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Class Pet

August 17, 2012

So it came to my attention today that in the classroom where I will be an assistant this year, there will be a class pet.  Sounds vaguely exciting, right?  Well, it turns out that it’s more than just vaguely exciting.  The class pet is a three-legged bearded dragon named Steve.  (As for the missing leg, apparently he “came that way.”)

I have never actually met Steve, but a quick Google search informed me that he will look something like the picture below, though with three legs instead of four.  (Note the darling beard.)

Also, I have been told, he eats the following creatures on a daily basis:

Now, I have not yet been briefed on all of the duties that my job as an assistant teacher will entail, but doesn’t feeding the bearded dragon sound suspiciously to you like a job that could fall to the assistant?  If I were the teacher, I would definitely make my assistant do it.  I’m hoping rather fervently that the kids will be super-psyched to take on this chore instead of me, and I just know that they will be.  (Please, God.  Please.)

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m sure that I will grow to love Steve as the year unfolds.  But anyone considering getting a class pet should be well aware that a lot of logistical issues must be taken care of before the big purchase: a habitat, feeding, cleaning, teaching proper handling, etc.  But most importantly, what will happen to your class pet over the summer vacation?

Usually, a student (read: that student’s parents) will agree to take the animal over the summer and return it to the teacher at the beginning of the school year.  This works best if the class pet is an animal that is somewhat appealing (e.g. gerbil, goldfish, turtle).  I once went into a sixth grade science classroom where the teacher kept a box full of giant cockroaches as pets.  My guess is that he was the summer caretaker for those class pets, though I could be wrong.

My family once volunteered to take on a class pet over the summer when I was in elementary school, but that is not such a happy story.  My younger sister’s class was very stoked about their new pet hamster, Big Mama.  Big Mama’s cage sat on top of our laundry machine for about a month.  We fed her and cleaned the poop out of her cage and were all around very loving and responsible caretakers.

However, we did not bank on the fact that Big Mama would be a brilliant escape artist.  In spite of all of the duct tape we could muster, she began to chew through her cage and get loose and wander the house freely on a regular basis.  This was unnerving, but she would usually return to her cage eventually.  Until one day, she didn’t.

Those who are faint of heart should probably skip over this next paragraph.  Just this paragraph.  The one after it is fine.  We searched and searched for Big Mama.  We could not find her.  Until one day, an indescribable odor began to permeate our kitchen, and it seemed to be coming from beneath the refrigerator.  My mom and my aunt mercifully kicked all of us kids out of the kitchen and went searching under the fridge, where they found poor Big Mama, whose ghost had long been given up.  (We think she may have chewed some wires, God rest her soul.)

After that, we did not offer to bring home any more class pets over the summer, and the feeling was probably mutual.

Anyway, I apologize for that story, and I will tell you that I have a much better feeling about Steve’s summer caretakers.  I feel that he will return to us hearty, healthy, and ready to eat live crickets out of my bare hands.  Although I might let the kids help me out with that sometimes, as a reward for good behavior.

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From → education, humor

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