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, March 31, 2011

Bao loves doing Sunday brunch, especially when we join our friend Judy at Restaurante de Ramon in Mexico. Bao loves Judy. Although she hasn't got a dog of her own, she's bought a doggy water dish for when Bao comes to visit, and stocked up on with treats and toys. As you can see, Bao absolutely adores her.

We're breaking all the rules here -- Bao is snacking on ham, sausage and scrambled egg. Only tiny bits, but what a treat after all these weeks of boiled chicken and yucky veterinary food.

Luckily, there were no reprecussions. And then yesterday, Dr Mike said we could add lean, cooked steak to Bao's diet.

I wish you could have seen Bao's face when I brought him his dinner last night. He sniffed, looked at the dish in disbelief, and then he looked up at me as if to ask, Am I dreaming? And then, whoosh! Crunch, gobble, swallow and it was gone. He usually doesn't eat so fast, but I think he was afraid I might change my mind and take it away.

He's gained most of the weight back, but he still can't jump up on things the way he used to. I wonder if there are some exercises he could do to strengthen his little hind-quarters.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hooray! We're in Mexico. We love it here. But I have to admit, there were times during the past six weeks when I wondered if Bao would ever see his beloved beach again.

I just can't believe that we're actually here. Bao is having a wonderful time. He's thoroughly reconnoitred the grounds, checking to see which dogs have been here in his absence. He has peed on every tree, sniffed every bit of grass. Of course, all the staff are delighted to see him (we haven't been here for nearly two months) and he loves that, too.

The night we arrived there was a huge storm, no rain but lots of wind. It blew all the sand flat, which makes it easier for Bao to walk on the beach. Seeing him trotting along, little tail held high, sniffing and exploring makes me so happy! I'm so grateful that he's still with me, that our journey together is not over.

As you can see, Bao has had a hair-cut. Rather than try to tease out the mats and knots, the groomer just cut it all off. I think he looks a bit like a skinned rabbit, but everyone else thinks he looks really cute.

I'm still waking up half a dozen times during the night to check and make sure he's still breathing. It was a really bad scare, and I guess it's going to take a while to get over it. Bao -- on the other hand -- is just living in the present, and enjoying the sunshine. But that's what dogs do.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Yesterday afternoon, Bao brought me one of his toys. It's his way of saying, Okay! Time for our afternoon walk! It's the first time he's done this in nearly six weeks. And this morning, he walked all the way to the fountain and back, nearly a mile, his normal, morning walk.

He's improving.

Tomorrow we go to see Dr. Mike, and I'm nervous about that. Blood tests and ultrasound scans are wonderful, but they're also a two-edged sword. There is such a thing as too much information, too many possibilities and none of them good. It's a shame that all the tests search for what's wrong, rather than what's right. On the other hand, we wouldn't have known about the pericardial infusion without the ultrasound, and -- undiagnosed -- that would have killed Bao within hours.

Meanwhile, normal is nice. Normal is more than nice. Normal is -- as they'd say in Australia -- bloody wonderful. I'm thinking, we don't appreciate normal. Bao has spent his whole life eating and sleeping, peeing and pooping, playing and enjoying his little walks -- and I always took all of that for granted. Now, every mouthful is an achievement and every walk is a triumph to be celebrated.

One of my friends said this has been harder on me than it has on Bao, and (although I'm not the one who almost died) there's some truth to that. Bao is a happy camper again, but I'm still shaky.

But we're still together, and that's something.

Actually, that's everything.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

On Sunday, Bao was well enough to do lunch at a restaurant -- of course, he can't have little bits of bread and butter (which he loves) because he's still on a strict diet, but he could enjoy the ambience of being out and about. And yesterday (as you can see in the photo) we did Happy Hour at our local wine bar.

Slowly, he's getting his strength back.

Each morning, we walk a little further. I don't want to push him. He's been through so much! But he loves his walks and here in Southern Arizona, this lovely weather will only last for another month or so before it starts getting seriously hot. I'm thinking we should take advantage of it.

Today, we're going to start practicing going up stairs -- just a few steps at a time. I'd like him to build up the muscles in his haunches, so that he can once again jump up on the couch and the bed by himself, the way he's always done. At the moment, I'm having to lift him up and down. And up and down. And up and down.

Never mind -- I'm just incredibly grateful that he's still here with me.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Things really do seem to be looking up.

Bao has gained a pound. He's eating more or less normally -- he's allowed to have a small amount of boiled chicken with his veterinary diet. I shred the chicken and make little "sandwiches" with chicken shreds on the outside and the healthy stuff hidden inside. This works.

He's definitely stronger. We've gone back to doing our morning and afternoon walks. I bring his stroller along, and when he starts to get tired, I put him in the stroller and we come home. Each morning, he's walking a little bit further. He went to the groomer a couple of days ago, for a "gentle" bath. I'm sure he feels a lot better. He certainly smells better.

To me, this is a miracle. Two weeks ago, he was walking in the valley of the shadow of death -- I truly feared he wouldn't make it.

We still don't know what happened. Anaerobic bacteria? Infection? Fungus? Nobody has a clue. Have other dogs had this? We don't know that, either. Sometimes, people can't afford to take their pets to the vet, especially in these difficult times.

But whatever it was, it seems to have run its course. Fingers crossed!