Bowdu 寶肚, the Precious Tummy

Run free, Bowdu

Bowdu 寶肚, the Precious Tummy
a.k.a. Doobs
Jan 20, 2005 – August 17, 2020
The Original Bow of The House of Two Bows 雙寶之屋,
debuted on April 2, 2005

From bustling Taipei streets to our cozy Berkeley bungalow, through grad school and jobs and friendships and relationships, home with Bowdu was the most constant presence I’d known for the past 15 and a half years. He had been dealing with similar renal issues as Bowpi, but his mind was what failed him in the end. His canine cognitive dysfunction had been evident for a couple years already, though mostly abated with the pandemic and me being home all the time. But as soon as Bowpi was gone, he just lost it. It’s like I could feel his organs shutting down, particularly his precious heart-mind.

At the emergency vet where Bowpi was laid to rest, ambient thunderstorm sounds played in the room. On Bowdu’s last full day, we got a whole morning of real thunder, lightning, and summer rain — a rarity for Bay Area weather. It was a portentous beginning to our amazing last day together, spent alive in our senses and immersed in love. The heat and humidity had mostly subsided by the afternoon when we shifted out to the backyard. We cuddled in the shade, felt the cooling air, listened to birds and the neighborhood, watched the sky change colors as evening fog swirled in layers overhead. When the solar garden lights kicked on, we shared dinner outside — salt and pepper fish with lentil soup for me, the same fish minus pepper plus congee for him. We then camped down on a blanket until one a.m., when the party returned indoors for one last, failed attempt at sleeping calmly through the night.

He lived fiercely, yet passed so gently, yielding completely to the home euthanasia vet who came the next morning. Though I ached to keep him with me just a little longer, he told me clearly that he was ready to go.

Now, one grief-stricken week later, I am able to marvel at the timing, in retrospect. One day earlier, our backyard campout would have been chased indoors by inclement weather. Two days later, we’d be struggling to breathe through California wildfire smoke. I keep reflecting on the strange irony that this terrible pandemic gave both of my Bows pretty perfect deaths, after all. Because I didn’t have to miss Bowpi’s seizures and come home wondering what had happened, or worry about being somewhere else when she needed me, or wait in crowded offices while we were both in distress. And though lots of vets have contact-free policies now, the emergency vet was still able to let me go in to a very comfortable, private room and take all the time I needed with Bowpi. The home euthanasia vet let me stage Bowdu’s final moments in a peaceful, golden spot where the sun came shining down on his face, both of us facing westward with my masked face buried in his neckfur, spooning him in his final moments. The vet stayed outdoors, I remained inside, Bowdu laid on a dog bed at the threshold of the back door until his breath just faded into vapor…

It is not the worst injustice to have a beloved pet pass while everyone is under lockdown. It is still extremely painful to lose both Bows within a single month. In a year full of unwelcome changes, I can only hope these two will hurt the most.

Until we find each other again…

Bowpi 寶媲, the Precious Companion

20190204 stripecoat

Bowpi 寶媲, the Precious Companion,
a.k.a. Peeps, Peepsy/Peepsi/Peepsie
Dec 31, 2004?? – early a.m. hours of July 18, 2020
Adopted into The House of Two Bows 雙寶之屋 on March 23, 2010

Did I think that if I never posted here again, I could avoid the inevitable?

No, of course not.

That’s not how this works.

During these last few months of quarantine, Bowpi the basenji had been testing the physical boundaries of Bowdu the shiba. Though she had a wide selection of soft, comfortable, and heating pad-augmented beds of her own, she kept trying to sneak into his bed, claiming his space. A younger, grumpier Bowdu would have chased her out with a snarl and flashing fangs. As a more sedate old man, Bowdu instead just looked at her in his bed with an expression of quiet exasperation, even resignation, then either moved aside to lie elsewhere on the floor, or waited for me to nudge her back to her own spot.

But one day, after seeing her steal his bed again, Bowdu did something he had never done before — he climbed in beside her, laid down so she was pressed snugly against his side and the wall of the bed (she was already most of the way there) …

… and then, when Bowpi repositioned her head to rest her chin on Bowdu as a pillow, he actually let her do so with absolutely no fuss. NEXT LEVEL CUDDLING CUTENESS, UNLOCKED. As I raved on other social media at the time, this “event” of Bowdu allowing himself to be used as Bowpi’s body pillow took over ten years of cohabitation to happen on its own. They’d been close enough to touch limbs or bump sides before, but nothing ever quite like this.

I lingered and watched them sleep that way for most of the afternoon, appreciating that the current state of sheltering at home allowed me to fully witness the moment.

A couple days after I took those pictures, Bowpi completely stopped eating and drinking. Some 34 months after first being diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, she had gone into total renal failure. Her strength declined rapidly, and a few nights later, she was gone.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Bowdu has been mourning her loss as deeply as I have been. He has his ways, and I have mine. I put together a 3-hour freeform radio show filled with lesser-known dog songs, mourning/grieving/yearning songs, African music (with an emphasis on Central Africa and the Congo, of course), sound clips and other audio connections to Bowpi. I invite everyone to join me for this LIVE radio event, happening just a little more than a day from now.

Who: For Bowpi and anyone who has grieved the loss of a pet, with DJ Microtone (M.C.)
When: Tuesday, August 4th, 2020, 12:00pm to 3:00pm Pacific Time
Where: KALX 90.7 FM Berkeley on terrestrial radio, for the link to the online stream (upper right hand corner)

20151228 KALX

The full show as it is meant to be heard will only air LIVE, during this specific time and place. The radio station licensing agreements do not permit us to post or share archives of shows, so you’ll have to catch the broadcast on Tuesday, or never. I may share a modified, music-only playlist later. The ephemerality of radio is a fitting medium, in its own particular way, to commemorate the fleeting presence of a most beloved, precious pet.

Roll of 28, Day 28: Yesterday’s clouds were dramatic — today is ok


20150228: Yesterday's clouds were dramatic -- today is okay

I’m making an exception on the final day of Roll of 28 and officially registering this shot a day late, instead of backdating it to the last day of February, where it belongs. Oh, how these whirlwind days rend asunder all my best-laid plans…

Alas, I didn’t get to capture the sunset at its most brilliant. I haven’t figured out how to import from my album of mindpictures.

Thanks for indulging me in another round of Roll of 28, this annual February ritual. I retreat now to relative silence again. This blog is usually reserved for more thoughtful writings, and I just don’t have the headspace to draft dog-centric texts worth sharing right now. I fully expect the words to return again. In the meantime, you can peep images on my Instagram. Dog-specific pictures are usually pushed through to the Tumblr that I don’t otherwise maintain. Rest assured that this WordPress site remains as the primary dwelling for the House of Two Bows, and they are doing well.

Until next time.