Pet Projects

By Jeanne Marie Laskas
Sunday, November 5, 2006

Obligatory? Important? Ridiculous? These are the judgment calls. Any parent with any competing demands on her time has to make them.

Featured on this month's calendar from my kids' school: The Blessing of the Pets. Wednesday, 12:30 p.m.


Ours is a church-affiliated school, and I'm wondering why they didn't carve the pet gig out of church time. Sunday. The priest could be available to sprinkle holy water onto all willing animals waiting in the parking lot. Or what about after school? A time when I'm up there anyway picking up the kids. Why 12:30 on a Wednesday? That is prime work time. And this is busy season. So many deadlines. So many things pressing down.

Listen, I had a dream last night that I was at a rodeo, and all of the bulls got loose and trampled and trampled me until finally it became apparent that that was just the prelude: After the bulls, came a real, live (for a dream) NUCLEAR BOMB.

Busy season. It's bad right now.

Bull-stomping, nuclear bad. So I don't know about 12:30 on Wednesday for a pet blessing.

Last year I must not have had a conflict, because last year I went to the pet blessing with a chicken. We live on a farm, where it's not weird to see a chicken, but at school, well. The chicken was popular. My daughter Anna, who was in first grade and in her most extreme poultry-loving stage, cradled the chicken tight. All the kids wanted to pet it, wanted a piece of it, but so, unfortunately, did many of the dogs in attendance. Big dogs. I never realized that so many people owned so many very big dogs. Great Danes, mastiffs, Newfoundlands, Saint Bernards -- they were all there, slobbering over that chicken.

To her credit, Anna did a great job shielding her beloved pet, and the chicken kept a brave (I think) face, but afterward -- I mean like, three weeks afterward -- the chicken, which was young, started differentiating into a rooster, started crowing quietly at first, then releasing a full-tilt cock-a-doodle-doo every morning at 4:30, right under my bedroom window, which to an insomniac is pure poison. And I'm not saying I blame the priest or the holy water, but I am saying that that blessing was no real blessing to that rooster, which now resides at my friend Gretta's farm, where she kindly keeps him in a coop situated far, far away from her bedroom window.

Anyway, if I were to go to the blessing of the pets this year, I would bring a whole different species.

Obligatory? Important? I don't really have to go to this thing, do I?

My daughter Sasha walks in and sees me looking through the calendar. She's in kindergarten, so this would be her first pet-blessing year, but I have already decided not to even tell her about it until I decide what to do. "Mom, I have to bring a donkey to school," she announces casually.

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