The Invisible Dog
What happens when you mix a seventh grade geometry class with Eugene Meltsner? Mass incomprehension! Trent DeWhite and Max Hampton’s math teacher is out with influenza, but Eugene has volunteered to take her place. While he is incredibly knowledgeable of the subject, his ability to convey the mountain of information stored in his head is little less than beneficial for the class, with Trent as the only exception. Trent and Eugene enjoy the class immensely, but the rest of the class is finding the “discourse on Euclid’s postulates” to be less than entertaining, let alone helpful. They have a test that Friday, and everyone—except for Trent—fails.
Across town, Connie and Whit are puzzled over the “appearance” of Lester’s imaginary dog, Ralph. They decide to play along until they feel the time to discuss the issue with Lester presents itself, and later learn that Ralph is in Lester's life to comfort him after his friend Mr. Al died. Whit begins to understand Lester's situation, and assures him that even without Mr. Al, Lester has friends who care—even if Ralph isn't there, Lester isn't alone anymore.
Trent, on the other hand, is set on convincing Lester that there really is no dog following him around, not understanding how Ralph can comfort Lester when he doesn't exist. Eventually, Trent convinces Lester that he doesn't need an invisible dog, causing Lester "let Ralph go."
Not long after, however, Trent finds Lester crying over the loss of his dog. The two share some pain as Trent reveals that he once lost a dog, too; Lester listens instead of analyzing him like most would. Trent realizes that he was in the wrong for trying to figure Lester out as though he were a math problem—Lester didn't need factual truth, he needed someone to listen. This leads Trent to suggest to Eugene that perhaps his teaching skills would be more effective if he were to listen more and talk less. As a result, Eugene offers his assistance to the class before they retake the test, allowing them to express what they don't understand so that he can teach them in a way that helps them learn. In the end, Trent and Eugene learn a valuable formula, for math and for life—knowledge without compassion means nothing.
- Why do you think Lester pretended to have a dog?
- Do you think Eugene could've done a better job as a substitute teacher?
- Why do you think Lester finally let Ralph go?
- Do you think Lester will ever have another imaginary dog again in the future?
- Was it disrespectful for Trent to talk to Eugene about teaching the class?
- What would you have done if Lester showed you his *fake* dog??"
Heard in episode
|Max Hampton||Gregg Restivo|
|Trent DeWhite||Corey Padnos|
|Eugene Meltsner||Will Ryan|
|John Whittaker||Paul Herlinger|
|Connie Kendall||Katie Leigh|
Mentioned in episode
|Miss Grapple||Eugene Meltsner|
|Mrs. DeWhite||Trent DeWhite|
|Stephen DeWhite||Trent DeWhite|
|Dr. Hawthorne||John Whittaker|
- Eugene paraphrases 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 when telling his class that having all the knowledge in the world is useless if he doesn't care for others.
- This episode features a cameo appearance from the Last Chance Detectives contest winner, Ben Williams. He can be heard telling Eugene that he's spent class periods explaining the history of the Pythagorean Theorum, instead of how to do the math itself.
Eugene Meltsner: Greetings, fellow scholars and intellectual adventurers!
Max Hampton: Oh, no.
Eugene Meltsner: Due to Ms. Grapple's unfortunate bout with influenza, I, Eugene Meltsner, am offering my services as your very own...substitute teacher!
Eugene Meltsner: I have this awful feeling in the cavity of my gastrointestinal region.
John Whittaker: Uh, you mean the pit of your stomach?
Eugene Meltsner: Precisely—it's the feeling that I let my students down. And the worst part is, I'm not exactly sure what I did wrong!
Trent DeWhite: I've never buried an invisible dog before.
Connie Kendall: Shh, the service is about to start.
John Whittaker: Dear friends, we're gathered here to bury a faithful dog named Ralph. And although we didn't see much of Ralph, we're really here to support a special friend of ours named Lester. Lester, you've shown us all something about compassion. When God gives us compassion for someone we start to see things through their eyes. So Lester, thank you. Thank you for helping us see Ralph.