It is an often referred to excuse, at least in school folklore, that "My dog ate my homework." In 30 years of teaching, I've never heard anyone actually use that excuse, and I suspect is almost always said in jest. I've heard a lot of creative excuses, but never that one.

Thus I'm wondering if, in the history of schools and teaching, there has ever been a teacher who had to tell a student, "My dog ate your homework." I guess the odds are in favor of it, but somehow I think I may well be the first.

I have a relatively new Irish wolfhound puppy that, at the time of this incident, was 17-weeks old, but not old enough to leave at home while I'm teaching, so I brought him to school, along with my older dog, Nina, and put both of them in my office while I taught a 2 PM class and again for my 4 PM class. The students were handing in their first homework assignment, which consisted of six problems and about that many pages. I collected about 26 of them during the 2 PM class and put them in my office before going to my 4 PM class. I also had time to take both dogs outside for a quick break.

When I returned from my 4 PM class, I opened my office door and was confronted with little bits of shredded paper all over the floor. Further investigation revealed it to be one of my student's homework assignments. After piecing parts of it together, I figured out whose homework assignment it was, and sat down to e-mail the student. I explained what happened, and even sent him two photos as evidence of the mishap. (Camera phones are great.) Seeing as my puppy only ate that particular assignment and no other, I figured it must have been good, so I gave the student a 100.