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Sometimes The Dog Really Does Eat Your Homework

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Last week, we brought you the story of how the phrase "The Dog Ate My Homework" came to be and how it morphed into a palpably ridiculous excuse. Turns out, sometimes its not an excuse at all. Weekend Edition host Scott Simon has a few stories from our listeners that swear, honest, the dog did eat their homework.


Last week, we tried to trace the origins of that legendary excuse "the dog ate my homework."

FORREST WICKMAN: One of the first examples is this guy. Saint Kieran, who around the fifth century had this fox that he found. And he started taking the fox around and at some point, the fox ate his Psalms.

SIMON: That's Forrest Wickman, a writer for Slate Magazine, who researched one of the most palpably ridiculous phrases of all time. But as many listeners told us, sometimes even ridiculous things can be true. They can happen to you.

JACQUELINE MOSS: My name is Jacqueline Moss, and I'm from Cumberland, Maine. And my dog really did eat my homework.

SIMON: Her beloved Labrador, Dusty, turned out to have a taste for history.

MOSS: When I was in sixth grade, we had to make a project for ancient civilization, and it was a Sumerian brick. I made it, and I left it on the radiator overnight. I came downstairs in the morning, and it had disappeared. And my dog - my Labrador was looking very guilty.

SIMON: But reasonably healthy. As it turns out, the formula her teacher gave her for Sumerian brick, was more like a recipe for a historically big dog biscuit.

MOSS: Yeah, she was fine. (LAUGHTER) There was nothing bad in it. It was just food coloring and flour and oats, salt. (LAUGHTER) So it must have been like, what she dreamed of because it was the size of a loaf of bread, and there was nothing left.

SIMON: Her teacher accepted her excuse. Harry Atwood, a high school English teacher in Dayton, Virginia, says he's heard all sorts of excuses from unprepared students. But one stands out. One day some years ago, he writes, a student came to class with the excuse that his parents had burned his homework. The following day, the local newspaper reported that the boy's family was out for a winter's drive high up in the Allegheny Mountains, and had punctured their gas tank on a rock. Soon out of gas, out of cell phone range and in below-freezing temperatures, the boy's family had used the contents of his backpack to start a fire. Excuse accepted. And finally...

LINDA BECKER: Hi, this is Linda Becker from Williamstown, Massachusetts. My dog ate my students' homework.

SIMON: That wasn't an audio glitch. She explains.

BECKER: I came home from teaching one day, and left my bag on the floor in the kitchen; went about my business. When I returned to the kitchen, my puppy - with his little, needle-like teeth - had pulled some student papers out of my bag, and chewed them up. Imagine the embarrassment of having to tell students, my dog ate your homework.


SIMON: Well, Ms. Becker, I'm sure they'll accept your excuse, just this once.


SIMON: This is NPR News.

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