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?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Bao with Ju, a friend from Australia who spent a couple of days with us last week. We've just had lunch at The Olive Garden, one of Bao's favorites.

How does Bao feel about houseguests? I suspect if I taught him how to use the computer (and how to spell) he'd compile Guidelines for Houseguests that would look something like this.

1. Pay attention to me. Talk to me. Include me in your conversation. It's my house.

2. If you must sit in the front seat of the car, I get to sit on your lap.

3. I am a creature of habit, and my walks are non-negotiable. Every morning, and every afternoon. You're welcome to join us, but we do stop frequently. If you want exercise, use the treadmill.

4. Food is to be shared at all times.

5. Please refrain from making sudden, loud noises.

6. Expect me to be in the same room with the two of you. If you want privacy, go to your own room and shut the door.

7. Scratch me behind my ears. Admire me. Bribe me with treats. Bring me presents. Squeaky soft toys are especially welcome.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Dinner at the home of artist Russell Rechhion and his wife Laura. They served ham, with a Martha Stewart glaze that was simply divine. Bao had just one question: Where has ham been all my life?

He's had bacon. He's had pork. He's even had pork sausages. But this was the first time he ever tasted ham.

I suppose it's because it would never occur to me to cook a ham, just for the two of us. Hams are big. If I impulsively decided to bake one, I'd be eating it for the foreseeable future. Which would be just fine, as far as Bao is concerned.

I haven't seen him enjoy anything this much since he discovered hollandaise sauce on the Eggs Benedict we had for brunch in Wisconsin, two years ago!

I usually boast (modestly) that Bao isn't one of those dogs who'd eat himself to death. Bao, I say proudly, always knows when he's had enough.

But this time, I wasn't so sure. I think he ate more than I did. More ham, anyhow. He ate until he looked as if he'd swallowed a cantaloupe. Finally, he curled up and fell asleep at my feet. But only until Laura brought out the apple pie. And then suddenly, there he was again -- up on the chair and ready for action.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Friends are important. Friends make the world go round.

Bao has his own friends. He tends to pick and choose, and sometimes when we visit people who have a dog, he embarrasses me. He won't sniff just anybody's rear end. There's no pretense where dogs are concerned. Bao takes to some dogs and not others, and that's just the way it is.

And he's even choosier when it comes to humans. He adored Charlotte and Bill from the get go, and can spot them across a crowded room in a heartbeat. (Of course, it helps that Aunty Char almost always brings him a bag of treats, as you can see in the photo) Bao also has his favorites among my students. I teach an Adult Learning class in Chinese history -- we're working our way through the Chinese dynasties -- and many of the same people attend each semester. One particular lady is Bao's friend. He lies watching the door until she arrives, and then he goes and curls up under her chair. Sometimes she brings treats, but sometimes she doesn't and Bao doesn't seem to mind. A friend is a friend.

When people ask why I don't have a boyfriend, I tell them it's because Bao won't allow anyone else on the bed. But friends are fine -- as long as they stay off the bed!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Little Max is dead.

Max was one of Bao's best friends, in Australia. He was a dear little black Shih Tzu. He only had one eye, but it didn't worry him. He was such a sweet, gentle affectionate little boy, several years older than Bao, who adored him. Everyone adored Max.

We stayed with Max and Marie (his mom) the last three days we were in Australia. I'd sold my house, and sold my car, and Australian hotels and motels don't allow dogs. Stay with us! said Marie. So we did.

Marie's house is on three levels. For three days, those two little guys raced one another up and down the stairs, playing and romping and doing all kinds of doggy things. They ate their meals together, they went for walks together, they curled up on the couch together and watched television. Just like a couple of kids.

Leaving was sad, because we knew the two little dogs would probably never see one another again. And I was terribly apprehensive about Bao having to spend 18 hours in the cargo hold. When the moment finally came and I had to put him into the Sky Kennel, I remember thinking that no matter what happened, at least he'd just had the happiest three days of his life.

Vale, Max. We'll never forget you.