Chillin' with some 1st grade friends

The question I get most about Cisco and his school-dog work is, “What does a school dog do?” What is most interesting about this question is the fact that the answer seems to change every day. Well, not really change but rather become more clear! Cisco works in ways that defy definition, ways that are so subtle and undetectable that they can go completely unnoticed. Although he punches a clock (because his work is done in a very “human” manner) he doesn’t really fit into any job description. I think the best way to explain his work is to walk you through a normal day for Cisco. Now those of you that work in a school, you know that “normal” is completely subjective and there is rarely a “normal” day!

We rise and shine at about 5 am. Cisco exits his crate with a smile and more joy than I can handle most mornings. He quickly reminds you that it is time to eat because after all, he is a lab and his life revolves around food! He plays with his toys while I choke down a much needed cup of coffee. We then wander upstair to “get ready”. Cisco waits for me to finish my shower and dressing by patiently lying on the rug in the bathroom. His placement means that I have to step over him about 400 times before I say, “OK, are you ready?” which is his cue to run downstairs and sit by the hook that hold his leash and uniform (a stylish bowtie or bandana). When the bandana slips over his head he clicks in to “working” mode. Then we are off to start another day with a quick jump into the back of the car!

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Once we arrive at school we park about a block and a half away so that Cisco can do all his doggie business before we get to campus. Once we cross the street and enter the school campus our pace slows to a crawl because everyone wants to say good morning to Cisco and Cisco wants to say good morning to EVERYONE! Once we get in the front door Cisco knows what he wants to do. He quietly comes along while I check the message board and my teacher box, giving every adult he comes across a loving “good morning”. Then we head to the 3rd floor and he really gets to work. At the top of the stairs I slip off his leash and open the door. He trotts down the hall looking in to each classroom, sometimes stopping to check out what is going on but his main objective is to get around the corner and to one of the middle school Language Arts rooms. This classroom serves as the meeting place for a group of boys. They come in early to work with the teacher and have some good “guy time” before the official school day begins and Cisco LOVES this daily “guy time” meeting. He gives me a quick look then dips in to cheers from the boys! Cheers that include “Cisco!” and “Cisco is here, pick up your lunch boxes!” The door clicks shut and the boys PLAY!! I head on down the hall to my classroom and can hear laughter and barking, really I can hear joy pouring from the room at the ripe hour of 7:30 am! At about 7:50, he heads to my (HIS) classroom followed by a few young men who never fail to say “Thanks Ms. Rankey!”. Cisco grabs a quick drink then greets the members of the Rankey Koinonia (my advisory group consisting of 11 6th through 8th grade students). At about 8:10, Cisco bids them farewell and settles in the corner of the hallway, greeting all the middle school students headed to their first class.

As you can see, Cisco is a busy boy since this is just the beginning of each day! I must confess that as I actually write down the activities of his day I am impressed with his work ethic and understand why he is so tired when he gets home! I feel confident that these morning times are some of his favorite throughout the day and I feel confident that his presence for some of those middle school students is more important than even they know. Here is the cool thing about Cisco, he doesn’t care what you look like, what brand shoes you are wearing or who your friends are, he just cares about you. This is exactly what every middle school student needs to kick off each day and I am humbled that I get to stand next to him while he “works” for the students.

Since we are only to about 8:15 am, I will save the rest of his day for another post! But know this, each day he does work that no human can do. He quells anxiety in a way that simply amazes me, he settles a room with ease and breaks tension like no other. He knows when to play and when to settle with little direction from me and he reminds me that sometimes you just need to relax and take a deep breath! Until next time, keep your tail wagging and smile!

~Jen and Cisco

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