Well, we did it. We took the plunge. We have a new family member.
His name is Jax.
After all my angst about what kind of dog to get, and where to get it, things mysteriously fell into place from an unexpected direction.
My sister's neighbor used to breed English Laborador Retrievers. They are the "show" labs, smaller, blockier, and more calm than the American version. She had a female that she was considering breeding. Well, she did get bred, by some mystery dog. The litter was born in April, and my sister got one of the puppies. The owners kept one puppy for themselves...that was Jax. Ultimately, the owners felt like they weren't able to give him the time he deserved, and wondered if we might be interested. He is housebroken, trained, and a wonderful dog. You can see how pretty he is:
He is a little bigger and a little more furry than I would have ideally liked, but the socialization he's had is pretty wonderful. And the age is perfect. He has a good foundation, but is still young enough to have that addictive puppy sweetness. The girls are at the perfect age as well. They are taking the responsibility of pet ownership seriously, and are very engaged.
Once again in my life, I find myself crooning encouraging words for good and timely potties and poopoos. And I will surely be one of those people who is eternally coated with white hairs.
I'm OK with that!