Doctor Baxter and Nurse Bonnie

I was telling my neighbor, Ellie, and her fourteen-year-old son, Josh, about my upcoming surgery. Ellie said that Josh had to do a certain number of volunteer hours for a school assignment, and that he could help me out with anything I needed done. “Well…I won’t be able to wipe my butt for six weeks…” I said lyingly. Josh continued looking cool, unruffled, maybe a little bored (I see him practicing this look on his way to school each morning).

Unfortunately, Josh knows me too well to believe anything I say. That wasn’t always true. When his family moved here, Josh was nine. One day, he was in the street with his remote controlled car. “Hey, Snow, look at this,” he said as he rolled the car several times. “Dude, I enthused, “that is like SO TOTALLY COOL that I’m going to try it with my van.” Here I got into the van while Josh looked at me in horror (this was before he discovered the importance of looking cool no matter what). “He’s just kidding you, Josh,” Peggy said. Damn kid hasn’t trusted me since. Go figure.

Peggy will be out of town for two weeks out of the five following my surgery. I wouldn’t mind this so much were it not for the dogs. Friends, neighbors, and lodge brothers are always willing to help out, except when it comes to the dogs which, ironically, is what I need help with the most.

My fantasy is that the dogs will help me. Specifically, Bonnie Blue Heeler would act as my nurse since she would look really cute in a starched white uniform and a nurse’s hat. There are only two things against it. One is that post-surgical odors scare the bejesus out of her, making it impossible for me to get anywhere close. The other is that she won’t wear clothes. At a Christmas party one year, Peggy tied a red ribbon around Bonnie’s neck before Bonnie knew what was happening. Bonnie was so humiliated by the ensuing laughter that she ran from the room and wouldn’t let Peggy come near her for hours. Though this happened ten years ago, it thoroughly discouraged us from ever again dressing Bonnie—that and the fact that she has extremely strong jaws and uses violence as a first response to interpersonal conflict.

My other fantasy is that Baxter Black Schnauzer—being a boy and all—would serve as my physician. He would look cute in a white lab coat with one of those round mirror thingy’s on his forehead, and his Nietzsche-like moustache would accentuate his scholarly appearance. Since he will wear clothes, the dress-up part is doable. The downside is that he’s an all-around idiot (Peggy vehemently disagrees with this assessment) and doesn’t exude an iota of the customary doctorly arrogance.

Such considerations make it clear that the dogs will be a liability rather than an asset. All I can think to do is to lock them in the garage for two weeks, and take them a little food if my head should clear sufficiently between doses of Percocet and vodka. Then again, maybe Peggy could tear open a fifty-pound bag of dog food and dump it on the garage floor on her way to the airport. They would immediately eat it all, throw it all up, eat the vomit, throw that up, and so on until her return. With luck, I wouldn’t have to buy another bag of dog food for at least a year, by which time I should be well enough to carry it home.