by David Lubar
Seventh grade seems sort of old for Pet Day, but I have the greatest dog in the
world, so I figured I'd bring him. Roy was fine being around other animals, even
after we walked into my first-period math class and saw the tiger lying next to Mr.
Stockton's desk. At first, I thought it was fake. Mr. Stockton is a bit of a joker. But
then I noticed that the tiger's flanks were moving slowly with each breath. As I
said, Roy was fine -- but I could feel myself tense up a bit.
"She's safe," Mr. Stockton said. "She just had a big meal. Sheeba won't want to do
anything except nap for a while."
"Okay . . ." I pulled back on the leash as Roy tried to get close enough to sniff the
"You're just a big kitty, aren't you?" Mr. Stockton said. He knelt down and ruffled
the tiger's head. "Who's my sweet girl? Who's my little biddle kitty-iddle."
I led Roy over to my seat in the second row. I was the first one there, which meant
I got to watch the rest of the class come in. It was pretty much a three-step process.
Step one: walk in, all proud of your pet -- whether it was a cat, a rat, or a
salamander -- and all ready to get attention. Step two: freeze, then stare in
disbelief at Sheeba, possibly leaving your mouth open long enough for a bit of
drool to form and dangle. Step three: chase your fleeing pet down the hall while
groaning at the pain of having claws, teeth, beaks, or pincers break your flesh.
Eventually, we all got seated. Mr. Stockton started the lesson. Nobody paid much
attention. Everyone stared at Sheeba. But, like he'd said, she seemed happy to nap.
And I think there's some expression about letting sleeping tigers lie. If not, there
should be. We hadn't gone more than ten minutes into the period when Duncan
Imberson, who sat dead center in the front row, leaned forward and dangled his
hamster cage in Sheeba's face.
"Want a snack?" he asked. "Yummmm. It's hamsterific."
"Stop that, Duncan," Mr. Stockton said.
I didn't think it was very funny. The hamster was terrified, and had nowhere to
A minute or two later, Duncan dangled the hamster again. "Mmmmm. Crunchy
and chewy," he said.
"Duncan, please stop doing that," Mr. Stockton said.
Of course, Duncan didn't stop. But after the fifth or six time he dangled his
hamster, Mr. Stockton took away the cage and put it on his desk. "You can have
your pet back at the end of the period," he said.
Duncan kept quiet for about five minutes. Then he grabbed Sylvia Baldwin's bird
cage and tried to dangle that in front of Sheeba.
Sylvia snatched the cage away from him and moved to a different seat.
When the bell rang, Roy, who'd been lying patiently by the side of my desk, got
up, looked at me, and panted. "Let's get you some water," I said. As I headed out
of class, I saw Duncan walk to Mr. Stockton's desk and reach toward the hamster
Mr. Stockton put his hand on the cage and said, "I think I changed my mind.
Sheeba's probably hungry by now. Maybe we should give her a snack. Maybe that
will teach you a lesson."
I was sort of interested in seeing how this turned out. But Roy was tugging at the
leash, and I knew he was thirsty. Besides -- Mr. Stockton was just bluffing. He
was too much of a softie to ever sacrifice a hamster. So I headed down the hall to
get Roy's water bowl from my locker.
The rest of the day was a lot of fun. Everyone had a great time, and Roy got a tons
of compliments, both for his behavior and his appearance. I guess seventh grade
isn't too old for Pet Day.
The next day was pretty much back to normal. No pets. Well, there was one pet.
Duncan's hamster. It was in its cage on a table at the back of Mr. Stockton's
classroom. That was a relief, because I didn't think it would be fair to use the
hamster for a snack, even if Sheeba was a pretty cool looking tiger. Speaking of
Sheeba, there was no sign of her.
It was a couple days later that I realized there was no sign of Duncan, either. Not
then. Not ever. So maybe Sheeba had gotten a snack after all.