This was Cha Kwanza, my little Cocker Spaniel from a long time ago who loved to sing along.
Roo is mighty peeved by Republican voter suppression laws ready to come into effect in the next election cycle in her new home state of North Carolina. What do you expect? She's convinced that those rules are only designed to keep voters like her away from the polls. Granted, like half of American voters, Roo has many conservative values. She can't help believing that if growing up without access to education was good enough for her, it should be good enough for everybody. Health care? Her teeth were black at the age of eight months. Didn't she pick herself up by the bootstraps and turn them white again, through diligent, dedicated bone chewing? Potholes in the street? The sign of a healthy mouse-digging economy, nothing more.
Nonetheless. Though the author Roy Blount has correctly observed, "All dogs are Southerners," this time Roo made her (possibly last) vote count and went for the straight Dem ticket.
A friend forwarded these pictures of a Golden Retriever who works for the Kathmandu Police Department. She is receiving Hindu blessings. In the photos following, Orville receives the same blessings. He might be the only American dog on record to have been thusly blessed. I am glad that he was not as roundly doused with the rato powder as Officer Roo's Cousin, because it takes about a month to fade.
As you can see, though dogs put up with receiving blessings of this type, they would would prefer to be off chasing the elusive Tibetan Night Squirrel. It looks like Orville and his colleague react identically to the administration and aftermath.
By the way, Orville's Nepali name was Ram Bahadur. He was given that moniker by an old lady one day, who said that, being so healthy and big he must have been, well, shall we say, a powerful lothario...? Ranking only beneath the King, Orville became the second most famous personage in Nepal, primarily for his ability to count to nine and then retrieve as many sticks as he had counted from a treacherous lake while eagles swooped down to peck at his head. In conjunction with the fact that animals born with white skin or fur are considered holy, Orville had it made in Nepal.
First the good news.
It begins with the fact that I have a friend good enough to have flown across the country from California to North Carolina to take care of me for a couple of days. A doctor, no less. Having a friend like that? Pretty good news.
Next was the quality of the care at St. Joseph's Hospital in Asheville. Everything was top-notch. I am using the word "everything" with great precision here. We were told to take a seat; before we picked one we were called to the desk.
When I asked the lady checking us in how she was doing, she said, "Finer than a frog hair cut four ways," and the check-in - for a new patient never ever there before - about five minutes.
Straight back to the pre-op area, no delay. Just as fast, experienced pros not only did all the pre-op stuff - they hung out and offered pure hospitality. I have been in a lot of hospitals. These folks were superb. Half an hour before scheduled time, I was gurneyed to the operating room.
They knocked me out and the next thing I knew I was in the recovery room. I wasn't in bad shape, things just hurt a little, and yet there was a nurse with me the whole time. Every minute. Same thing in the second stage room. These nurses weren't just doing their jobs. They were living exemplars of compassion and care.
Then - discharged as soon as I felt I could walk well enough. The nurse gave me her extension and hammered it home about ten times that I had to call her before the end of her shift to let her know how I was doing. Thank you, DLM, and thank you Mike, and thank you Dana - everybody was the kind of nurse you would wish on your children or best friends. Please everyone else forgive me for spacing out a little tonight on names, but everyone is in my heart with complete gratitude. Same for the surgeon, Dr. DeMatos. And the hospital, which was so well-run, caring, clean and staffed by just the greatest people.
The next part of the good news is that I got to come home to the You-Know-Who Kahooki Roo. For a dog who can bomb around the forest and jungle, over the tops of mountains, through raging rivers, across the prairies and fields and deserts, the World Bear has a demure side. She never jumps on anyone. But get this - she jumped up in greeting on my friend Karim, out of nowhere yesterday, after he had been here for more than an hour, in a clear sign of welcome and thanks. She has never done that before. Never once.
More good news - the kindness and caring of all of you reading this. I'm such a big baby and you were all so sweet about it.
When I got home from the hospital, Roo sat down and stared and stared at me with her big brown eyes and then hopped up and down like her relative the Kanga about 50 times. You all know how that feels. She had to spend six hours alone - not that that's such a big deal, but she's never had to do it before, so in a way it is.
So all of that is the good news. I feel incredibly fortunate.
There is also some horrible, terrible news: uh..., let me think... I'm a little sore. Well, kinda. Not much. It only hurts when I laugh. So, that's a pretty awful degree of suffering, don't you think?
It's possible to have a minor surgery, and come out of it on the other end feeling blessed.
(Can't write much - feeling the cut in the gut a bit, not much, but still....)
Roo enjoys a sunset rainbow on Lake Powhatan. Hopefully she'll get another walk tomorrow, but we'll see. After that, it's curtains for her for who knows how long. She is going to go NUTS. I have been questioning my sanity lately over the fact that that's the only thing bothering me about having surgery on Friday. That and that the doctor told me he was going to operate on a part of me with nothing wrong.
Pure science requires that measurements be made to exacting degrees of certainty. Dogs are often called on, for the most part unwillingly, to participate in man’s quest for progress. Just ask any pharmaceutical or chemical weapons manufacturer. Being civic-minded to a fault, Roo has volunteered to do her part. Here are some of her recent findings.
1. Psychology: Correlative study to determine dog intelligence in terms of human age
An opinion has been developing in the scientific community that dogs possess an intelligence roughly equal to that of a human two-year-old. Roo has always scoffed at that so-called “science," which is in her view as laughable as the old human chestnut about the planet being round. Consequently, Roo designed the following experiment to demonstrate her contention that the truth is different by orders of magnitude (especially when calculated in dog years):
This is proof positive that, because it is not until approximately Second Grade when some boy finds out how much he can gross out his classmates by eating his boogers, the intellectual capacity of dogs is at least equal to that of an eight-year-old human.
2. Anatomy: Calibrated Tongue Length Measurement in Dogs
No matter how much experience a person has with dogs, there always comes a time when the length to which a dog can extend his or her tongue appears to exceed that which can be believed by the observer. This, in turn, mandates the precise quantification of tongue length. Everything you need for finely calibrated tongue-extension measurements is already in your home.
Once your subject has completed their portion of the experiment, all that is left is for you to take your samples back to the laboratory to complete the measurements and correlate the data. It will be sufficient for most purposes to be accurate to the nearest millimeter. Anything more granular than that will be difficult because of Heisenberg Uncertainty effects, which, on the quantum scale, are accelerated in any home with a dog, as no place has ever been shown by science to be small enough not to contain dog hair, one of the fundamental building blocks of the universe.
3. Physics: Thermoconducting properties of the dog tongue
Admittedly, this particular experiment does not yield any scientific data of great value, but it can be a useful tool for teaching the principles of thermoconductivity to small children in the hopes that they might become a bit more high-minded than that booger-eater sitting next to them in Home Room. Again, everything you need for this experiment can be found in your home laboratory.
Place the child’s hand underneath the cool stainless steel bowl, and ask them to note any changes in temperature caused by the action of the dog’s tongue. Be sure to differentiate thermoconductivity from friction.
Coming up in our next science section:
How using your dog's bomb-sniffing capabilities can help save you $40 on your next trip to the Quik-Lube.
Do any of you remember the days of the great hospitalizations? When I was a little kid and that first black rubber mask was lowered over my mouth and nose and I was told to inhale deeply and got that first whiff of anesthesia, hospitals - much like the airlines of the day or the great ships crossing the Atlantic - gave you a classy ride. A person was sure to enjoy himself. No doctors wore scrubs with candy-color elephants on them and hats that made them look like a highlighter with the cap off. Surgeons had the bearing and taste to wear the somber greens and grays appropriate to being the last person to deal with you before the undertaker. If you happened to make it out of surgery alive, no one would think of barging into your room nine times a night and snapping on ten thousand watts of overhead lights and mercilessly raising the electric bed so they wouldn’t have to lean down too far to yank your pillows out from under you and yell “HOW ARE YOU FEELING!?” at you at the top of their lungs. There was consideration. Visitors? They didn’t dare show their face in anything but a dark suit or dress and a shoeshine fresh off the elevated chair in the lobby. No one would think of lighting a Chesterfield before politely asking the nurse for an ashtray. Even in a time of diminished joie de vivre, there was always some savoir-faire. You would never be subjected to anybody - not even patients rolling their chrome IV stands down the halls - walking around in bathhouse sandals, ankle socks and a pair of jeans riding far enough down their ass to force you to read their underwear.
From the first time I was was sliced open, I loved it. There was no place I would rather be than getting operated on. Well, at least, in the hospital, but an operation was the price of admission, and well worth it, as far as I was concerned. It was great! Under the anesthesia you couldn’t hear your mother screaming at you. And later when she showed up, the Irish nurses - for in those days they were not only Irish, they still had the accents to show for it - made everyone toe the line and to a T. It was the life.
The tide turned in the middle 80s. I remember it because it coincided with the installation of longer runways at some of the world’s best remote destinations, which sent them on their death spiral down the crapper. I also remember it because I was entering a few years of epic hospitalizations resulting from being crushed, spilt open and later paralyzed. Scattered among these visits to hospitals from Kathmandu to California to New York, there was still the occasional high point, remembered like a glossy black-and-white with that pretty Stork Club cigarette girl in the background, but they were rare. The industrialization of the processes had begun. The light was changing. The artists were shown the door.
Today, getting an operation isn’t any fun at all. Name one connoisseur of any standing who would disagree.
I’m reminiscing about this is because I have to have an operation in ten days. I brought it on myself. I popped a couple of hernias when carrying Roo after her snakebite. The underlying guts are now protruding in little lumps that have to be poked back in and won't quite go. It was why I had to put Roo back down on the ground and make her walk the last 300 feet to the car, though I then picked her up again to put her in and again to get her into the ER. There was no choice. If you ask Roo, by the way, she'll agree that being hospitalized isn’t too much fun, either.
Surgery doesn’t worry me. The most recent one I had was on a shoulder. I think the surgeon operated with a fork and mistook the shoulder for a plate of mashed potatoes that he needed to stir. He destroyed the shoulder forever, and I did that one with nothing but Tylenol (I won’t be doing that again).
What worries me, however, is Roo. It will be several days - the surgeon says three weeks, but I don’t believe that for a minute - before I can walk her at all. There is a yard here, and she can adapt, but it’s going to be a drag for her.
So. If anyone is in Asheville, North Carolina, and feels like walking Roo once or twice, let me know. She might need a place to stay, and I’m reluctant to place her in boarding, where, in the event I am required to stay in the hospital unexpectedly, I’m worried about her being stuck. Though we’ve been here since April, we don’t know a soul. That is because I am too shy to want to know anybody or to ever hang out with anybody. I guess the lesson is that no dog is an island. And there we are.
Trying to lighten the blow on the little World Bear.