It was a foregone conclusion that we would have our dog, Stanley, neutered once he was old enough. Just like it was a foregone conclusion that, when it came time to deliver him into the hands of the vet, I would be playing the role of “Judas.” I thought about disguising myself and borrowing someone else’s car so that Stanley would not associate me with his loss of malehood.
My wife told me I was being silly. He’s a dog, she reminded me, and capable of recognizing my scent no matter how I was dressed.
It didn’t help the situation that my then 4-year-old son, after overhearing our conversation, had reached the conclusion that something serious was happening, and that it involved — but wasn’t limited to — Stanley turning into a girl and biting daddy.
Naturally, as responsible parents, we then sat down with our son and, together, convinced him that he had a hearing problem. We informed him the problem could be solved by allowing his ears to “rest,” which he should do by covering them as much as possible.
However, we’re rational adults. We realized our son would, from time to time, need to use his hands for something other than covering his ears. So, as rational adults, we also developed a secret code language in order to safely continue our discussion about Stanley. Using our new code, I explained that I was concerned how Stanley would react once he got home and discovered his luggage had been lost, and how he might hold me personally responsible since I was there when his bags were checked in.
My wife argued that dogs lose their luggage every day, and none of them go after the pilots.
I admitted she was right, but that most pilots aren’t standing next to a passenger when they’ve just realized there’s nothing waiting for them at the baggage claim.
That’s when my wife took me by the hand and gently told me that if Stanley missed his flight today, my luggage would be waiting for me on the front porch when I got home.
As I sat in the vet’s office that afternoon, I avoided all eye contact with Stanley, who, at 10 months old, still hadn’t learned to fear people wearing latex gloves.
When it came time, the vet explained that it was a simple procedure. That Stanley wouldn’t be conscious during the operation and that, as a male veterinarian, neither would he. But his assistants were perfectly capable of doing whatever is supposed to be done “down there.”
When they took Stanley away, he was happy.
When I picked him up a few hours later, he was still happy. Even though, with the cone over his head to keep him from licking his stitches, he looked like a dumb cousin to the RCA dog who had gotten a running start and gone headfirst through the small end of a Victrola speaker.
My wife called a short time later, and it was obvious that my son was with her because she asked how Stanley’s flight went.
I told her the plane landed safely, and that we would be home just as soon as I determine the physics necessary to fit a three-foot diameter cone through a two-foot-square car door opening.
Ironically, we’d probably still be there if Stanley hadn’t fit in the luggage compartment.
(Write to Ned Hickson at email@example.com)