Last Christmas, the three Shyba kids sat on Santa's lap in Manhattan and asked for a dog.
Mom and Dad said no.
But the family moved to Santa Cruz this year and changed their minds. Earlier this month, they adopted "Theo," an adorable boxer-Labrador-German shepherd mix.
U.S. & World
Suddenly, they're stars.
Their story — documented in pictures of Theo and the youngest Shyba child, Beau — has gone viral.
Mother Jessica Shyba's blog, Momma's Gone City, has received 200,000 clicks in the last two days, and she's been given a shout-out by the Today Show, Ellen DeGeneres and a slew of other talk shows, all because she captured Instagram photos of her puppy and 23-month-old, blond-haired toddler sleeping together at naptime.
"It's so weird," Shyba told NBC Bay Area Monday morning. "But I'm just rolling with it."
"Rolling with it," meant waking up at 1:30 a.m. Monday to drive more than an hour to San Francisco, where she was a guest on Fox and Friends. Theo and Beau sat in Shyba's arms, or rather, struggled in her arms as she gave her interview, both obviously tired from the early morning drive and stress. At one point, Shyba gave up the puppy to a news crew member to keep them apart. Afterwards, she took Beau to his doctor's appointment and waited for an NBC Bay Area crew to show up at her house.
"It's really hard for me to put into words how I'm feeling," said Shyba, who has been toiling on her blog for four years. "I woke up the other night in a panic, so scared because this is my family, the most important thing to me."
She only began photographing her son and puppy within the last week or so. But the story began last Christmas in Manhattan. That's when Shyba, who'd moved to New York City while her husband was in dental school, took her kids to see Santa at Macy's Santa Land in Herald Square. The kids asked for a dog.
At the time, she and her husband, Justin Shyba, said they couldn't make it work with school loans and a tiny place to live.
Then they moved back to Santa Cruz, where Justin Shyba is now a practicing dentist in the nearby city of Soquel.
They wanted their children's year-old Christmas wish to come true. On Nov. 4, the family went to the Santa Cruz SPCA and adopted Theo.
Theo immediately responded to all the kids: Jack, 6, Zoe, 5, and Beau, the baby of the family and the only one of the Shybas who still naps.
Pretty soon, puppy and baby were bonding in sleep and Shyba began documenting all of it on her Momma's Gone City blog, calling it "the most organic and beautiful friendship I have ever witnessed." She also tweets under the handle @Mommasgonecity and her photos can be found under the hashtag #theoandbeau.
Renowned baby photographer Anne Geddess would be proud of these photos. One shows Theo's paw touching Beau's pacifier. Another shows the dog's chin on Beau's bare shoulder. Another shows the two snuggled together on their backs, Beau wearing a rainbow tank top and Sesame Street diapers.
Shyba said it's difficult to predict when Theo and Beau will sleep, and when she can zoom in for just the right image. She gets so excited sometimes, she said, that she's scared she'll wake them up.
Shyba, who went to fashion school in San Francisco, has been working as a mother of three, blogging as a hobby, though she does get paid by certain brands, such as Cottonelle and Pampers, if she mentions their products.
She acknowledged that her new fame will definitely be "good for business," though she declined to talk specifics. She's hoping to work on a book, and has talked to an agent about documenting the lives of her family.
Shyba is touched by the flood of emails that have been pouring in. Many fans simply enjoy witnessing the budding relationship between a young boy and his dog. Others have praised her as an animal advocate. Shyba hopes the attention will bring more donations to the SPCA.
"I'm just trying to keep my focus," Shyba said. "Celebrities come with the hope that fame is part of the package. But I just wanted to document my family life. This is certainly unprecedented."