SHOW AND TELL…
One day after I returned from work, Michael, my youngest, came up to me bashfully and asked me if I was going to be busy Friday. I thought about it a moment.
I told him that I was doing something, but asked what was on his mind, because I take every other Friday off to do columnist stuff, and would be glad to try to handle anything a five-year-old could dig up.
"Well, Daddy… You know Andy?"
Who doesn't? Andy is our three-legged dog, something of a celebrity since I began writing this column.
"Is Andy OK?" I asked.
"Oh… yeah. He's great. Listen… I told my teacher… well… that you could bring Andy. Friday."
"Oh." I frowned appropriately. He winced.
"For Show and Tell, Dad. Can you bring him, huh Daddy?" His little face barely held back the tears. I looked at him stiffly.
"And just who told you I could do that, anyway? Was it your Momma, again?" I winked. He burst into a grin.
"But I can't make it this Friday. Next Friday. OK?" Well, he started doing back flips across the room.
As I feared, Mike was up early and had a leash on Andy before I could get out of bed to tell him that this was the wrong Friday. Then, on Monday, Andy got sick. He is alergic to fleas, you see, and he get sores now and then that need treatment. But the Vet fixed him up, and we even gave him a bath, for all the good it did.
When Friday rolled around, Mike was nuts. He hugged me five times before getting on his bus, and reminded me every time to be there at 0930 sharp. He asked me over and over if I knew where his school was, and I assured him I did.
First of all, Andy seemed happy to get in the car, and I had not trouble with him at all. But I didn't know where the school was very well because I got lost. Well, I had started early, so I made it on time in spite of my mix-up.
I jumped out of the car, about a minute to spare, and let the dog out. I leashed him and we hobbled into the building. I was met by a teacher who dutifully tried to steer me by asking my business, but when I said that I was there for Show & Tell, she shrugged helplessly and pointed me to the office.
The horror of the Principle was obvious when I walked in with a dog on a leash. I could almost see the words stuck in her throat showing on her face… something like "dirty, homely, flea-bitten, three-legged dog and farmer… in MY school… disease… dog-bite… yukky stuff".
She was very gracious, but eyed the dog carefully. She pointed down the hall, and I wandered away. I got lost, if you can believe it, and went down the wrong hall. But I finally arrived at the open classroom door only two minutes late.
Michael nearly burst out of his place and ran over to the door. The teacher had just seen me when Mike jumped up, but was startled to see him move so quickly.
"Mikie!" I exclaimed. "Ask your teacher!"
He looked back at his teacher sheepishly and she nodded with a smile. He seemed awful glad to see us. He had the biggest grin in the world as he took my hand and lead me over to a chair in the middle of the front of the classroom. I sat down and he immediately put his arms around Andy. He really loves that old dog.
The Teacher must have been a Marine DI, cause she had them "dress-right-dress" on the floor when I came to the door.
Mike was allowed to come stand beside me and answer questions. All the hands went up, and Mike got real nervous. He sighed deeply several times, as though picking a class-mate was a real tough chore, but he finally got into the swing of it. One at a time he carefully answered all the questions.
How heavy is the dog?
Mike looked at me. I looked at him. He looked at me. Attempting to put the words into his mouth, I whispered "as heavy as me…", at which time he announced to the bewildered class…
"…as heavy as my Dad!"
"No, goofy, as heavy as YOU!" I spouted. They all burst into laughter, and after that, it was fun.
Did he have a girlfriend? No. Wouldn't do him much good anyway.
What do you do to care for him? Feed him, give him clean water. He sleeps on a blanket in the room where our washing machine is.
What do you feed them? Dog food.
Is there something special about Andy? No, he's just kind of a stinky old dog.
Where does he sleep? In our back room. He's an outside dog. Other than that, he is normal.
Do you play with him? Yeah. A lot. Well, we run around the back yard sometimes.
About this time all the questions were done, and the teacher asked if they could pet him. I told her he was stinky but that they could pet him. She lined them up, and then sent them to a line by a sink in the classroom where they washed.
Then someone noticed his missing leg. That got a whole lot of attention. All the kids gathered around again.
How did it happen? Well, he ran away one day, and came back without it.
Where? Weren't you watching him? Did it hurt, etc.
Anyway, Andy was treated like a wounded war hero for the next 10 minutes. And it was finally over. The Teacher thanked me and reviewed the three things a dog needs besides love: Food, Water, and Exercise. The lesson was complete.
Mike, realizing I was leaving, ran over again and hugged me. I kissed him and turned to go, and suddenly realized that everyone in the room was enjoying our affection. The love of a wonderful son is a priceless gift, and one which is the envy of all who see it.
The Teacher told him he could show me out, and so he took my hand and led me down the hall. As I stepped out the door, he yelled after me: "Now remember, Dad, give him some fresh water when you get home…"
OK, kid. Just for you.
Our dog Rusty also had three legs. That was about 60 years ago but it seems like last week. Thanks for stirring up a pleasant memory.