But you can call her Xochitl (So-chee).
She's Paco's new sister and the story goes something like this...
One day we left the hotel in Oaxaca and I saw a woman walking a beautiful Xoloitzcuintle down the street. Stunned by its beauty, I stopped in my tracks and started gawking. Eventually she caught me staring so, not wanting to be rude, I mustered up my best Spanish and called out, "Me gusta su Xolo!"
She looked puzzled so I tried again, "Me gusta su perro!"
"Oh, thank you!" she answered, in English.
As we continued walking Aaron asked me what the heck a Xoloitzcuintle was, an innocent enough question that elicited from me a several-block-long-dog-nerd-monologue that explained the Meso-American history of the breed, my lifelong fascination with them, cataloged every personal interaction with one I've ever had, how Frida and Diego owned them, and the exact circumstances that would have to exist in order for me to actually own one (Xolos have a tendency to be shy around strangers so early socialization is key). My speech was interrupted by another Xolo sighting (see previous post for the proof).
The next day we went on the hunt for a good outdoor cafe. And by "outdoor cafe" I mean "a place to drink beer outside". While wandering the streets we stumbled across an art gallery. As I stepped into the courtyard I recognized the first Xolo from the day before.
This time I struck a conversation with the owner about her dog. She's owned many breeds but is now completely sold on Xolos. I asked her about the breed presence in Oaxaca and she explained the regional differences in conformation. "You know," she said, "there's this woman artist up the road that has a litter right now. You should go see them."
Suddenly feeling like a Bigfoot hunter with a good lead on a fresh set of tracks, I sat eagerly as she drew me a map to the house. Strangely enough she only lived a short walk from our hotel in the neighborhood of Xochimilco (So-chee-meel-co).
After a good lunch, we stopped by the hotel then headed up the hill to the neighborhood of Xochimilco. We were told to "ask anyone" should we get lost and, sure enough, everyone we asked was able to point us toward the house that held the "perros sin pelo" (dogs without hair).
The owner, Gabriela, was not at home, but she lived in a compound and several people were knowledgeable about the history of the dogs. Goya had six pups, they said, three with hair and three without. The ones with hair were given away and Demian Flores had just taken the one hairless male. The two remaining puppies were both 8 weeks old and female which, unfortunately, fit the exact specs of what would work well in our household. Of the two, the smaller one was far cuter.
That would be this one:
After playing with the puppies and Goya we went on our way. "Did you hear her?" I asked Aaron, "the puppies are only 1,000 pesos! We paid more for that painting."
"No, she said 4,000 pesos," he replied. My heart sunk a little, but it still seemed unbelievably cheap to me since Xolos are so rare in the states. In our heads we named her "Xochimilco" and she was Paco's personal bedwarmer, but we knew it was just a dream. We didn't have the time/space/want for another dog, let alone a puppy. Not to mention the idea of buying a dog just seemed wrong to me.
But as the night progressed I couldn't get her out of my mind. People would have intense conversations around me and all I could do was go through every imaginable combination of issues that involved owning two dogs. In the past, every once in a while I would crave a second dog, but the feeling would pass and I would be happy I'd stuck to my guns.
But this time it was different. Topping out at around 15 lbs, that meant a full grown Xochitl could travel with us and, being a fairly low energy breed, the demand for extra exercise and attention wouldn't be there in the long run. In fact, aside from twice the feeding, it was hard to see why fitting my dream breed into our lifestyle wouldn't work. And, let's face it, it's not every day a Xolo puppy with beautiful parents and temperament comes your way.
We talked about it late into the night. "Listen," I told Aaron, "I'm going to call the breeder in the morning and meet with her. I need to be talked out of this but it can't come from you. I need to ask the right questions and see for myself it's a bad idea."
After breakfast the next morning I called the number and spoke with Gabriela. She was on her way to the mountains for the weekend with Goya but had already sent me an e-mail through the Paco Collars website explaining the price for the pups was actually 6,000 pesos (!), we were welcome to go visit, and that her housemate had all the paperwork and could answer our questions.
Up the hill we went again, this time with Aaron's father, his brother, and his brother's girlfriend. Enamored with the puppies, they didn't help at all. And I didn't get the answers I wanted. The puppies already had shots, this was Goya's last (and I believe only) litter, the sire had been carefully selected by the family veterinarian to expand the bloodline. This was getting harder to say "no" to and unbeknownst to me, after turning down several people, Gabriella had already researched us and had selected us to be the parents to the one pup that was for sale (the pup we didn't choose would go back to Goya's breeder's family).
This time, going back down the mountain, it was Aaron who was sold. "Xochimilco Poe. No, Xochimilco Bautista," he mulled, trying on several last names.
"No, it's Xochimilco Gonzales," I said, fitting his mother's maiden name onto the dog. But we still both knew it was a bad idea. So we decided to set up some alternate hurdles. And down those hurdles came, one by one.
His parents, who we expected to be opposed to the idea, actually endorsed it and offered to cover the extra pesos we lacked.
It turned out the customs procedures for puppies are actually quite lax, and our airline told us they could fly the dog out for a small fee.
But there was still one major hurdle, and it wasn't until after nightfall that the landlord finally got back to us an okayed the addition of a second, small dog. At this point we had been hand-wringing for several hours, since we didn't want to fully commit until we heard from him, but were also due to leave Oaxaca the next morning.
As this final puzzle piece fell into place, we knew it was meant to be... all the stars had lined up just right. As we bustled back up the hill in the dark, I likened the decision to an unplanned pregnancy: sometimes you things just happen when you least expect it, but in giving it an appropriate amount of thought you see there's no reason why you can't make it work with just a little bit of rearranging.
We left the compound with a small, warm bundle wrapped in a scarf in Aaron's arms. "I suddenly feel like one of those celebrities that goes to a foreign country and comes back with a little brown baby," he said.
More to follow...
And the person who came closest to guessing the surprise from the previous post was Jane but she doesn't win the 100 pesos since she described Xochitl as being "one of those ugly little dogs" and, as you can see, she's quite adorable.