Baxter has a bad morning. Peggy does too.

Baxter awakened this morning with a limp. I thought his foot might have gone to sleep, but Peggy said she had never heard of this happening to a dog. I touched him all over without finding any swollen or painful spots. Then I did range of motion tests, still without result. Peggy sat at a distance looking pale. She said she must have rolled over on him in her sleep and dislocated his hip.

My next guess was that he might have strained a muscle. Peggy’s next guess was that he had distemper. She asked me to describe distemper. I said I didn’t know anything about it, but I thought it might resemble the flu. She said she couldn’t bear it if Baxter died. I pointed out that he was alert and hungry. She countered that he was trembling, moaning, and stiff. I reminded her that just watching a cat cross the street from a block away causes Baxter to tremble and moan. I suggested that we take him outdoors to see if he felt better after he limbered up. Peggy said he was cold, like he was dying. I said he felt fine to me. I took him outside, and he was soon normal.

Peggy has worked in ERs, ICUs, CCUs, ante-partum, and labor and delivery. For years, she was the only night shift RN in a 105-bed hospital. I have seen her be the calmest, most caring, and most competent nurse in the world at the scene of bloody accidents, and I have read the accolades of her peers. If she freaked out at work the way she does every time one of her dogs sneezes, she would be like the nurses in old movies who screamed and threw trays of food into the air every time they walked in on a dead man.