Chairman Bao is a Shih Tzu. We travel a lot. I drive. He watches. We've logged at least 10,000 miles and he's never once said, Sweetheart, don't you think you should stop and ask someone?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I shouldn't be here. I have so much work to do. I have to scan dozens of images for the class I'm teaching. Why not bring the scanner with us to Mexico? suggested Bao. What a good idea!

It is just so beautiful. The water's warm, and the sunsets are spectacular. The sunrises are pretty gorgeous, too.

It's more than a place. It's a culture, an ambience, a life-style. Bad things happen, but somehow, they don't seem quite so bad. For example, the huge picture window in my condo cracked. Nobody knows why, or how. Maybe a bird flew into it. A very big bird.
But it had to be replaced. Pronto. In Arizona, this would have involved multiple telephone calls, appointments, hassle. Here, a guy came and measured the window and a couple of hours later, three more guys brought a new sheet of glass up in the elevator (how they managed to fit it in the elevator is beyond me) and installed it.

The sun is sinking, so it's time to tune in to another sunset.

And I ought to get started with the scanning.


Monday, October 29, 2007

There are photographs of Bao everywhere, all over the world. Australia, Canada, Mexico. People are forever asking if they can take his picture -- especially when he's in his stroller -- and I always say yes. Some people don't bother to ask, but most do. I vividly remember a whole tour group of Japanese lined up with their cell phones, 27 of them. It was fun. And of course, I had to supply a photo of Bao to Gina Alexander, who reproduced it on the custom-made tote you see here. (And if you think getting Bao to pose with the tote was easy, think again)

So I suppose it had to happen sooner or later. Even so, it was a bit of a shock to open the Sunday supplement and see Bao staring out at me. The headline said, Take your favorite friend wherever you go! 30 different breeds, beautifully reproduced on lovely totes for $79.98 each, plus shipping and service.

Bao is the Shih Tzu. No, truly. It's definitely Bao. Go onto their website at and look at the coloring of that Shih Tzu's ears. Look at the spacing of the eyes. Look at the face. If that isn't Bao, I'll eat my tote -- it's the same photo, it's the same dog. Isn't it?

The mrchandiser is Ardleigh Elliott and they're situated in Niles, Illinois. Should I contact them (on Bao's behalf, of course) and demand royalties? Or should we just feel flattered?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Bao and Second Dog (AKA Judy) on the beach in Mexico.

Second Dog is the nickname Judy gave herself the first time she came to visit us, in Florida. Nobody had ever stayed overnight in our little house before, and at first, Bao sort of got his metaphorical knickers in a knot about it.

"You're First Dog," Judy reassured him. "I'm Second Dog. Okay?"

Where Second Dog goes, First Dog goes. Even for a long walk on the beach at Rocky Point. The tide was all the way out, the sun was shining, the birds were catching fish off the reef and it was totally glorious. Bao trotted happily along, head and tail high, nose into the breeze. We walked for nearly two miles. Two miles! We'd brought the stroller along in case he got tired, but he didn't. Just as well. The stroller isn't made for sand. What we need is a set of those big, puffy wheels, but I haven't a clue where to find such things, or even what they're called.

That was yesterday morning. We did it again last night, and again this morning, just before we came back to Tucson. Bao and me (and Second Dog) walking along the beach. Fantastic.

Monday, October 22, 2007

It's that time of year again, start of the theatre season.

Bao has become quite the buff. I'm not sure he enjoys the plays, but he certainly enjoys all the attention he gets at Intermission. I have a Season Ticket at both the University of Arizona and the Arizona Theatre Company, so we always have the same seat -- and frequently, the same neighbors. A couple of people even bring him treats!

We saw two plays over the weekend -- "Bus Stop" and "Q Street".

We go to matinees, because I don't like driving at night. Tucson is particularly difficult in this respect, because there are hardly any street-lights. I thought it was because the city was cheap, or broke, but someone explained that it's because of the Mt Kitt Observatory. All the scientists want to be able to see the stars, so -- no streetlights.

Q Street was wonderful. I've never seen anything quite like it. When they said it was puppets I thought, Uh oh! A kids' show. Well, it's puppets but it's definitely not for kids. Really quite amazing. If its playing anywhere near you, go see it.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Bao is appalled when dogs behave badly. He's even more appalled when people behave badly.

Ellen DeGeneres is behaving badly. When Iggy -- the puppy she adopted from a non-profit rescue operation called Moms and Mutts -- didn't get along with her cats she gave Iggy to her hairdresser. That's against the rules. If you adopt a dog and decide you can't keep him, you're supposed to return him to the agency, not just pass him along like a parcel. DeGeneres signed a contract. So technically, she's in the wrong. Moms and Mutts reclaimed Iggy and settled him into another home. Technically, they're in the right.

Then DeGeneres went public. Boo hoo, on nationwide TV. There are definitely advantages to having your own television show.

Suddenly, Moms and Mutts became the villains of the piece. Okay, perhaps they could have been more tactful, and a tad more diplomatic when they repossessed Iggy. But they didn't deserve to be publically outed. Nor do they deserve to find themselves on the receiving end of death threats from -- presumably -- DeGeneres' fans. (Which makes one wonder about her fans)

DeGeneres broke the rules. DeGeneres was wrong. She owes the ladies who run Moms and Mutts an apology. And a big hug, on nationwide TV.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Miracle of miracles -- on Sunday morning, Bao decided to take a walk on the beach! The tide was all the way out, so maybe he thought the sea had gone back to its water dish. It was great, it really was.

He trotted along, head held high. He stopped to sniff, and peed on a dead fish. He really seemed to enjoy himself. We didn't go all the way to the water's edge, because I didn't want to push my luck. It's beautiful on the beach in the morning, and at sunset. And I've been quite flummoxed by Bao's reluctance to venture out upon the sand.

And I still am. Because yesterday, no soap. Back to square one. We tried again this morning, just before we came home. I had to tug him down the steps, but once we got onto the beach he was okay. Although he was visibly relieved when we headed back!

I'm thinking of writing to Cesar Milan. Nothing bad has ever happened to Bao on a beach. Nothing has ever happened to Bao on a beach, period. Whatever it is that's causing this, it's all in his mind. (Bao's mind, not Cesar Milan's) But could Cesar help? Dunno. Might be worth a try, though. And I'll bet Cesar wouldn't mind spending a few days at Rocky Point.

No dog seems able to resist Cesar Milan. But then again, I don't suppose they let the failures go to air. They wouldn't, would they?

Friday, October 12, 2007

We’re in Mexico. Sitting by the pool, Bao gave me a kiss.
You shouldn’t let him do that, said the woman next to me. Dogs have germs.
So do people, I replied. In fact, we’ve got more bacteria and germs in our bodies than we do cells. She gave me a funny look, and went back to her fashion magazine.
I sat there, thinking about my bacteria and germs. To them, I’m an environment – a whole world. Planet Gail, home to untold thousands of generations of bacteria and germs. They probably think I’ll last forever, but I won’t. And when I do finally fall off my perch, it will be – from the point of view of my bacteria and germs, assuming they have a point of view – an ecological catastrophe, global warming writ large. Total annihilation. The end of their world.
Is that why some of them are trying to keep me healthy? Because they know what’s coming? And what about the ones that are trying to make me sick? Are they suicidal? Or just selfish, like their energy-guzzling human counterparts?
There’s something about the sound of the waves and the smell of the sea that sends my imagination off on peculiar tangents. I think I’ll give Bao another kiss.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Bao groomed and ready for the Battle of the Heartworm Pill.

I admit defeat. I cannot get these things down him. He knows exactly what they are, and he hates them as only a Shih Tzu can. I've tried concealing pieces of them in meatballs, but he'll eat the meatball and spit out the medication. Ditto peanut butter. If I break them up and try to force the bits down his throat, he sits quietly until I think he's swallowed, and then triumphantly spits it all out. Yes, triumphantly. He gets that look on his face.
If I crumble them up and put them in ice cream or yoghurt or chocolate pudding (all of which he loves) he wants no part of it. He knows. And, true confessions. I'm nervous about shoving things down his throat, because I'm afraid he might choke.

Ginny (Bao's groomer) offered to administer the medication herself. I was dubious. Ginny is pretty formidable (she breeds and shows dogs and horses) but Bao can be very stubborn.

He's got your number and he knows it, said Ginny. Let me try.

I was afraid Bao was going to take her hand off in the process, but she finally did get the heartworm medicine down his throat. And it stayed down. Bao was not impressed, but I certainly was. Ginny has offered to do this for us, every month. Thank goodness!

Does anyone else's dog hate heartworm pills?

Monday, October 08, 2007

We've got a new dog on the block, a dear little rescued Shih Tzu named Gadget.

Gadget has had cosmetic surgery. He's had his eyes done. I kid you not. There is apparently a surgical procedure for dogs with bulging eyes. This is not necessarily a bad idea. Those big, beautiful eyes are at risk (especially when little dogs play with big dogs) and I do know several Shih Tzus who've lost an eye. But cosmetic surgery? I don't think so.

And guess what? If you've had your dog neutered and then changed your mind about it, you can -- in the words of L'l Abner -- "put 'em put back the way they was". I am referring to surgically implanted testicles. They have a cutesy name for them, something like "besticles". The mind boggles. But don't go by me. Apparently, there's big bucks to be made in prosthetic dogs' balls.

I am also at somewhat of a loss as to why anyone would pay $65 to ascertain the parentage of their dog. But there it is, the latest hot item for the dog owner who has everything. A DNA test for dogs. It's DYI. You take a cheek swab, mail it to the lab, and five weeks later they send you the results. You can only go back as far as the dog's great-grandparents, but hey! That's one generation further than I can go.

Monday, October 01, 2007

It's a dog's life. Well, it's this dog's life, anyway. Enjoying the September sunshine on the deck in Puerto Penasco.

A funny thing happened in the pool. I was swimming laps, and as usual, Bao was trotting worriedly along the edge of the pool, following me up and down. Suddenly, an attractive young woman called to me. Excuse me, she said. But is your dentist Dr. Allen?

I'd taken my glasses off, so I couldn't really see her. And although this struck me as rather an extraordinary question to be asked in the middle of a swimming pool in Puerto Penasco, strangely enough, Dr. Allen is my dentist. So I said, Yes.

I knew it! said the attractive young woman. I recognized your dog! He's got such a wonderful little face. I'd know him anywhere!

Turns out, she's Dr. Allen's dental hygienist, or whatever they call the person who wields the little plastic tube that sucks the water out of your mouth while the dentist is drilling. She's spent many an hour staring into my open mouth (which is probably why she didn't recognize me with my mouth shut) But this happens lots of times. I'm apparently quite forgettable. But everybody remembers Bao.

As I say, it's a dog's life.