Trip Start Jan 10, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Costa Rica  ,
Wednesday, August 22, 2007

I have a great job. Every day I am showered with little gifts from my students - candy, flowers, stickers, drawings. It's great. I always feel loved. But the other day one of my first grade girls comes in and hands me a little puppy. I exclaim how cute it is, as I always do when handed such random things as baby brothers and sisters, stuffed animals, and real animals. But this time when I started to give back the squirmy little thing, Angie shook her head and said that no, this was a present. Oh, for the day ? No, Angie giggled, it's a present. It's for you. Oh...OH ! Oh my God ! She meant that she had just given me dog. A little squirmy puppy. Yeessss, Angie said in a voice that said wondered at how dense teacher could be, and skipped off to class.

Now, I love dogs, I'm an animal lover all around actually, but who gives a DOG to their teacher as a present? I mean, it was a cute little dog...with big brown eyes...and a excitedly wagging little tail...and you know, it would be nice to have a dog. I had images of this little tiny bundle of happy energy greeting me at my door as I come home from work, of taking her back to the states with me and having a real live pet of my own. It would be nice. Oh, and I'd get her a collar and cute little bowls for water and food and a cute little leash. And for about five seconds I really loved this vision of myself as a pet owner. And then I thought a little harder about cute little trips to the vet to get her shots, cute little chewed up balls of leather that were once my shoes, cute little bags of poop dangling from my wrist after walking her around the block. Suddenly everything wasnīt so cute anymore. Yeah, maybe having an actual house of my own would be a better first step...and then maybe a job...and then a plant of some sort. Something that doesnīt poop.

And then my fourth graders walked in. Why is it that my fourth grade class always ends up discussing my personal life more than their new English vocab? A dog! Can I hold it? Whose is it? Um, I guess mine. Whatīs its name? Ummmmm. Then Kervin, upon closer examination, squinched up his face in disgust as he noted the gum stuck to the dog's butt. I guess she had sat on it somewhere. Chiclet! Her name is Chiclet! Now get me some scissors so that I can cut this out.

The day passed with Chiclet laying at my feet, cutely sleeping the day away, while my kids one by one fell in love with her. Everyone wanted to hold her, everyone wanted to take her home. Everyone wanted her...except Nena who believed two dogs were enough, especially when I was leaving in a couple months. This was no goldfish. So, it was with more than a little relief that I started to search for a home for Chiclet. Immediately claims were made, mothers frantically called. Piece of cake, I thought. Little Chiclet will have a home before the school day's out. And then, with a squeal, one of my fifth graders said that magic word - PULGAS !!!!! Yet another random Spanish word that I would have liked not knowing - FLEAS!!! Chiclet was infested. Hardcore.

Someone was immediately dispatched to get some flea shampoo as I held Chiclet in the air, trying to touch her as little as possible while already feeling the itching with bites I was sure already covered my body. When the shampoo was brought, me and about six of my 5th and 6th grade girls immediately ran Chiclet to the school sink and began the wash. I donīt think Iīve ever been so grossed out in my life. As soon as Chiclet hit the water, she started howling, and the fleas started crawling. I had never realized that they were such big bugs. I was envisioning tic-like thingies. But no, these were huge and all over her. It took us three shampoos to kill them all, and I wonīt go into details, but de-fleaing a dog (or anything) is something that I hope I never have to do again. Washing my hands with disinfectant, I left Chiclet with my girls and ran to the kinder room to teach my last class of the day. When I got back, the calls to the mothers had been made and the answer was a resounding NO. No one wanted a girl dog and the resulting puppies. So, with my new little buddle of joy in one hand and a bag of dog food bought at the pulperia in the other, I headed home. Looks like itīs just you and me, Chiclet, honey.

That night I set Chiclet up in a box with a blanket inside and a little plastic bowl of food. She had slept all day, so I just assumed she would sleep all night as well. Ummm, wrong. I quickly realized that a baby dog is not all that different from a baby human. They wake up every hour crying, especially if they had already slept the whole day. So there I was at 11 pm, 1 am, and 3 am talking to Chiclet, cuddling Chiclet, trying to lure her back into her box and off my bed (which she had cunningly figured out how to get on to by way of my suitcase at the foot). Finally, giving up and in desperate need of sleep, I gave in and let my little baby sleep at my feet. I just hoped that she wouldnīt pee or something gross like that.

The next morning I awoke to a strange smell in my room. I didnīt even want to look around and see what was causing it. But finally I roused myself and there, in two neat little piles under my desk was caca de Chiclet. Oh, how nice. What a way to wake up. I found some bags, and scooped the little turds up to be deposited in the trash. Now let me explain something here. I do NOT like picking up dog shit. In fact, I have never picked it up before. I have been known to go on a walk with my dog at home, bag in hand, praying that he will not pop a squat. And when he does, I have been known to stop my dad driving by in his car to do the honors for me. So the fact that I picked up this poop is a major thing. VERY major! After a cleansing shower and a quick breakfast, I packed Chiclet in her box, grabbed the bag of dog food, and vowed that though I really did love my little Chiclet, we were not going home that day without finding this little girl a home. Someone else can pick up her poop from now on.

And of course, once again, Sandra comes to my rescue. Monsi, totally and utterly in love with Chiclet, used her only child/princess status to get her mother to allow her to keep Chiclet. And so I gladly handed over the box and food and wished her luck. I still have visitation rights and Chiclet, now the most beloved dog in La Estrella is the new school mascot, frequenting my classroom often.

What have I learned from the Chiclet Saga? Well, for starters, I now understand why mothers are always saying NO! to dogs that their children want to bring home. But I also have come to realize that while I am 24 years old and I do have an adult type job, that I am not NEARLY ready for the responsibility of owning a dog. Someday maybe, but for now they fall into the baby category of nice to play with, love to be around them, but love it even more when I can give them back!
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dadofdivaboots on

soooo funny... a total understatement, Lacey. This could be the first chapter of your Great Costa Rican Novel. A masterpiece...Chiclet will go down in history, I am, as the most talked about puppy in La Esterella if not in the world!

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