xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' The Font of Noelage: Going to the Dogs

Friday, 28 September 2012

Going to the Dogs

It is well known that  school principals are often confronted with unusual and bizarre situations.
One morning four parents entered my office before school and their leader said gruffly, “What are you going to do about the school’s dog problem?” 
“What am I going to do about the school’s dog problem?” I slowly repeated. I often used this ploy as a delaying tactic to give my brain a chance to tune in.

“Yes, what are you going to do?”

“Well, I must say I haven’t actually seen any dogs around the school.” My good old brain had kicked in pretty quickly on this one. 

“No, not when you’re here in school time. But every morning between six and seven thirty about four or five cars drive up to the school oval. The owners let their dogs out to run around. Then, after they have done their dirty business on the grass, the owners call them back into the cars and they drive away.”

“Yes,” added another parent, “ and later on in the day our kids go out to daily phys. ed or playtime and get dog dirt all over their shoes. It’s disgusting.”

“And other people do the same thing with their dogs after five o’clock at night. What are you going to do about it?”

“Hmmm” I said as sagely as I could, waiting anxiously for my good old brain to get a handle on the problem. Unfortunately my brain just kept telling me that unless I camped  out on the oval all night I was not likely to come face to face with the dog menace. My brain kept saying, “Handball this one as quickly as you can.”

I leaned across my desk and said as decisively as I could, “ This is a public health problem. It is against the law to allow dogs on to school property. I’ll contact the local shire and get the Ranger to issue on the spot fines.” My brain gave me a round of applause. The four parents didn’t. They did nod slightly as they left my office. I rang the Ranger and told him of the dog problem.

“No worries, mate. We’ll be around straight away. Do you have the dogs tied up?”

“No. The owners bring the dogs to school before 7 a.m. and after five at night.”

“Sorry, pal. We only work eight till five each day. Can’t help you, I’m afraid.”

The next day the parents were back and not too happy with my news.

“I’ll get the local shire to put up some ‘No Dogs’ signs I said. The parents left. This time they didn’t nod.

About a week later the local shire erected six ‘No Dogs” signs around the school. That weekend some galoot in a four wheel drive knocked them down and took the signs as souvenirs. The parents came back. Very unimpressed. Their heads were not nodding but they were beginning to shake all over.

"What are you going to do about the school’s dog problem?” My brain was ready for them. More handball.

“I’m going to write a letter explaining the penalties and arrange a letter drop throughout the district.”
The next day they were back wanting to see the letter.

“Well, actually” I beamed,  “I thought instead of a negative  and nasty letter about penalties I’d  appeal to their better nature. I think it is better to be positive and try and inject a little humour into the situation. So I’ve written this poem instead. I think people will get the message.”

The parent leader looked grimly at me. “Humour!  Humour! This is not funny. We do not need humour. We need action. Show us the poem.”

This is what she read:

Our school grounds would be much neater                       Oh! Could some law be quickly passed
without vast piles of dog excreta.                                      To leave our ovals merely grassed.....
Dog is man’s  best friend it’s true,                                     Not dotted with dollops of smelliness
But no one says the same of the doggie’s poo.                  That cause in young children much unwelliness

At recess our children rush out to play                              For their canine’s misdemeanours
Leaping over doggie droppings on their way.                   Dog owners themselves should be the cleaners,
The children play chasey and drop the hankey                 Removing deposits from knoll and crag
But the dog’s smelly litter is making them cranky.             And placing the doings in a doggy bag.

“Our school’s not a doggie loo,” they shout                     For until the dogs - both leashed and stray
As they cast their eyes around and about.                         Are prevented from littering in this foul way
The sight and the smell is cause for coma...                       It seems our school grounds will forever be
Poor noses invaded by pungent aroma                               Just one enormous dog lavatory.

Our school has become a doggy toilet.
How can dog owners let them soil it?
Our gardens and ovals are splendid grounds
Made unpleasant by incontinent hounds.

 This is not poetry!” she snarled and threw the poem onto my desk.
“It isn’t” I queried.
“No. It is just a lot of doggerel.”
Despite these critical comments about my poem I published it in the school newsletter and in the local paper.
Fortunately, we had a parent who was in the police traffic branch. He told me he may be able to help.
I managed to get the parent delegation to obtain the car registration numbers of the offending dog owners’ vehicles. The parent policeman traced them on the police computer and I wrote them a very stern note about council by laws and on the spot fines.
Soon afterwards the morning and afternoon dog visits stopped.
Ah yes, I really enjoyed being a school principal. Sometimes, though, it can be a dog’s life.

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