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.
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.