Sunday, February 28, 2010

Birthday Wishes for Our Guardian

The truth is, we don't really know when he was born, or where he was born. We defaulted to the last day of February, so we'd never forget. According to his first physical at the vet's office, we calculated his birth "around this time".

A couple of summers ago, my girls were desperate to have a dog. It was the kind of desperation, which made me feel like a bad father. That other kids had dogs, and we were somehow depriving them of such a joy.

There were several reasons we had held back on finding a canine addition to mia famiglia...

1. We were still mourning the loss of Joey, who left our house one day never to be seen again. He took with him Jazmin, our younger Blue Heeler, who we're sure was snatched up by someone out there. Joey, however, was an older dog, sick and tired. I'm sure he didn't make it. We couldn't bear the thought of another dog for a while.

2. Once we got used to not having to worry about pets, it was hard getting back in that state of mind.

3. The kind of dog "we" (I used that word loosely, as it was more like "they") wanted was, shall we say, not inexpensive, certainly if we found one via a breeder or the like. The ladies wanted something furry and small for inside the house.

Up until that point, I had only had large dogs. Small dogs gave me a headache. I couldn't stand their usual high energy, ceaseless barking and biting, and attitude. I was not at all excited about having some little yappy dog give me an attitude when I came home from work. However, the tender looks of defeat I got from my girls made me give in.

So, the search began.

By the way, the thought of walking a small dog of any variety (because as much as the girls said they would do it, I knew better) around my barrio did not inspire pleasant thoughts. I'm not necessarily known as a man's man, but I do have a sports and semi-man's man reputation to up hold.

I was not going to get a Poodle. End of that story.

I was not going to get a Chihuahua, either. End of that story part deux. I don't care how funny the movie was.

I did like the Shih Tzu-esque variety. Something that looked like a walking mop.

Preliminary searches brought about many pictures that made all the ladies ooh and aah. We had found our breed. Then came the surprising revelation that these gorgeous creatures came with a tag of between $300 and $500, depending on sex and breeder. I was able to sweet-talk a lady to $250, but I wasn't sure it was my charm that got that price, rather than a not-so-healthy dog.

The search went on for 3 good months. My girls printed generic Shih Tzu pictures and glued them to their school folders. The pressure was mounting.

I was one step away from driving to the lady and the $250 Tzu, when I happened to see an offer of desperation on Craigslist. It read something like this...

"Need caring family to adopt Shih Tzu puppy. Have seven children, and getting another dog was a mistake -- for the dog. My kids are going to kill him one day. He doesn't get any sleep. And, the pit bull he has to call "roomie" scares the heck out of him. Just reimburse me vet fees."

So, I e-mailed the person to get more details. After talking, I had a good feeling about this. That and I kept looking at the picture he posted online, and the poor little fella looked so scared. We agreed to meet and I would pay him $100 for vet fees in exchange for the Shih Tzu they called, Emilio. Wish I still had the picture on Craigslist.

The day of the meeting, I called him to make sure we were still on, as the meeting place was not close to home.

No answer.

The good thing was, we had not told the girls yet. It was going to be a surprise, or at least we hoped it would be.

In fact, he did not answer for two more days. I had lost hope. I was sure he and The Brady Bunch in Dallas had decided to keep Emilio.

On day three, and almost -- again -- too late, he called. I was already talking to the $250 Tzu owner, again.

He said he had a nasty accident at work, nearly cutting his entire hand off. Wow! Good reason to be incognito.

The deal was still on, and actually reduced fees to $80 for the drive to Dallas.

Idaly and I went to pick him up. We had no clue what to expect. We met Mr. Almost-No-Hand, and the exchange was brief and fast.

Emilio was as he looked in the picture, white with brown patches and "totally adorable," as Idaly called him. He rode on Idaly's lap, shaking but not barking.

We immediately took him to the girls, who were with Aunt Tu. At the sight of the little Shih Tzu, they were soooooo surprised.

Still no barking.

And, actually, after he sniffed around for a bit, he curled up under a chair and fell asleep. That's what he did for two days -- sleep. Poor fella.

A re-naming was in order, and Snowball is what the girls called him right away. He rarely barks. He sleeps all night without incident in his kennel. And as long as we stick to a schedule, he has very few accidents inside.

And, he's totally devoted to me (of course, I feed him, walk him, et al. Why wouldn't he be devoted to me?)

He's my buddy.

So, wherever you came from, Snowball (candidly named No-balls by my male friends after his snipping surgery), happy bday pal.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

2010. A Day Late

I do realize I'm way more than a day late in posting for the year, and I really wish I had a great, worthy excuse for the few fans I managed to accumulate -- I don't.

Call it lazy.

Call it borderline mid-life crisis.

Call it overworked.

Call it overwhelmed.

The truth is, sometime between Labor Day 2009 and Super Bowl XLIV, I felt totally worn out.

In fact, I probably owe an apology to my family and close friends, who have asked, "What is wrong with you?" Nothing specific, at least that I'm aware of. As one of my birthday wishes from a high school friend states, "Hope you have a blessed year."

I not only had a blessed year, but also am blessed for what I have everyday.

The grind and the pressures can get to you, if you let them.

I've been meaning to re-fire my blog for those who do visit, and today I learned of a really funny story, which inspired me to start writin'. That and one of our local bars announced on their marquee, "Failure is the condiment which gives success its flavor."

Not that I feel I've failed. But, as I get older (a good friend warned me) I do feel like I haven't been all I can be -- especially to my girls.

Anyhow, some funny stuff:

Besides recently getting married, and besides traveling the world as a flight attendant, a cousin of ours relates a tale involving a generic Q-tip, four ear flushes and eargasms. I still haven't gotten the skinny on eargasms, but I'm sure it involves the sensation felt upon using said instrument, das Q-tip, in the ear canal, though if you came from a family like mine, they ALL said NOT to use Q-tips for the specific reason I'm about to describe.

She, our very funny and loving cousin said, "Last PM I was enjoying a 'generic Q-tip'. When I pulled it out of my ear, the cotton was gone! I sent my husband to the drug store in freezing rain (we are in NYC) for some tweezers (another wonderful, but terribly dangerous instrument for the ear canal -- author's note), and we tried for an hour to reach the cotton but nothing! Today I went to my doctor, and he flushed my ear four times until it came out finally! During a recession, don't use generic Q-tips."

The story is much more funnier [sic] for those of us who know her, the ever-faithful Cowboys fan, former Yankees fan, and soon-to-be Red Sox fan by marriage. The visual of her and Mr. K using tweezers to find the missing cotton in her ear canal alone had me rolling. And because she laughed the whole thing off (compared to my probable hysteria), I said to myself, "It's time to put that on paper, er, virtual paper."

Wonderful dates:

One of my favorite dates during the year is the Daddy Daughter Dance. This was our third time, and I was very honored my girls still want me as their date.

This one was organized and given by the City of Arlington, and they did a wonderful job. We actually have a second one coming up, as these dances have become very popular in our area with good reason. The girls looked beautiful and certainly made me look way better than I really should look. Because it is our third time, and because they are older now, the night was a lot more fun. The first time we went, I spent my time worried and sweating, making sure I never lost sight of them amongst the 1500 or so who usually attend. This time they pointed out things to me and knew exactly what to do. As long as I live I will never forget these nights with my girls.

I also met this guy at the Slant 45 kick off celebration at our school. As a member of the Dad's Club I got to be a part of this great project, which is also part of the overall Super Bowl XLV celebration.

Daryl "Moose" Johnston was part of the great three-time Super Bowl champion Cowboys squad, and was in fact sporting one of those rings on this occasion. Those dads in the room made sure our children knew who he was.

He and several A.I.S.D. V.I.P.'s were in attendance.

And speaking of exciting stuff, Mrs. Commish has really, really done well with her new gig. I think something she told me a long time ago is finally coming to fruition. Back when I met her and did my best to convince her to marry me, she would often say, "I wanted to be a social worker and work with kids, but I realized I might get too involved and want to bring them all home with me."

Well, she hasn't brought any kids home, yet. However, she has started a couple of new programs at school as their family representative, and the people who attend these programs have really, really, really thanked her for being there. She's also received a lot of praise from the school's faculty and administration. You should see the Christmas and Valentine's gifts she has received from grateful parents, faculty, students and administration.

Her success, as she turned her life in a different direction from a 15-year career as an interior designer, has really inspired me.

And, of course, we anxiously await the birth of Najera grandchild #5. We do k now it's a girl, and she is due to make her showing in March.

So, there's a couple of examples of wonderful things going on in my life. I still owe my football fantasy league a closing statement of Season VII, which I will soon post.

I hope to post regularly and will advise when I do.