It was right after Sili had dug a hole to let herself out of the dog/chicken run 2 days in a row. It was clear things were not working as they were. Sili was going to have access to the whole 2 acres whether i wanted her to or not. I made up my mind. It was time. I browsed craigslist in the nearest big city for the next few days. There was nothing there. Every adult aussie for sale had behavioral problems and the puppies were over a thousand dollars a piece. Most of them were mini aussies which meant they wouldn’t grow past 15 to 30 lbs. that was not what i was looking for. I needed a regular sized aussie…a ranch dog. I expanded my search to Dallas and Waco. One afternoon, i had just gotten home from work when i hit refresh on the craigslist page i was looking at and a new post popped up on my screen. The ad was out of lockhart, 2.5 hours away from where i was. The post advertised australian shepherd puppies, healthy, weaned, and 300 bucks a piece. The pictures showed what looked like healthy plump pups. I called the number listed immediately and inquired about the puppies. The woman said that she had 8 puppies to sell. I called about fifteen minutes later to tell her i was heading out now and she said she had 3 puppies left. Aussies go fast. The ad clearly said “no holds allowed” in bold print type. I thought to myself, “this is ridiculous. You’re gonna be half way down the drive when she sells the last 3. It’s a 2 and a half hour drive to lockhart. How on earth do you think this trip is going to be fruitful?” In an instant a calm washed over me and i wasn’t anxious at all. A little voice in my head said “this is the dog.” I thought, “well, i guess we’ll just keep driving in that direction until we hear otherwise.” So i set out on the road. I was almost out of gas and it seemed every fuel station was on the other side of the highway for 22 miles. I can’t explain it. I passed a few but by the time i saw them i had passed the entrance. When i did find a gas station it was a costco fuel center and you couldn’t buy gas without a valid costco card. So i drove on. There was no time to stop for a crate or supplies. I already had to stop at the bank two towns over to get the 300 dollars cash for the puppy. On top of this? There was no address. I was just driving aimlessly in the direction of lockhart. The sellers didn’t want their address on craigslist so they told me to drive to lockhart and they’d give me instructions from there. If i couldn’t get ahold of them in lockhart, i may end up driving 5 hours round trip with nothing to show for it. I was trusting that the little voice in my head knew something i didn’t and that the absence of anxiety i felt was of something bigger than myself. As i was driving something told me to call the woman from the post one more time. I thought, “she’s just going to think i’m pushy. She already knows i’m coming. Just leave it alone.” The voice persisted in my head and i felt an overwhelming urge to pick up the phone so i dialed the number one more time. I let her know that i was stuck in traffic but i was coming and i was on my way. She said, “are you almost here? There’s one left.” I explained that i was still an hour and a half out and stuck in rush hour traffic but doing my best. She said, “an hour and a half…where are you coming from?” I told her again the name of my little town. She told me to wait while she looked it up on her phone. When she came back to me she said, “oh my word, you’re two and a half hours away. Sweetie that’s a long way to drive for a dog.” I said, “well, i’ve been looking for a companion for my current dog to keep her company on the land and i just had a feeling that this was the one.” She said, “i know i said no holds but since you’re coming all that way, we’re just going to tell people they’re all gone. It’s a female. She’ll be here when you get here. Don’t rush. Drive safely. Call us when you make it to lockhart and we’ll direct you from there.” I drove on through the traffic as the sun hung lower and lower in the sky. I knew i would be racing the pet store closing hours after i picked her up because there was no pet store in lockhart. I would have to hurry back to a big city to get her food and supplies or it would be a long night with a hungry new baby. I was just focused on getting there. When i arrived in lockhart i called the woman who made the post but she didn’t answer. I waited ten minutes and called again. Still no answer. I wondered if she sold the puppy. I thought about turning around but something wouldn’t let me. I turned the car off and sat in the parking lot. Suddenly the phone rang. It was the woman’s husband. He was prepared to give me directions to their house. After following a series of instructions he informed me there was no cell service past this point and said to just keep driving on the road i was on for 3.5 miles until i saw a man in shorts standing by the side of the road and then turn left into the drive. I did just as the man said. I got out of the car and shook his hand. He introduced himself and i did the same. I thanked him for the instructions. The woman who had made the post came out of the double wide with a baby gate on the open door. She lifted a little puppy over the gate and set it on the deck where it ran around her feet. I walked through the yard to where she was. She stood barefoot on the deck and picked the puppy up, lifting it towards me. Here she is. There’s only one left. She licked my face. The woman said, “aw! She already loves you!” I stood in awe. It was so much smaller than it had looked in the photos. It was tiny. It barely had inklings of four little teeth in its mouth. It was still so little and compact. It was young. I had never had a puppy this young before. An immediate wave of fear washed over me at how i would keep this fragile thing alive. However, it was plump and didn’t have any mangy spots where its hair was thinning. No visible sores. It wasnt sneezing and didn’t have any eye or nose discharge. It seemed like a really healthy puppy, and obviously friendly. The woman put it in my hands. I held it against my chest and immediately it was all over. The dog was coming home with me. I handed the woman the 300 dollars and they gave the puppy her next dose of dewormer before i took her. They told me to drive safe and i put the puppy in the car on a towel in the passenger seat. I stared at it in awe. It was so much younger than i had realized. I would later find out she was 6 or 7 weeks when i brought her home that night. She was 5 lbs and i could hold her in one hand. She started out on the towel but kept disappearing down the side of the seat. As i raced the clock to the city to make it to the pet store i placed her in my lap beneath the steering wheel and she enjoyed an occasionally restless nap. I parked and carried her into the petsmart 10 minutes before they officially closed. I said to the employees, “i need help.” They gathered around the brand new puppy. I said, “i need a crate, a collar, a leash, puppy pads, food and water bowls, an id tag, gluten free puppy food preferably with salmon if you have it, a chew toy for puppies, and a flea comb and i need it in 10 minutes.” One of the employees got me a new puppy coupon book, another grabbed a basket, and the rest scattered gathering the supplies i had listed. They were amazing; a true dream team as the clock counted down. They got me to the cash register one minute before closing and let me stay 5 minutes more to etch her an id tag on the machine dubbing her “Cashew”, the newly adopted addition to our family. A trunk full of new furry baby supplies, a new life sleeping in my lap, i drove back to the hill country in the surreal silence of the darkness. I called my mother to break the news. I told her what i had in my lap. She was surprised. I told her how little it was and how scared i was to break it. She assured me it wouldn’t break, that it was sleeping comfortably in my lap and it would be fine until i got home. I kept putting my hand on its torso to make sure it was still breathing. It was just so little. When i got Cashew home i quarantined her in the bathroom until she could be checked over by a vet, for Sili’s protection. Both sili and our cat at the time got a new dose of flea protection on the spot that night because the puppy was too young for it and visibly covered in them. I had a long road ahead of me to situate, raise, and train this pup but she was in the home and our new journey had begun.