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?

Monday, January 28, 2008

What a day! What a party!

Bao's Portrait Party had an international flavor -- our friend Marlene drove up all the way up from Mexico especially to join us. And Bao's beloved Aunty Char and Uncle Bill came, of course. Friends, neighbors, art lovers and dog lovers sipped wine and nibbled sandwiches and waited for the magical moment.

Artist Russell Recchion did himself proud. He had Bao's portrait framed and varnished, and mounted on an easel covered with a red velvet curtain. When everyone was here, I made a little speech. Bao has always been a good little dog, I said. He is a joy and a comfort, and I wanted to honor him, to honor his existence.

(By the way, Bao seemed to know that this was all about him. He spent the entire afternoon posing)

Russ removed the velvet curtain, and there was a collective, Ooh!

It is gorgeous. It truly is. It is just the most wonderful, wonderful portrait. I wish you could all see it in the flesh. It's hanging in my study, and Bao -- exhausted by his day of fame and hors d'oeuvres -- is sleeping at my feet.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Okay, here's a game for you.

Make a list of the seven adjectives that most accurately describe your dog's personality. Then, make another list of the seven adjectives that most accurately describe your own personality. (No cheating!)

My list for Bao would be: Loving, loyal, intelligent, sociable, appreciative of the good things in life, timid (but puts on a good front) stubborn, bossy. Now, let's see. I like to think of myself as loving, loyal, intelligent and sociable, but don't we all?

As for being appreciative of the good things in life, guilty as charged. And so is Bao. You only have to watch him prance into the lobby of a luxury hotel to know that he does know the difference. He prefers steak to hamburger, roast goose to chicken, caviar to jam. Truly, he does. (How do I know he likes caviar? We'll save that for a future blog)

Timid. I'd certainly admit to what some people call an unreasonable level of caution. And God knows I'm stubborn. Bossy? Hmmm.

So what does it mean if I'm totally like my dog? It means -- and I quote -- Bao and I "are locked into a gloriously co-dependent relationship." There are worse things.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Schadenfreude in the sunshine in Southern Arizona.

We've just been looking at a weather map of the United States. Most of it is blue, purple and green. But here we are, tucked into a little strip of orange and happy we're not in Montana. Or New York. Or Wisconsin. Or any of those places.

We saw a wonderful new TV show last night. It's called Dogtown and it airs on Friday nights just after Cesar Milan on the National Geographic channel. These are true stories from Dogtown, at Best Friends in Utah, where -- in their own words -- you get to hear the good news about animals, wildlife, and the earth.

All the stories don't have happy endings, but most of them do. Sadly, Bruno the aging, abandoned Chow, didn't make it. But he spent his last hours in a home, not a cage. And the last thing he felt was loving hands, and the last thing he heard was a loving voice telling him it was going to be all right, it wasn't going to hurt anymore. I cried like a two year old.

This is great television. Tune in next Friday, okay?

Saturday, January 05, 2008

We're in Mexico, and we're swimming. Well, I'm swimming. Bao doesn't swim. As far as Bao is concerned, water that's not in a water dish is renegade water and he wants no part of it. But if I want to swim in my water dish (and I'm sure that's how he sees it) he can see no alernative to letting me do so, mostly because I'm bigger than he is.

One of the things Bao does like to do when we're here is to gather up all of his toys into a pile, and then go to sleep on top of them. He doesn't do this at home. Only here.

It's hard to believe that last week, we were huddled in front of the fire. Mind you, it's not exactly tropical here. It's cool, and clouding over. But the pool is heated, and swimming in that deliciously warm water with the cold air above you is sort of like eating a hot fudge sundae, but not as fattening. Also, they've taken to serving a complimentary continental breakfast on Saturday and Sunday, in the lobby. That is fattening.

We've been walking on the beach, too.

Okay, true confessions. I'm in the process of writing a book on what's good about America. It's going slowly. Not because there isn't lots that's good about America, but because it's easier to write about bad things than it is to write about good things. But watch this space.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Please, what animal is this?

I first saw it sprawled out on the wall of my back garden, sun-bathing. Well, that's what it looked like it was doing. It isn't a squirrel. It isn't a possum, or a raccoon. I don't think it's a Prairie Dog. It's too big to be a Pack Rat, isn't it? And it hasn't got a stripe, so it isn't (thank goodness!) a skunk.

Today it's on the window-sill of my study, eating birdseed.

It doesn't seem to be scared of people. Maybe it's somebody's escaped pet. A ferret, perhaps? No, it doesn't look much like a ferret.

But it really is cute, with its little ears and its little paws and its big, dark eyes.

So what is it?

Can anybody help?