It’s been a few months since our sweet Mimi left this world. And just a few months before that, Toby. My husband and I lost both our dogs within a few months of each other. To say that it has been heartbreaking is an understatement. It’s supposed to get easier, but I can’t say it has. Sure, we don’t dwell on missing them every minute of every day. But, whenever we leave for a few hours, we both feel the pull of needing to get back to our dogs. It’s a sad moment remembering that we’re mistaken. We also had a last-bite habit. That is, every time we got down to the last bite of our dinner, we would give it to the dogs. I can’t count how many times I’ve found myself holding the bite and looking around for a pooch to give it to. Another sad moment. Basically, losing our dogs boils down to one sad moment after another. Gone are the silly snuggles in bed and the running around the property. Gone is the symbiotic mellowing of petting or brushing a canine companion. Gone are the long walks around the neighborhood—something that encourages both exercise and meeting all the neighbors out doing the same thing. Gone are many wonderful things that only sharing our lives with a dog can bring.

“ …we are undoubtedly dog people, and dog people without dogs are not complete.”

In an effort toward behaving responsibly, we decided not to get another dog until after our big trip out to Maine for our daughter’s wedding. That was because the training and bonding could be interrupted at the worst time, causing a backslide. It was a practical choice but not without sacrifice. We’ve tried to fill the dog energy void by sitting other dogs and making sure people who have dogs bring them along for visits. We do have a nice big fence and a dog door, after all.

We have the big wedding trip behind us now, also a convenient work schedule, and we’re feeling ready to find our new old dog friend. You see, we are undoubtedly dog people, and dog people without dogs are not complete.

Where to begin? We did a bit of research because we are trying to be broadminded. That is not an easy thing to do. We have been Labrador lovers for a very long time and it’s difficult to think otherwise, but we also see the advantages to having a smaller dog. For starters, if they are having mobility problems, they can be picked up, whereas lifting an 80+ pound dog can be punishing on the body. We’re not in our 30s anymore. We checked out Jack Russell Terriers, but don’t want to deal with their need to escape to explore, and their sometimes not-so-great behavior with children. Our tribe is gaining grandchildren. Then we looked into Havanese—we love our daughter’s Wall-E. But we’re not keen on the yap factor. We’ve been avoiding going straight to the shelters for two reasons: we would come home with three, and we are hoping to train a puppy. My husband is very good at training puppies to become amazing dogs. The angst over where and how to pick our next lifelong good ol’ boy is no small thing. Golden Retrievers are wonderful, but I do not relish the idea of removing the fur that has woven into e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. I’m curious about Australian Shepherds and Border Collies, but could we keep up with their boundless energy? Right now, yes, but 15 years from now? Well, that’s another thought. We live in too mountainous of an area for pocket pets. Any dog the size of or smaller than a rabbit is food for much of the wildlife that frequents the area. I don’t want to go into panic mode every time they go out for a potty break.

Most likely, we will worry ourselves into knots and then simply meet the right dog or settle on a breed to aim for, and then make our move. I have many stories from when our pups were still learning how to be responsible dogs. And many more endearing memories of them fully grown.

Once, having narrowed the area of freedom to the basement for our puppy, we came home to find a massacre of videos and their covers, several accidents, and the sad ruination of a dancing Santa Christmas decoration. Basically, it looked like a murder scene and Christmas was the victim. Every time, while getting ready to leave for work, I had to wait to put on stockings because she chased me around the room and never failed to put a run in them. She grabbed the hem of my long skirt in her teeth and pulled and growled like it was a toy. Quite frankly, puppies are terrors, capable of ruining house and home in record time. But they also come with puppy breath—one of the best scents on earth—and are ripe to train and bond with their humans.

Whatever pup we wind up with, we intend to make it part of our family—to welcome it into our tribe and to give it a loving home for life. Our new forever ol’ friend is out there waiting. Let’s hope we connect very soon because there are a couple hearts here with holes that need mending.