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The Real Teacher’s Pets

When was the last time you heard a dog bark or a cat meow during a Teams meeting? The odds are, it wasn’t too long ago. Many of our teachers have pets of their own and keeping them quiet during class can be a hassle. Oftentimes, these animals have to be dragged out of the […]

When was the last time you heard a dog bark or a cat meow during a Teams meeting? The odds are, it wasn’t too long ago. Many of our teachers have pets of their own and keeping them quiet during class can be a hassle. Oftentimes, these animals have to be dragged out of the room before lessons can continue. Interested in the stories behind these interruptions, I sought out and found four CB teachers with (noisy) animals.

Religious studies instructor Mrs. Jennifer Lystrup has two cats, Coco and Stella, who tend to stay on the calmer side. Staying home with them more often during virtual learning, Mrs. Lystrup has noticed their own routine.

“They eat, they sleep, and occasionally play. They’re very independent and it’s been fun to be home with them,” she explained. “I love my cats.”

Though Coco and Stella may not bother any of her Social Justice classes, Mrs. Lystrup has had to deal with a few of their mishaps on her own time. 

Working on a watercolor painting, she was waiting for a layer to dry when suddenly Coco jumped on her progress.

“So now I have kitty paws everywhere, and now I need to redo the wash,” Mrs. Lystrup laughed..

Luckily, she doesn’t find these disturbances annoying and still adores her cats. Her cats, named after fashion designers Coco Chanel and Stella McCartney, are great friends and are lovely to have around to keep her company.

On the flipside, math teacher Mrs. Lorie Frias’ cats do not always get along. 

During a math lesson, she was answering questions and talking to her students when suddenly her cats began roughhousing.

“They ended up under my desk in a full fledged cat fight. Knocked over my garbage cans — there’s trash all over the floor — and my kids are just sitting there wondering what’s going on,” Mrs. Frias described.

Although fights like that aren’t an everyday occurrence, Mrs. Frias’ cats are continually disruptive and love to get her attention. One of them has actually learned to open doors, barging in whenever he pleases. Her dogs are comparatively calmer and tend to be more independent. 

But when the time comes that her pets do disturb her working, she doesn’t do much to stop them for a very interesting reason.

“Math online is pretty dull,” she said laughing. “Our classes are usually spent working, so anything that will get them to interact with me, I just let happen.”

With louder pets, like barking dogs, the noise can be much harder for teachers to manage. Especially for inside dogs, it can be hard teaching with an active pet. Science teacher Mrs. Holly Keller has found a few ways to prevent her dog Dora, aka the Beast, from disturbing her lessons. One thing that has worked for her was getting a silicone dog mat and peanut butter to keep Dora busy.

 “It takes her about 30 minutes to finish off one of those, and then she gets right back at it,” Mrs. Keller says.

Since the beginning of our virtual lessons in March, Mrs. Keller and Dora have had a lot of time to bond while staying at home. It took them almost a month to get adjusted to suddenly being together almost all day everyday. Other teachers have mentioned a closer relationship to their dogs and cats after COVID struck.

But what about the teachers who don’t own a dog or cat?

Math teacher Mrs. Annette Romani raises chickens, and they started laying eggs during the first months of the pandemic. And for those who don’t know, chickens can get very loud the first time they lay eggs. So instead of a barking dog, or fighting cats, her students were interrupted by lots of clucking.

“At first, they’re just squawking all the time like, ‘Wait — what’s happening?’” Mrs. Romani said.

Thankfully, the chickens now lay eggs in the early morning and don’t interrupt any math classes. Though they do love to run around the yard, so someone does need to be outside with them to watch for aggressive neighboring cats or even hawks. But when lessons are fully virtual, it becomes a non-issue since Mrs. Romani will be home to take care of them.

Although raising animals and managing disruptive pets may seem like an unnecessary burden, every teacher I spoke to was in agreement over the pros of being a pet owner. Especially now that staying home is more important than ever, having any kind of pet can help with some of the boredom and loneliness of working from home.

“It’s nice to have some companions in here,” Mrs. Frias said. “The great thing is, I can talk to them and they don’t even talk back, nothing like students!”

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