It totally feels crazy that Bob and I are pretty much letting our dogs decide which house we're buying. We find ourselves saying to each other, "Nah, we can't move there; we'd be too far from the creek they love to swim in."  "Where we are right now, we can just walk out the front door and let them run in the forest - can't move into a subdivision." "Plotinus loves lying outside on the deck; do you think this deck is really big enough for him?" "OMG LOVE this house, but the creek here is way more treacherous than the one at the bottom of the mountain. Probably should pass on this one."

On it goes. No house seems quite right for Damasio and Plotinus.

And it isn't only the house itself. It's the stuff inside it. I'm ready to downsize and want to get rid of a lot of furniture. Like the formal living room set... except that Damsi sleeps every night on that particular chair. Two grossly oversized chairs in the basement went on the to-go list, but Bob said the dogs curl up on both of them during the day while he's working; the chairs are right outside his office. The funky white chairs attract Damsi during late afternoon for some reason, and Tinus loves the useless (to us) leather ottoman in my office.

"You know, Bob, this is really crazy," I said as we watched the dogs plunge into the creek, run wildly across a massive field chasing each other, then plunging back into the creek. "Do you realize that we're actually rejecting about a dozen houses because they don't suit the dogs? I mean, that is just sad. Or sick. Or weird."

But as the days passed and we rejected more houses, then went home and headed out for a walk through the mountains with our dogs, we suddenly got it. This is the happy stuff that our everyday life is made of. Yes, we take several great trips each year; in the past six months we've been to Hawaii and NYC and DC - without our dogs. Some evenings we head into Denver to a hockey game, or to the Hudson Gardens for a classic rock concert on the lawn, or a festival where we dance the night away. Our careers, which we love, keep us busy and happy.

Yet isn't it the everyday stuff that really determines one's level of joy and contentment? Vacations and sporting events and entertainment are great, but we understand the essential goodness of our lives when we're baking brownies, enjoying little and big successes each day at work, playing cards, sitting on the deck, driving through the mountains - and watching our dogs in their bouncing-off-the-walls excitement as they lunge in and out of the creek and then tear off through the fields or mountains.

So we're OK with making sure our new home is near that creek and has a great deck and access to the forest where the dogs can run. I'm sure I can find space for my dogs' favorite chairs and that leather ottoman. Our dogs may be only one of our joys, but they are one of our everyday joys. And that's what life is all about.

Looking for that perfect home,