Homeschooling My Dog… Or Something Like That.

Well, while I’ve been angry over this whole stigmatizing t-shirt business, two developments have been afoot in the Kimchi Latkes household.

First, we pulled Mouse out of school.  I won’t bore you with all of the details but we felt that the issues we had with the school were pretty intractable.  There were issues that were district-related—26 four-and-a-half year olds in a class with ONE teacher.  There were issues that were school related—it seemed like the stress on compliance was going up, not down.  There were issues that were teacher related—despite my best efforts at creating some dialogue with her, she was, well… didn’t seem like a good match, let’s just say that.  On top of these concerns, it became pretty clear that the teacher’s Spanish language skills were not very good.  I’ve got resort-Spanish (I can procure alcohol, order food, and find a bathroom) and even I could tell that her Spanish wasn’t all that fluent. This didn’t help convince us to stick around.  All in all, we decided that no matter how active we got in the school, there were some things about it that would never change.  Not only that, but that it was stuff fundamental to schooling, and it would be somewhat unreasonable for us to ask the school to change in that way.  So we left.  It’s not you, it’s me, baby.

She won’t smile for pictures anymore. Too cool for that, apparently.

There was more, but that’s the gist of it.  When we told Mouse, she seemed relieved.  Girlfriend was tired.  And anxious.  She spent all her time worrying about how to stay on “green”, who wasn’t on green, how one got off green, how one got on purple… It just didn’t bring out the best in her.  She hasn’t said anything about being sad that she’s not at school today, but we’ll see whether she has some delayed reaction. For the meantime, I’ll homeschool her.  In my mind, homeschooling at for her age amounts to a lot of play and social opportunities.  She’s picked up writing her letters and basic math with very little direction from us (in fact, any attempt to direct her has backfired), so I’m trying to follow her lead.  I foresee that our year will be filled with many day trips, homeschool park days, and quite a few craft projects.  Wish me luck.  (No, really.  Please wish me luck, I might suck at this…)

More bones? More playing? I wuv you.

The second thing that happened was that we got a dog.  Yep.  The new Tater is named Gracie.  She’s one year old and I heart her.  If you don’t know me you might not know that I’m generally cool with dogs but have never been crazy about one.  Except this dog.  She’s already very attuned to the household and is showing a surprisingly high level of maturity for a young dog.  Apparently her foster family was forcing her into a crate so she’s deathly afraid of anything wire, including the baby gate we put up to confine her while we’re gone.  That’s a challenge because she needs a place she can go when I can’t supervise her, but she’s incredibly afraid of being locked up or secluded.  Why her foster family thought that was a good idea, I dunno.

Yes, she’s some kind of pit bull.  She’s not the scariest looking (she has a much narrower face and jaw than most pit bulls, she seems like she’s a mix of something else), nor is she the scariest acting by a long shot.  She just seemed like the perfect dog for us so it didn’t matter too much what breed she was or what she looked like.  She’s not a puppy (I can’t be getting up in the night for two dependents!), she’s good with the kids, she’s smart and motivated to please, she’s not too doofy but not too high strung (no offense meant, we just wanted a middle-of-the-road kinda dog), and has short hair.  We wanted a medium/large dog that wasn’t going to shed like a lab or a shepherd.  Shelters around here are full of miniature breeds or pit mixes, so there ya have it.  She’s got great instincts with people, not so much with other dogs.  She’s sort of like that mean girl who is only pretending to be mean in case she doesn’t get invited to the party, ya know?  Yeah, that is a bit too anthropomorphic of me.  She just needs sniff more doggie butts; we’re working on it.

Strangely shaped puppy, I offer you my nose...

Strangely shaped puppy, I offer you my nose…

Gracie and LP are shaping up to be buds.  Gracie seems particularly interested in LP and has already learned to be extra gentle.  She has figured out that LP doesn’t like doggie kisses, so instead she approaches him and offers her nose.  He usually kicks it, and she doesn’t seem to mind at all.

Chipmunk?  Well.  Chipmunk, you see, is afraid of anything that is alive but not human.  Butterflies?  Afraid.  Flies?  Afraid.  Cats, bunnies, or beetles?  Afraid, afraid, afraid.  Still, we wanted a dog and figured she’d get over it with the right dog.  We’ve been pleasantly surprised.  She definitely gets scared if the dog approaches her too fast, but Gracie is pretty sensitive and usually turns right back around when Chipmunk let’s out a yell.  Heck, with the way Chipmunk yells, I’d turn around too.  Ain’t no need to subject yourself to that if ya don’t have to.

Two out of three smiles ain't bad, right?

Two out of three smiles ain’t bad, right?

So those are the mundane happenings around these parts.  I’d love some recommendations for long lasting chew toys and young kid craft ideas/blogs.  Maybe I’ll have the girls make chew toys at home?  Somehow I’m guessing that won’t work out so well…

15 Comments on “Homeschooling My Dog… Or Something Like That.”

  1. Holly says:

    Window stars using “kite” paper, which feels a bit like wax paper & comes in a variety of colors. Pretty sure Hearthsong carries it. I can send you instructions. All the fun/good stuff of origami, but your windows get a gorgeous transformation. My 13-yr-old is currently in an origami phase, has gotten quite good & paper creatures convene in most rooms & my car.

    All research shows that the work of young children is play. Period. Middle schoolers burn out & often stop reading for pleasure after years of all that adult work. I need to write an essay on why I’ve moved mountains for Waldorf. One thing, no homework until grade 3. And even then, it’s not uninspired handouts. Lots of homeschoolers use Waldorf materials & pedagogy. I’m just not a home school mom, per se. I did pull the now college sophomore out of kindergarten when he was miserable and kept him home until first grade when I decided to commute to the Waldorf school. Your evolving situation with Mouse reminds me of that time.

    All my adopted dogs over the years weren’t keen on other dogs. Seems to go hand-in-hand. Gracie is very cute.

    • jisun says:

      Maybe it is the kennel time. We are definitely going to have to work on it, you can almost see the sparks coming out of her head when she sees another dog approaching!

      I’m so heartened to hear from other moms who have gone through this. No matter where we end up over the years, I’ll try to remind myself that there are lots of different parts to take. :)

      • I think it is the kennel time. All the dogs stressed out and barking, not always getting to go out when they need to. I think other dogs = PTSD trigger for pound pups.

        • jisun says:

          I called the shelter today and they said that Gracie was actually one of the more social dogs and had quite a few doggie playmates. What gives? It would have been a bit more honest to explain that leash behavior could be very different from shelter play time behavior. Now I feel a little naïve for having not understood that, but the way they said it definitely glossed over the potential for her to have any doggie issues. Gah.

          • krlr says:

            I’ve adopted a slew of dogs over the years and a lot of them were dog aggressive, especially on leash. Apparently it’s a thing! Who knew? Something about that choking feeling from the leash. This is why dog parks usually have a fenced corral where you unhook them before they get in the mix.

            I’m resisting the temptation to tell you about every shelter dog I’ve ever taken in, all their quirks, and all the various fixes – you can google, you’ve got this. : )

  2. Jenny says:

    Good for you for making that decision and pulling her out if it didn’t feel right. And the fact that she seems relieved shows it was a good decision. And I’m sorry, but 26 four year olds for ONE teacher!!!! That is outrageous! I hate crafts so I don’t have any ideas for ya, lol, and our dogs all live outside so all they get for chew toys are actual bones :)

  3. AK says:

    Welcome to Gracie. She could be Sadie’s cousin or sister. Great breed, great with kids, lousy with other dogs. Sadie was banned from the doggy park for her aggressive attempts to play with other.

    Project? Bake dog biscuits with the kids. Just add water to the mix, mix, roll and cut out with the attached bone-shaped biscuit cutter. Was one of Kaya’s favorites. I’ll ask her about other crafty projects. She baby sits now, so is a pro.

    • jisun says:

      Dog biscuits, great idea! Maybe it’ll satisfy their baking desires since we don’t do it very much, haha. Such is life with no dairy and no wheat, not very many cookies made in this house!

      I didn’t know about that with Sadie being banned! We can’t tell if Gracie’s bad manners are just coming from being anxious/excited, or is true aggression. We’re taking her to a trainer. Yep. Now we are THOSE people!

  4. Miriam says:

    I wish you luck with the homeschooling and the dog :-) Good for you for making that decision for your daughter- I think “tired and anxious” summed up all my years of schooling. I love seeing my kids learn peacefully, without stress.
    Actually, getting a dog seems like a bigger deal to me than homeschooling ;-) My mom is here with her dog and my kids desperately want one, but I’m not really a dog person and it is such a big commitment for someone who isn’t. But at the same time I feel bad for my kids, growing up without pets. I don’t know what to do.

    • jisun says:

      Yep, the dog IS a bigger deal than homeschooling! She’s come with a few more issues than we’d bargained for. I think getting a dog doesn’t have to be a ton of work though. You can get a decently behaved dog who is a few years old, take a training class with the kids and the whole thing could be fairly low maintenance. If the kids are willing to participate in training the dog, it can also be pretty fun and a learning experience. It is definitely a big commitment though, I totally understand why you’d hesitate if you’re not a huge dog person!

  5. Miriam says:

    Oh, and I like this blog for art/craft ideas:

  6. Diane says:

    You will do great homeschooling her. It’s great that you took that leap and pulled her out. Even in Carter’s preschool they have colors and their name gets put on a color each day. They get a piece of candy if they stay on their mat during nap time. One day I picked him up and he was upset because all the kids got candy but not him because he got up. I don’t even like the fact that they give my child candy. Good for you mama for doing what feels right. I still have yet to do the same.

    And…I love the new tater! Way too cute!

    • jisun says:

      Aw, see, that makes me a little bit sad to hear that story! I worry that even when a kid is able to explain why he/she didn’t get candy, I do wonder if the main message is one of exclusion/embarrassment/sadness. I used to work in group homes, and I was a big proponent for taking food-based rewards away, for the very reason you explained. Anyways. Carter seems like such a sweetheart. Tell him he can come to California, I’ll give him as much candy as he wants. Just kidding!

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