Pam and I were not empty nesters very long.
Youngest daughter Erin left for college at Southern Miss in early August. A week before that her dog, Lady, went to live with oldest daughter Emma in North Little Rock, Ark., and her dog Betty.
Lady is really loving it there, and we knew she would. Lady and Betty are big, friendly, spoiled dogs. They're also great companions, and Emma has a nice, fenced-in backyard for them to exercise.
Since Lady moved to Little Rock (until Erin has her own apartment or house on down the line), Pam has been searching and at the same time patiently waiting for the right small dog to come our way.
We haven't had a small dog since the death of our beloved Shih Tzu Daisy a few years back. We still have her photo and collar on constant display in our house. She was great.
A few months ago, son Andy and daughter-in-law Brooke got a miniature Schnauzer. J.J. adapted quickly, and now rules the roost at their house. And Pam and I love it when J.J. comes to stay with us occasionally.
A few weeks ago, a Schnauzer was found roaming the streets of Tupelo, where Brooke and Andy live. They took it in, while lots of people used social media and other avenues to try to find the owner. That weekend, Andy and Brooke brought both J.J. and the rescue to our house. We loved it and knew there was a possibility we might keep the rescue if the owner did not come forward.
That Saturday afternoon, thank goodness, the owners were found. Brooke and Andy reunited Lukas with them, and it was indeed a happy reunion.
Just two days later, a lady who is part of a Schnauzer rescue group in North Mississippi had gone to neighboring Alabama to pick up a 10-yearold dog. Andy and Brooke had previously made us aware of this miniature Schnauzer, who had to be given up by her longtime owner, and they said she might be a possibility for us.
Pam made the contact with the rescue volunteer from Nettleton via cell phone, and the next thing we knew we were driving to New Albany to meet Bella.
Her tiny, 13-pound body was trembling not sure what awaited her. She rode in Pam's arms back to Holly Springs at about 9 that night.
But it didn't take her long to start enjoying her new surroundings and new owners.
I started reading up on miniature Schnauzers and found they're watchful, courageous, full of energy, easily trained and loyal to family.
Bella loves to run in our yard, loves to jump up on the sofa, loves to stay as close to Pam and I as she can, loves to play with a couple of special toys. She only barks when she hears us arrive home each after noon.
She loves to sleep in our bed, too, something I swore would never happen a dog in our bed.
We've been blessed over the years by taking in either rescue dogs or ones surrendered by owners for various reasons. We continue that with the addition of Bella. We're so happy to have her, and we think the feeling is mutual.
I knew a day or two after we had her, when she licked my face about 7 a.m., things were going to be OK.