We were rather surprised this week to receive letters requesting that two of our children apply to be student ambassadors for People to People. Granted, at the age of 13, my son is probably catnip for organizations that strive to set students apart on college applications — think of the admission essay he could write on “my summer in Australia representing America” — but, really, my concern is with the nomination letter for my “other” child.
I regret to say that Riker Paluzzi will not be traveling to Australia. You see, he’s dead. Actually, he’s not just dead, he’s ashes. He’s buried under a tree in our front yard, underneath a memorial stone created by my daughter in 2005.
Oh, and he’s not only dead and cremated, he is a dog. Was a dog, I guess I should say.
Granted, Riker was a lovely dog. He was our test child, a yellow Lab who we adopted just months after we married. Riker believed the world was best experienced if it could fit into his mouth, so I can only imagine how he would have loved to travel to Australia to doubtless terrorize wallabys, koalas and kangaroos.
But honestly, while I’d hate to speak ill of the dead, I didn’t trust Riker enough to take him into Pet Smart on a leash — I just can’t see how he’d be an appropriate student ambassador. We’re not talking about one of those Labs who can be trained to lead the blind and tackle drug dealers — this is a dog who flunked out of obedience school, took us for walks rather than the other way around and, I can’t say it enough, he’s very very dead. Trust me. I was there, patting his head, the day he went to sleep for the final time after a battle with lymphoma.
If you could pass the word around, I’d appreciate it. Surely one of the honorary chairman of People to People — either of the George Bushes or Bill Clinton, say — has the pull to get my dead dog off the mailing lists for “parents of potentially college-bound kids who might spend money to set their little darling apart on college application forms.”
Oh, and by the way — my human son won’t be applying. I’m sure you understand.