I think the thing that intensified my wanting a dog and led to my husband's agreeing to it was watching The Dog Whisperer on the National Geographic channel. If you have never seen it, it features a man named Cesar Millan who works with problem dogs. He is amazing with dogs, and has a very compelling story of his own. My husband started to say we could perhaps get a dog once he retired, then as that grew closer, that maybe we should wait until a year after he retired to see what our life was like. Then, this past year, he said we could perhaps get a dog in the spring.
The dog we ended up with was completely different from my fantasy dog. I thought I'd like a little bichon frise that I could pamper and dress in silly dog clothes and let sit on my lap. I was going to buy one of these from a reputable breeder at some point, but I have two friends at work who are dog lovers. One gently and persistently scolded and made me feel incredibly guilty for thinking about buying a dog, encouraging breeding, when so many dogs in shelters needed to be adopted. (She and her husband have had three rescue sheepdogs.) Another friend has a second job at the local Humane Society, and often talked about the little friends she fosters to save them from being euthanized.
I started looking for bichon frises on rescue sites. They were available, but often had some kind of big problem or weren't good with children. I learned though, that Petsmart had an adoption event the first weekend in May (this is a nationwide event that takes place at lots of pet supply stores, shelters, etc.) I had my husband pull in at a Petsmart when we were on the yuppie side of town buying wine, and Tad was the first dog we saw. We played with him for a while and liked him a lot. He was no bichon frise, though. He is a Chesapeake Bay Retriever mix (another part of the mix, being dachsund, we were told). My husband thought we should look around some more, including at the Petsmart on our side of town. I agreed, but couldn't stop thinking about Tad. We looked at other dogs, but I just really felt that Tad was our dog. It almost looked like it wasn't going to happen, but by the next Wednesday, he was home with us.