up next to me as I watched television or read, once the grueling process of getting the kids to bed was finally over. She was always swift to alert anyone’s presence outside at night. One time a real creep came to our door. Maddy heard him long before he got there. I called 911 when the guy wouldn’t go away. When the cop came to the door, the first thing he said is, “Shut your dog into another room.” I understand completely why. He had no idea if she was dangerous. At the time, though, I looked confused. She was the woman of the hour, a hero! At my hesitation, he repeated himself with more authority, so I complied. They found the guy sleeping in a van next door. At that, of course, I did feel bad for him. Lost was his role as villain. He was a homeless man seeking warmth and shelter in sub-zero temperatures. No, I wouldn’t have opened the door even with this knowledge. I knew Maddie had my back and would protect our family. Yes, she deserved to sleep in the house with the rest of us.
The day that Maddie “visited” the school for the first time, the kids came home SO animated as they described the event of the day, talking all at once. “Did any of you let her into the school?” I gave them all the mom stare. I was met with four pairs of big innocent eyes that were far too big and far too innocent looking to be anything but guilty. Serrah, the spokesperson of our kiddos piped up, “We were in the school, and then she was just there, running everywhere.” It was a truth that was spoken to hide the real truth. THEIR dog was in the school running all over! She was a big hit in the kindergarten room that she visited. Maddie was a huge hit, which meant that each of the kids was also a huge hit! The frustration of the adults involved was nearly eclipsed by the pure joy that the kids at school, and that my kids in particular were experiencing. At grade school level, this gave them celebrity status for a day or two, at least. Their excitement was contagious, even as I admonished them that this could not ever happen again. Ben and Max chimed in, words both blending together and tumbling over each other, “But the kids loved her. You should have seen it, Mom. It was SO cool! She was everywhere! The teachers were kinda mad, though” I have no doubt that it was cool, yet the thought of receiving another call from the school mortified me. I still smile as I picture the scene at the school and the sheer joy on the flushed faces of my children as they celebrated that day. Yes, she followed them to school, which was against the rules!