After our heartbreaking experience at the shelter on Sunday, I woke up Monday to an email from my friend Elissa who works at the Humane Society; Emma's ashes were ready to be picked up. So yesterday after work I headed back to the shelter, to pick up what was left of Emma in a little cardboard box. I instantly felt guilty about having been there the day before, to look for new animals while Emma still hadn't been returned to us.

It sounds exceedingly corny, but I think we needed to wait for Emma to come home, to lead us to the next animal to care for.

I say this because with the little cardboard box cradled in my left hand, Elissa and I strolled down to the dog adoption area to see if anything new had arrived. Of course I knew some had, since I had the RSS feed for the Humane Society's adoptable animals loaded in my feedreader and I had been keeping one eye trained on it all day. And that is why I knew that there was a little five month-old Labrador & Border Collie mix named Hooper milling around in there somewhere.

Didn't take me long to find him, and it took even less time than that to fall in love with him. I went home, got Brenda and we went rocketing back to the Humane Society, where we petted little Hooper and immediately placed a hold on him. Having been neutered that day, we could not take him out of his kennel, so we came back today on my lunch break and spent some leash time with him, melted a little more, and decided to commit to this insane agreement to raise a dog. We're looking forward to it, we are doing all we can to educate ourselves, and tomorrow when he comes home we'll start the grand adventure.

This is not an impulse thing. Brenda & I have wanted a dog for a very long time, but living conditions and Emma's independence had made that a non-option until now. We know these breeds are high-energy. We know we'll be walking him four times a day. We know he will eat stuff he's not supposed to, and crap it out the other end where he's not supposed to. We know there's a lot more to know and learn. But we're ready to have a go at this. A crate is set up. Chew toys and kibbel are in da house. Tomorrow night, we bring Hooper home, and start thinking about his new name, but I have to say, Hooper--the name and the dog--is starting to grow on me already.

Meet Hooper!