my response to their note...

Good Morning-
here is a coffee induced rant about the dog situation at John Eaton...

We must think of the individuals and we must think of the community.
What is best for the individuals and what is best for the community?
What are rational requests?

Last week a note was sent out with our children "requesting" that people no longer bring their dogs to drop off or pick up. There was mention of "pet allergies and student safety."

Well, I am all for student safety!

Student safety is a primary concern, but honestly... I feel that the benefits outweigh the risks. There are always the potential "what ifs." But, to remove the pets from the equation is not the appropriate course of action. Common sense and common courtesy should dictate the pet owner's behavior. Not some irrational totalitarian request that lacks proper insight into the situation. If a person owns a dog that is not good with children, crowds, or even other dogs... well... then that dog owner should consider if it is appropriate to bring that dog to pick up or drop off.

Although I do not bring my dog to drop off and pick up everyday, I have found that when I do bring my dog to school a multitude of children gravitate to him and pet him. The children look forward to spending time with our family dog, Didg. My dog is part of my family. My family is part of the John Eaton community. These children have their one mini-relationship with my dog. Some of these children have dogs at home while other children may have this as one of their only opportunities to connect with a dog.  I am patient with the children who approach my dog. Always trying to assist the children in better understanding on how to approach a strange\unfamiliar dog.

As far as allergies are concerned... that has to be one of the most flimsy excuses for trying to back an argument that I have heard in years. To ask people to not bring a dog to pick up or drop off on the off chance that the pet may effect a person's allergies is about as rational as putting a ban on all perfumes and colognes on parents and students on the Eaton campus due to the risk of adverse allergic reactions. Give me a break.

Yes, we want the people in the John Eaton to be safe. We do not want to do anything that puts people at risk. But, are the dogs really public enemy number one? What about car traffic? I attempted to work with the principal on the issue of parking and car behavior around the school. I got no assistance. But now... someone complains about dogs and there is this course of action? Come on... a few years ago a John Eaton student was hit by a car not far from the school campus. Was there a ban on cars at John Eaton after that? NO! There was not even a change in car driving behavior after that.

I get it. Not everyone is a "dog person." In fact, some people are scared of dogs. Beyond that, some people are irrationally scared of dogs to a near phobic state. Where the dog evokes irrational and inappropriate behavior. Rather than enabling this irrational behavior. We could aid in educating this child and maybe this child's family on appropriate behavior around dog. Give this family an opportunity to better understand dog behavior and how humans need to behave around dogs. Rather than perpetuating a cycle of inappropriate behavior around dogs being passed down from parent to child.

This notion of understanding that not everyone knows how to behave around dogs is nothing new to me. When I first got this dog I took him as a puppy to each of my son's John Eaton classrooms. I introduced all the children to the dog and then we had a discussion about appropriate behavior around dogs. Then years ago, when I first started at John Eaton I had attempted to do the same thing, but was turned down. There was the quick response about "pet allergies and safety." Then later that year we had an end of the school year party to celebrate the birthdays that happen in the summer. The gathering was at my house in Mount Pleasant.  I would estimate that more than half the children spent the entire party hovering over the dogs. Mauling the dogs with love and affection. With no allergic responses and nothing that put the children at risk.

The concept of school and education goes beyond reading and writing. We try to educate our children on proper behavior. This is an opportunity for the school and the school community to aid in educating the children of the community on how to appropriately behave around dogs. By removing the dogs we are perpetuating inappropriate behavior. We are also focusing on a "non-problem."

I doubt anyone has read this far...
This message is so long that even I have lost focus.
So I will close with this...

I am going to ignore this request.

I feel that the request is unfair and its reasoning is unfounded.

Many of the people who bring their dogs to school at pick up or drop off use this time as an opportunity to walk their dog. It is a time for their family to interact. Leaving the dog at home because there is the off chance that a person, child, or family is uncomfortable around dogs? It is illogical and unfair. In my mind it is enabling an irrational behavior. It is thinking of an individual rather than the whole community.

If we are really concerned with the safety of the John Eaton community we can focus on a danger that is real and present. The car behavior around campus.

The illegally parked cars and the double parked cars are a simple place to start. The car chaos around the school campus is something that puts our children at risk.

In an effort not to go any longer with this email I will refrain from any car chaos diatribe.

My recommendation... send out another message...
Tell people that they are allowed to bring their dogs to school,  but they need to try to keep their dogs in control. That would be a good start. But this ban on dogs. Well, I have never felt more distant to the John Eaton community as I feel now.
And I consider myself to be an involved parent.

Joel Gwadz
father to 3rd Grader Grant Gwadz
and of course... a dog owner


Mike said...

sorry to say. you're wrong on this. just because you have a good dog, keep your dog on a leash and pick up after your dog, you aren't proxy for every dog owner out there. schools need to err on the side of safety.

gwadzilla said...

here is a less than pleasant, almost threatening response to my note to the parents of my children's school


I am replying to your rant directly because I feel it is better to confront pure ignorance in private. While I appreciate the fact that you are a dog owner and lover, I am not. I do not display irrational behavior nor fear around animals. I simply do not like animals. I grow up in a family where each and every member in our home was an owner a pet at some point in my formative years. I did not. My parents were rational and smart enough to understand that I did not, and never will like animals.

How dare you insinuate that any person who has a phobia is irrational! Would you tell a rape victim that their fears are irrational? Many people with dog fears have been attacked by animals. How about you try being sensitive to their feelings? You love your dog. Others do not have to love your animal!

As far as allergies are concerned you selfish jerk, my child, who is the most precious and HUMAN part of my family has SEVERE, life threatening animal allergies! Because I am a rational adult, I knew it would be completely irrational and selfish of me to request that all the children get rid of their pets, in each and every classroom in which she would sit for all of her academic career. I have had to subject my child to immunological therapy for the past 4 years. These injections at one time occurred every day and will continue for next 3-5 years because her allergies are so severe. Those with allergies to the scents of some fragrances may resort to the same if they can isolate the specific allergen. Regardless of the fact it is difficult to avoid fragrances if you have an allergy to them, my child should not be put at any additional risk that can be avoided by keeping your pet away a from SCHOOL, designed to educate CHILDREN, not animals!

I wish I would run into you at school during drop off or pick up. And I wish even more that your dog would approach me, jump on me, or sniff at me. Oh how I wish…

A simple request was made in the best interest of everyone in the Eaton community. Try to respect it!

name removed
parent of student

Blackdogs said...

"I wish I would run into you at school during drop off or pick up. And I wish even more that your dog would approach me, jump on me, or sniff at me. Oh how I wish…"

I find this comment so disturbing. I rescued Didg from a high kill shelter, dumped with his siblings as little babies. Wet and shivering and so pathetic and in need of help. So many sleepless nights nursing these little ones back to health and praying they would make it.

When they were healthy, I spent hours with them, handling them, tugging on them, teaching them to mind their manners in all situations and preparing them for a long happy life as good citizens. They fell asleep to fairy tales and experienced a world of love to make up for the cruelty and neglect of society.

When I was confident that they were stable and mentally healthy individuals, the search for homes began and Didg and his siblings all found their happy endings with loving families. All three have stellar records for behavior.

It makes my heart sick to think that any person would wish Didg ill after all he has gone through in his young life. He has survived against incredible odds. He certainly never deserved the neglect and cruelty and he certainly doesn't deserve any ill will.

fatbob29r said...

haha... I too would love for the parent of "bubble girl" to run into you at pick up/drop off... once they realized you're not a delicate flower, I'm certain their attitude would change.

Raymo853 said...

Mike from 10/08/2012 captured my thoughts tersely. Sorry but the far majority of dogs are not pleasant to be around for the non-owners.

gwadzilla said...

it is about fascism... it is about totalitarianism...

it is not about how cute my dog is and that my dog will not bite anyone...

I can not claim that my dog will not bite you any more than you can claim that you will never get into a car accident

GinaS said...

Many, many thoughts on this issue. Children need to learn how to approach a new/strange do, you are providing that. Dogs are part of the family and should be included. The benefits of pet presence is proven at hospitals and offices. If "name removed" doesn't like pets then they shouldn't look. As long as you are not allowing your dog to misbehave they have NO right to complain. Their "threat" about wishing they would run into you merely shows their egocentric, paranoid selfishness.

If their child has severe allergies then perhaps no dogs inside the building is justified, but what happens when an assistance animal is needed by another? (I'm ROFL)
Outside of school, on public property, in the OPEN air they have NO right to stop you, or even complain.