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Being in a hospital is great for solving life-threatening health problems. But lying flat on your back at the mercy of strangers while various machines beep, gurgle and blare is not totally pleasant. So, in a recent stay at Wyoming Medical Center, I perked up at what sounded like Brahms’ Lullaby drifting through the air.

A few hours later, yep, there it was again—a lullaby incongruously joining the chorus of urgent medical summons and staff knocking the door regularly enough to prevent any real sleep. I wasn’t hallucinating it; WMC does indeed play Braham’s Lullaby through all corners of the place when a baby is born.

Granted pain medications were onboard, but this little whimsical bit of cheer made me ridiculously happy. I am filled with admiration for the injection of uncomplicated celebration into an atmosphere dedicated to serious stuff and perplexingly impenetrable procedures.

Beyond the lullaby, a patient needs to bring his or her own fun. In my case, fun involved game-planning how to come home safely to a houseful of big, clumsy dogs. As I crept up and down the halls of the surgical floor, dragging my IV stand like a zombie behind me, I pictured how happy Luci, the youthful golden retriever, would be to see me. She would bring 60 pounds of fur and enthusiasm toward my stomach at full speed.

The careful “Don’t jump” training of the past few months wouldn’t have a chance against generations of instinct telling her to leap toward her loved one, particularly when the loved one had a Frankenstein-style incision held together with scary-looking staples front and center, an alluring target for large dog paws.

One clever friend had witnessed her own jumping dog running in fear when she saw a person using a walker. Aha, we thought; a walker could act as a kind of shark cage surrounding the innocent target while a dangerous predator swims too close for comfort.

So began two days’ worth of serious debate about walkers and jumpers. Most walkers have yellow tennis balls on the feet to allow a smooth glide. But imagine how a golden retriever would love to hunt down and destroy those tennis balls, regardless of the recovering patient cowering behind them.

Courtney, a multi-talented nurse with a wicked creative streak, searched online for clever treatments for walkers. She was thrilled to discover one with feet that looked like tennis shoes, until we realized the tennis shoes would attract the retriever even more dramatically than tennis balls would.

In the end, we went with the simple walker-as-shark-cage concept. As I got out of the car and pointed the walker at Luci, it got the desired effect. The little coward stopped her jumping to circle around, looking for another angle of attack. Seeing none, she leaped on my husband instead and was immediately pinned to the ground in reprimand. Now her feelings were hurt. What next? Bear spay? Pepper spray?

I soon discarded the scary walker for a much better weapon – my cell phone. For some reason, every time I point the phone at Luci, she turns away, like a celebrity trying to avoid having her picture taken. I’m searching for a perfect soundtrack to play when this patient versus jumping Luci victory occurs, similar to the WMC’s lullaby serenade when a baby arrives. The theme from “Rocky” comes to mind, a celebration of the wily human over the determined dog.

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