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?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Nothing Bao likes better than curling up with a good book ... or someone who's read one.

Amazingly, this photo wasn't posed. I put a copy of Sea Changes down on the sofa, and then the telephone rang and I went into the other room to answer it. When I came back, there was Bao, snuggling up to my other "baby".

He hasn't actually read Sea Changes, yet. But that's okay. Bao doesn't read. His interests tend to be ofalactory rather than literary.

Speaking of which, we've got this awful woman in our neighborhood who goes ballistic if Bao lifts a leg on her pebble mulch. (We don't have lawns, in Tucson) She doesn't mind any of the other dogs having a go, and they all do. But she doesn't like me, because she thinks I'm what she calls an intellectual. I've sort of become her bete noir. Actually, she needs to get a life. But that's another story.

Anyhow, in the interests of keeping the peace, Bao and I usually walk on the other side of the street. But yesterday, I forgot. It was very early, just past dawn. Nobody was up yet, and she wasn't even at home. And it was just a couple of drops.

Nonetheless, this morning she was waiting for us screaming, Your dog used my front yard as a toilet! I can tell! I knew it the minute I drove in the driveway!

I didn't say anything but I couldn't help wondering, How can she tell? I mean, really. Does she get down on her hands and knees and crawl around on the pebbles, smelling the different samples of dog pee? I was tempted to ask, but I didn't.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

We've just come home from Mexico, where we caught up with friends.

Here we are, just back from a wonderful walk on the beach. Me (showing entirely too much upper thigh) Bao, my always-glamorous friend Jeanne and her three girls, Cleopatra, Angelique and Tangerine.

Bao's stitches came out yesterday. Everything looks fine. The much-detested plastic cone has been put away on the highest shelf of the closet, and Bao is once again free to lick what's left of his nether regions. He doesn't seem to miss what's missing. I was afraid he might.

My novel Sea Changes was launched at an intimate, pre-publication Literary Lunch on Thursday and I sold my first 21 copies. Sea Changes is now available on Amazon, although it won't be in bookstores until next month. If you happen to read it and like it, please write a review about it for Amazon. (But if you don't, please don't!)

Personally, I like Amazon. You don't have to pay sales tax, and usually, shipping is free. Best of all, you don't have to worry about finding a place to park.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Once in a decade, life hands you the perfect line.

My moment came last night.

When older dogs are neutered, their scrotums sometimes swell slightly. If this happens, one applies an ice pack. So there I was with the ice pack wrapped in a towel, trying to persuade Bao that this was going to make it all better. Bao was -- needless to say -- unconvinced.

We were jockeying for position when the telephone rang. It was a self-righteous young woman soliciting money for a charity. "I'm sorry," I said. "I just don't have time for this right now. I'm busy."

"What could you possibly be doing that is more important than a needy child?" she asked officiously.

"Actually," I replied, "I'm icing my dog's scrotum."

Monday, April 13, 2009

Licking doesn't make it all better. Licking makes it worse.

So it was back to the vet to be fitted with a cone. Needless to say, Bao is not impressed. But he was much more chipper, this morning. He could hardly wait to get out and go for his walk. And his appetite has come back.

We spent all day Saturday on the couch, watching Lifetime movies. And all day yesterday on the other couch, reading. The only way to keep Bao still is to keep still myself. I have probably gained five pounds.

While we were having breakfast in bed this morning (we always have breakfast in bed) I showed Bao a photo of the new First Dog. He wasn't impressed. He still thinks they should have chosen a Shih Tzu. And he's convinced they've spelled his name wrong. Shouldn't it be Bao?

No, I told him. It's Bo. Like Bo Diddley.

Of course this made no sense at all to Bao, as Bo Diddley was before his time.

And he's really annoyed about the cone, which will have to stay on until the stitches come out, ten days from now.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Bao is fine. The surgery went well. He's here at home with me, sleeping at my feet.

I remained there with him the whole time. (I couldn't just drop him off at 8 am like a bag of dirty laundry and then wait for them to call and tell me to come and get him!) That actually worked well, because they let him stay with me during almost the whole pre-op period, and I think that calmed and reassured him. It certainly calmed and reassured me!

Also, they let him come home a couple of hours earlier than usual. The vet said she knew I'd watch him. I'm definitely watching him. I'm watching every little breath he takes. I'll probably be up all night, checking to see that he's still breathing, the way I did when he was a tiny puppy.

Thank you -- all of you -- for your thoughts, messages and emails. They helped both of us, enormously.

Now, I'm going to pour myself a Scotch.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

It's a tumor, but it's benign. Even so, it has to come out. Surgery is scheduled for Friday morning. Bao is unperturbed. I -- of course -- am a quivering wreck.

Amanda (our veternarian) has persuaded me to allow her to neuter Bao, as well. The tumor is of a sort that's fuelled by testosterone, and we don't want it to recur. Also, Bao's prostate is slightly enlarged. So even without the tumor, the family jewels would have probably had to go. Poor little guy!

And as if all this wasn't bad enough, Bao has also developed a small heart murmur. Pretty much par for the course for little dogs when they start getting old, Amanda told me. She's prescribed Benazepril. My mother used to take Benazepril.

I think I'd rather be looking at something herbal and homeopathic, but first we've got to get past Friday.

Meanwhile, I'm giving Bao all his favorite foods, and lots of cuddles. And trying very, very hard to keep my mind full of positive thoughts.

Friday, April 03, 2009

"Bao has a lump."

Four little words, and the world turns upside down.

Ginny (Bao's groomer) found it on Wednesday afternoon. Thursday morning, we were at the veternarian's office. They did a biopsy, and we should get the report by Monday.

Bao is his cheerful, loving self. He goes for his walks, eats his food, plays with his toys. His nose is cold and moist. He hasn't lost any weight. He certainly isn't acting sick. Hopefully, we've caught it early.

If it hadn't been for Ginny, I wouldn't have even noticed it. Then again, not many of us routinely lift our dog's tail and peer up his rear end! Although maybe, we ought to. These kinds of tumors are apparently rather common.

I keep telling myself, Bao is going to be fine.

But I'm scared.

If anyone knows of a story like this that had a happy ending, I'd really like to hear it.