There could not possibly be a less good time to get a new puppy. To take on something else, to add to my list, to divide up in an eventual divorce. So what in the world brought me to the animal shelter yesterday afternoon?

We were supposed to adopt the puppy our friend found, right? At the eleventh hour, on the eve of pickup, negligent owner emerged to reclaim. Animal Control required to investigate. “A near miss!” said Dear Elder Widow neighbor. “How lucky!” said mother-in-law. “That was close!” said someone else. Boys not particularly bereft. They have a dog already, after all.

Despite having totally waffled about the foundling puppy once we committed to adoption, felt positive this was a tragic loss once puppy was no longer available. Spent weekend searching local shelter sites for a replacement. And using boys’ disappointment (virtually nonexistent) as justification. (They have a dog already…)

What is up? Why have I become suddenly obsessed with a new puppy when I already have enough vacuuming (much to my dismay, shelters not overflowing with goldendoodles and schnoodles), vet bills, and poop to scoop? Is this a less extreme version of having a baby to save a stressed-out marriage? Is it an effort at dispelling ennui? Of creating The Perfect Childhood for my boys or The Perfect Family for me and thereby foiling McDiesel’s best attempts to wreck both? Is it simply straight-up Spring Fever?

Do not know exactly, but pop psychology tells me I need something to save. Introspection reveals desperation to Come To The Rescue. Irony does not escape me; I’m begging to be rescued myself. So far, my crackerjack mother-moves are not saving McDiesel. My unconditional love, patience, self-sacrifice, and copays are not preventing him from telling me he’s going to kill me with the tire swing (attached to state-of-the-art playscape that he has at the expense of my soapstone countertops) or all the reasons he hates me on a daily basis (I’m washing his blankie, I can’t get him more milk and help him take off his socks at the same exact time [but almost]). Therapeutic interventions have been marginally and intermittently successful. Waiting on a metabolic panel.

Until then, I need something to rescue. I need something that will let me rescue it without a battle or a meltdown or a threat to kill me with the tire swing. I need to know I’m doing something good. I need to see my actions making a positive—actually, I’ll take any—difference. I need to take good care of something and have it act like it loves me for it. I need to be a hero—even if I’m only an unwanted little hound’s hero and not McD’s.

(This is more pathetic than I thought.)

Will I regret taking on a new puppy? Almost certainly. On the other hand, haven’t we maxed out on overwhelming as it is? Can more vacuuming, vet bills, or poop possibly make a noticeable difference? Are these the deal-breakers in my house and in my heart? Doubtful.

Plus, (do not dare tell Dear Elder Widow, mother-in-law, and everyone else) browsing puppies in need of fur-ever homes is much more benign (though not nearly as heroic) than other recent rescue mission: browsing photos of local foster kids. Surely fur-ever much less serious and much more manageable than forever?

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