Years ago I was a long term substitute teacher for Kindergarten. Over the years of teaching there have been many students who have stayed in my memory for a variety of reasons, but there is one that I talk about the most, even now, 6 years later.
This child was a very young kindergartener, a boy of just 4 years old who would not turn 5 until late in December. Our town had December 31st as the age requirement to be 5 to enroll. Due to this, most boys start kindergarten a whole year later, when they are much closer to turning 6. This little boy could not sit still. He climbed the bookshelves rather than take out a book to read. He turned somersaults during circle time. He was also a runner. Given the chance, he was out the door like a shot. And guess where he was headed? To the playground. We would walk down the hall in a single file line and he would fly like an airplane. His smile was infectious and numerous times teachers and older students would walk by and say “Oh he is so cute! He is like a baby!” and over and over again I would tell them not to say that. He was not a baby. He had to learn how to "do school" if he was ever going to succeed in school. But there was that time after bolting to the playground when I had to call the office to put out an APB on my little runner, that he came back to me with huge puppy dog eyes, pulled on my skirt and said, “Misses Cider (he could not pronounce my name), I just wanna play.........” Broke my heart then. Breaks my heart still.
Crosby is like that little boy. Teaching four puppies in a big room with lots of smells, playthings, treats, barking, and strangers is like trying to get a 4 year old to sit still at circle time. The first day he excelled. We were astonished. We took pictures. We were so proud. But then they had playtime. And that is all Crosby wanted to do. Play. Romp. Run. Jump. Bark. Learn sit, stay, down, spot? Who needs that? Not him! His behavior was quite wretched. He jumped for treats rather than sit still. He really saw no need to literally run through hoops to please us. He peed on the floor for goodness sakes. I was thoroughly convinced he would be retained and all his puppy dog friends would accept their certificates and his would be delivered with a big red F.
But guess what, just like my little student is now a 5th grader, Crosby is now a graduate of Puppy Obedience Training and Grace and Lilah get the credit. Although I paid for this class, I basically drove the girls and they did all the work. Since this is part of Grace’s Internship/Independent Study I wanted her to learn and practice and perform. And on the last day, graduation day, Crosby, Grace and Lilah performed well. Crosby won the puppy push up competition (how many sit/downs can be done in 20 seconds). He won the Come! competition - run to your owner and sit when called. He ran through hoops and tunnels and sat on a very weird slippery table even when he did not want to. And then when it was all over, he received what he really wanted all along.....play time.