Buster goes to kindergarten

Ally Levine—for the North State Journal

This was it. Today was the big day. It was Buster’s first day of puppy kindergarten!He woke up with a stretch and looked around his kennel at his blankie and favorite toy. What would it be like? He had never heard of kindergarten before, but his mom and dad seemed pretty happy to take him there. They said he would make new friends and learn all sorts of new tricks.Buster wasn’t sure about it. For one thing, he wasn’t really ready to give up his free time. All day long he could play when he wanted, take a nap when he was tired, and bark at birds in the window until mom and dad got home from work. Besides, he already had a few friends. Hazel the cat and Letty the pit bull were some of his best buds, but they wouldn’t be there today.When Buster asked them about it last week, Hazel just quietly told him that she was homeschooled. Her parents taught her from home, so she didn’t have to go. And Letty? Since she was older, she would be in a completely different class at school!But, like it or not, Buster had to go to kindergarten. His mom got him a new collar and made him pose by the door for the first day, saying it was a tradition. His dad started the car, and they all climbed in to get there on time.As they pulled into the parking lot Buster looked around at all of the other puppies and families walking into school — he’d never seen so many puppies his own age! Some were curly haired, some had short legs, others barked loudly, and some were running in circles they were so excited. Buster started whimpering from the back seat. What if he didn’t know where to go? Or who was nice? He just wanted to go back home!His mom promised it would be fun and his dad told him to be brave with a pat on the back. They walked with him down the crowded hall to his classroom where the teacher was waiting. She had been a teacher for years and didn’t seem to know what it was like to be a puppy. She gave him a firm look and said to sit down. Buster was scared … so scared that he had a little accident right then and there.Oh no! How embarrassing! He turned his nose toward the floor and backed away from the mess. He kept backing up until he bumped right into a beagle puppy named Bogey! Oops!Bogey immediately gave a friendly bark and wagged his tail at Buster. So Buster grinned and jumped toward him. Maybe this was one of the new friends mom was talking about! Buster was ready to play right away and wanted to get to know Bogey.The teacher quickly put a stop to that. She explained that there would be time to play later, but first she needed to go over the classroom rules and teach her lesson. The rules were:• Be kind to others• Pay attention to the teacher• Obey your parents• No jumping on the furnitureThen she started teaching the lesson, which was all about how to act calmly and politely to other humans and dogs. She said playtime was the best time to run around and get all your energy out. But then she showed the class the calm tricks they could do like high-five and army crawl.Buster loved learning how to high-five! He thought it was just the coolest thing ever!At the end of the day his teacher gave him a treat and a hug. So maybe school wasn’t so bad after all. He came, he learned, and he was ready to go home. He hopped in the car and happily started gnawing on his new bone. Then his mom said the craziest thing: “Are you excited to go back again tomorrow, Buster?”What!? Buster thought this was just a one-time thing. He couldn’t believe he had to do it all over again. But then he sat back and remembered all of the good parts of the day. He made a new friend, learned something, and even had some fun.