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?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Bao's blood pressure is up. Bummer.
We've increased the carvedilol -- but it's tricky. The right amount will (hopefully) bring his blood pressure back down, but too much can send him into heart failure. I have to watch him for signs of lethargy, weakness and loss of appetite.
This isn't as easy as it sounds. Bao has always been a couch potato rather than a jock. His idea of a perfect afternoon is a belly rub followed by a nap in the sun. (He loves it when I get a cold, because if I stay in bed all day, so can he) And it's been unseasonably hot, here in Scottsdale. How do you pinpoint lethargy in a little dog who hates 100-degree-plus temperatures and doesn't do much anyhow?
Of course, as regular readers of this blog already know, I tend to be hypervigilant where Bao is concerned. Especially now that he has this mitral valve thing. So he sleeps, and I fret.
I know there's a machine you can buy that reduces blood pressure in people. You listen to music and it somehow slows down your breathing and this -- for reasons I don't quite understand -- lowers your blood pressure which then stays low, even after the music has stopped.
I wish there was something like that for dogs!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Bao has just had his bi-monthly check up, and the news is as good as it could be -- his heart murmur has gone from a 4 (on a scale of 1-6) to a 3. Of course, that doesn't mean that his mitral valve is getting better ... altough, wouldn't that be wonderful?!?
Dr. Mike explained to me that heart murmurs can vary from day to day. But the good news is that it doesn't seem to be getting any worse. The whole point of the medication is to slow things down, and -- fingers crossed! -- that's what seems to be happening.
Bao has been snoring and snorting a lot when he sleeps, and that was worrying me. But people do the same thing, as they get older. I had a friend in Australia whose husband snored so loudly they had separate bedrooms at opposite ends of the house. (I actually didn't believe this until I stayed with them one night. I'll never forget it. You wouldn't think a human being could make so much noice, and sleep through it!)
When I remember how sick Bao was in July, I am just so grateful that he is still here with me, sleeping at my feet. Every day is a blessing.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Bao and I have been sleeping up a storm every since we got home -- I think the altitude in Aspen affected us both. Or maybe it was all the driving. Or maybe, the combination of travel and altitude. After all, neither of us is as young as we used to be! But then again, who is?
Bao is glad to be back where there are sidewalks, and where the dogs are mostly his size, and on leashes. He is a very conventional, very urban little dog. He likes his little routines, and his creature comforts. When we travel, I always bring a few of his toys along, but I guess there's nothing quite so comforting as sleeping in your own bed ... especially if you're a little dog.
Don't know if I mentioned it, but Bao has been on a raw meat diet for the past few months, and it's working out really well. I buy hormone-free meat for him, and for myself, too. In fact, I try to avoid additives whenever I can, but it's not easy. You can hardly buy anything that isn't full of artificial colors, preservatives and flavorings, these days. Take potato chips. (I love potato chips) All you need to make potato chips are potatoes, oil and salt -- but finding a bag of potato chips that contain only these three ingredients is a real challenge.
What are we doing to ourselves? It's kind of scary, all this artificial, chemical coloring and flavoring. Eating healthy is not only difficult, it's expensive. And it shouldn't be that way. Not for dogs, and not for people, either.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010


On the way home from Aspen, the road forked and -- as always -- I
zigged when I should have zagged and found myself driving through some
of the most spectacular scenery in the United States.
I was on Highway 163 (I was meant to have stayed on 191) skirting the
western side of Monument Valley. It was overcast and even raining in
places, but even so, I felt as if I was in a John Ford movie. It was
absolutely, breathtakingly magnificent.
Bao was asleep, although he woke up when I stopped to snap this photo.
He got out of the car and sniffed. Then he looked at me as if to say,
Nobody worth a pee has ever been here, so what are you getting so
excited about?
It was raining quite heavily by the time we got to Kayenta, so I
postponed my tour of Monument Valley -- the clouds are amazing, but I
think it's the kind of thing you want to see in the sunshine.
It just stopped raining. This motel has a heated pool. Bao is asleep
next to me. Life is good.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Bao in the lap of luxury

We are staying at an uncharacteristically upmarket and expensive
venue, Aspen Meadows Resort, attending a Renaissance Weekend event.
The rooms are lovely. The surroundings are lovely - green grass, lush
foliage, trees, sculpture, ponds, mountains, blue sky. But for some
reason, the grounds of this extremely pricey resort hotel also
function as an off-leash dog park for locals and their large, much
loved, undisciplined four-legged friends. I'm not talking about one or
two dogs. I'm talking about packs of dogs. Many big dogs, running
loose at all hours.
This isn't working for Bao. He's never liked dog parks. (Frankly,
neither have I) He's small and he's old and he doesn't want to be
jumped by six huge strange dogs who want to smell his butt whenever we
set foot outdoors. He hasn't pooped. He's literally scared shitless.
The staff are sanguine. "Aspen is dog friendly" they say.
So is Carmel. But you don't see dogs running loose in the streets of
Carmel. You don't see dogs running loose in the streets of Aspen,
either. Only here, at Aspen Meadows Resort, where one night's
accommodation costs more than a month's HOA fees!
Aspen Meadows Resort has gone to the dogs, and they can have it.
We won't be back.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Amazing Moab

After our austere weekend at Canyon de Chelly, I wasn't really looking
forward to our drive to Aspen, Colorado -- but you know, they've made
air travel such a miserable ordeal that if a place is less than 12
hours' drive, I drive.
So off we went, north through Flagstaff to avoid as much of the Navajo
Nation as possible.
It's a much nicer drive. And Moab -- where we spent the night -- was
wonderful, set in the midst of spectacular, red rock scenery and
boasting a full complement of nice motels and great restaurants.
So here's Bao, sleeping off his share of a Jack Daniels half pound
cheeseburger at the Moab Brewery. I'm having a second glass of
Cabernet from a Moab vineyard. I never knew they had vineyards in
Utah, did you?