As a pet parent, I am asked what the name tag of the little doggy I take for a walk means and how it is pronounced.

XOLO. His name tag proudly glitters from his neck collar. Oh, just a minor detail- I am the pet grandmother. My niece glares at my first sentence, and I hurriedly clarify the actual relationship.

Zolo, I say. Not Sholo- as the Chinese would say, I explain. “Why then is the spelling not Zolo?” Xolo is the Shih Tzu who is a breed from China. So, would my Chinese-origin friend Shi Wen call my Xolo Sholo or Zolo, or maybe like my brother call him Ex-OLO? Ex-OLO is a hail, I say.

I must ask Zolo. I ask him many things. For only he listens. Intently. Cocking his head, his ears perking up. His blue eye turned red, indicating that he had comprehended the questions. His other eye remains brown to show that he can still be himself despite what I throw at him. I go to him when I have been gently nudged away by all my friends. They tire of my incessant chatter and inquisitive questions. No, not my Xolo. I go to him when my family suddenly becomes busy – this generally happens when they see my purposeful stride and know I will rain upon them a barrage of questions. Oh, I do go to my foes, and there are many! They mollycoddle me, for they know that giving me an answer would mean my victory.

Not my friends, family, or foes- no one comes close to my Xolo. Meanwhile, Xolo has decided that he is better off listening to the soft mewing of the kitties than the rant of the human- who is, he decides, currently going through an intense burst of unbridled schizophrenia.

Now, you tell me, dear reader, if you get a listening ear, which in its intensity is now open through the pink flesh of his ear into his beautiful, charming, and delightful mind. With an attentive undivided audience, no opinion, and a final lick of approval, would you let that dream scenario go? I am betting on my last shoe (I don’t care for my dollars as much as I care for my shoe); you would not.

Did I hear you say you would? Would you let such an audience go? Oh, I get it- your other audience, the human friend is around you, and you must massage their ego. How can you, in front of them, say that my dear Xolo has better listening skills which would instantly put them to shame thousand times over? You would rather eat your words than lose their company. I leave you to them. When you are ready, pause your thoughts and pace, take a deep breath, admit that you would rather be with Xolo, and read on.

I pull him back from his viewing audience. Did I mention the white cat is his favorite (or maybe it is brown, beige, white, and a shade of grey. Blue, if you must, the color of his eyes)? I bribe him with his bone-shaped biscuit. I love how I can draw him quickly. I practice this daily, sometimes up to twice a day, maybe more. Ten times? Anything to keep him by my side.

I, a pet parent, digress. I apologize. The crucial debate is still on. Xolo is Sholo, Zolo, or Ex-Olo. Let’s look at some of the Xolos of the world and add in a few names that start with X.

• Xolo Mariduena, an actor in Miguid Diaz’s Netflix Cobra Kai Handsome hunk of the series. I can repeat it because I am on fifty’s right side and granted such liberties. He is Show-lo- Mariduena.
• Xoloitzcuintli, a Mexican hairless dog, goes as Show-low-it-queeny. Hairless. Xolo wouldn’t like that.
• Xian- A city in China. Shee-an it is!
• Xolo, the Zolo, not Sholo, who is a Shih Tzu.

Floppy ears and Stately slouchy stance- playful and friendly. He is not known to be the most obedient breed- it suits me and my personality. Anti-establishment, I call my militant self. Lovable monster, my teammate told me. Xolo and I, I and Xolo (oops, Donkey at last, or my grammar school teacher told me). So Xolo and I get along just fine.

All things Chinese, as my research says.

The name comes from the Chinese word “Lion” since they resemble the lion. In contemporary mandarin, Shih Tzu is generally known as Xi Shi dog (bless them – it become Shi-shi or She-She), one of the most beautiful women of ancient China. The Shih Tzu originated in Tibet, probably around the 7th century, and they may have simply been the smallest of the Lhasa Apsos there. Given as gifts to the Chinese emperors, the breed developed into the dog we recognize today. They were a favorite of the Chinese royals. Foot warmers, I am told. Now this history, I tend to agree, for I have practical experience when he cuddles up on my feet.

Do you remember those guardian lions on your visit or the imagined visit to the exotic east? (oh, now – you did bring that souvenir, didn’t you? The one in the corner of your living room that you show about your travels east). These guardian lions are Xolos lioned form. I am not telling Xolo this history of his and the privilege his breed has for his soft bark is preferred to the lion’s roar (I get enough of that from the society I live in).

The male Shih Tzu’s nature is known to carry energy and wisdom as his primary traits.  And he comes to me to show the white patch on his head- to remind me that it is called “the Buddha’s kiss” for a reason.

He has had enough attention through these words and pulls my glasses off; he is no longer my friend. For I calculate the cost of the time and effort that will be required to replace those.

Till the next time he licks and makes up for his insolence. Adieu!