The winter of 2014 was an exceedingly hard one for me. My mother passed away and I faced a significant health scare of my own. The call I received giving me the all clear on my follow-up tests was the first good news I’d had in weeks, and I let out a sigh of relief strong enough to rustle the spring buds on the trees outside my window. Maybe it was the giddiness of gratitude over my test results or maybe the low grade spring fever I was running, but what happened next was completely out of character for me. I hung up the phone and for the first time in my life, I went looking for love online. Looking for, as the kids say, a hook-up. With a total stranger.

Fingers trembling, I began Googling sites, nervous and embarrassed even though I was alone. I was scrolling through photo after photo of prospects, none of which caught my eye, when suddenly, there he was, staring out from the computer screen. Strawberry blond hair, flecked with gold, and light brown eyes that seemed to penetrate me. I was certain he was the one. Was it because he reminded me of a past love? Maybe, I don’t know. All I knew at that moment was I wanted him and I wanted him bad.

My heart was racing as I wondered if I could I really go through with it. Could I seriously bring a third party into our home to spice things up for my husband and me? To be honest, it had been a secret fantasy for a while. I hadn’t broached the subject with my husband, but I often sensed that he, too, felt something was missing in our relationship, an element of excitement that we’d lost along the way. We’d grown a bit too comfortable and predictable with each other. Maybe Mr. Brown Eyes was just what we needed to heat things up.

When my husband came home, I told him what I’d done. Initially reluctant, he finally agreed to meet Mr. Brown Eyes the following Saturday in a public place. I was delirious with delight.

“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” he said evenly. “Let’s just see how this goes. You and I both have to feel comfortable with him.”

I spotted him among the crowd the minute my husband and I walked through the door that fateful Saturday morning. He was even better-looking in person than in his photo, his reddish gold hair brilliantly shining in the morning sunlight that streamed through the window.

“Harper?” I asked rhetorically as I sidled up next to him.

He swung his head in my direction, his caramel-colored eyes meeting my gaze as he politely offered to shake my hand. When I heard him speak, I knew I was done for. And my husband wasn’t far behind. This guy had us at “Woof.”

From that moment on, there was little doubt that Harper was the third party we were looking for. He was a handsome boy with a sturdy build and a demeanor so dignified he practically barked with a British accent. In fact, if we had any reservation at all, it was that he seemed almost a little too reserved. I loved that he walked so nicely on his leash and sat calmly while my husband and I made all the adoption arrangements, but I was a little concerned that he might not be playful.

I needn’t have lost any sleep over the playfulness issue. Since my husband and I were going to be traveling the next few days, we arranged for the adoption coordinator to bring Harper to our house the following week. The dog that burst through our front door the next Saturday certainly looked like Harper, but he bore no resemblance in manner to the dog we’d met a week before. He was an explosive mix of nonstop jumping, spinning and rolling. He tore around the house at top speed, sending throw rugs sailing through the air like magic carpets and leaving a cloud of dust and dog hair in his wake. Every last vestige of reserve was gone and there was no doubt that he was barking in full-out, top-volume American!

My husband and I stared at each other in complete shock, only half joking when we wondered aloud if doggie Quaaludes had been involved the week before. Who knew, but one thing was certain—this was not the dog we had signed on the dotted line for, not the one we had agreed to take into our home and love forever. No, this was not that dog! This was a dog even more wonderful than we had realized the week before! We’d gone looking for someone to spice things up and now we had him–cayenne, curry and chili pepper rolled into one. Harper was the exact ingredient our lives had been missing. For the first time since our last dog, our wonderful “Jif the Exuberant,” had crossed the rainbow bridge, our home and our hearts felt complete.

It’s been two years since we bade farewell to order and tidiness and gratefully welcomed chaos and calamity back into our lives. We are awakened each morning with the poke of a wet nose instead of the buzz of an alarm clock and our time is measured in ear scratches and belly rubs, not minutes and hours. And we couldn’t be happier. Our third party, our online love, our wild, crazy and sweet, sweet, sweet Harper boy is truly the spice of our lives.

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