Vacation Chronicles 2015, the prologue. Make some popcorn.

Guess what! We’re in Maine! The annual Vacation Odyssey has begun. But first: I owe you a confirmation that we have indeed added a third canine to the family.

In my head right now I’m shouting the Tyrant’s favorite refrain: I’m sorry! It wasn’t my fault! I didn’t do anything IMG_2239 (1)wrong! although I’m only a teeny bit sorry, and it was totally my fault, and I guess I did something wrong.

Here’s how it went down.

Well. You know how I am. When I’m stressed I don’t think straight, and the past few weeks, what with the poor Pterodactyl being himself and me working hard to contain all my rage, a gazillion stress hormones have launched a military assault on my being. I can’t change my boy, and I don’t want to, except for the part where he prefers our hearts, souls, and kidneys to be surgically connected to each other. But when life isn’t easy and I can’t do anything to make it better, I engage in referred anxiety, a psychological term I invented myself in which I obsess over stuff that doesn’t matter so I can temporarily stop thinking about the exhausting stuff that does.

So I began obsessing about getting another dog, a thought that occurred to me after the little Tyrant lamented that she didn’t have her own service dog to help calm her down when she’s upset. Damn Gem is too old, and Buddy the Wonder Dog is for the Pterodactyl. She has a point, I thought. Wrongly.

For weeks, I combed rescue websites and Craigslist and humane society pictures. It made perfect sense! Hot Firefighter Husband occasionally checks my browsing history so he can be prepared for what’s coming next in our lives (Yurt-living in the Dominican Republic, anyone?) and he noticed the dog search trend. “We can’t get a third dog,” he said.

“I know!” I said. “Ha ha! Of course not! I’m just doing this for fun.” So weird how he doesn’t trust me.

The day before Mother’s Day, Husband worked at the fire station, and was on assignment at a golf tournament. I knew I wouldn’t be able to contact him. So I took the girls to a pet store where a rescue organization was set up trying to find homes for homeless dogs, and we picked up the first pup who looked at us – a brindle boxer-beagle mix with her tail firmly ensconced between her legs who seemed afraid of air.

“OH, MOM, I LOVE HER!” cried the Diva. “WE HAVE TO GET HER!” See? She practically forced me. We went to a nearby frozen yogurt shop to discuss it, and the girls promised they would do absolutely everything to take care of this dog – walk her, feed her, pick up her poop. Those were all lies. We decided to name her Yobe, after the name of the yogurt store.

We returned to the pet store, and the rescue woman nearly threw the dog in my lap before I could change my mind, which I had already done. I drove home in a heightened state of anxiety; we walked in the front door, and I knew I had made a terrible mistake. While the kids introduced Yobe to our OTHER TWO DOGS and to their brother, I paced the house madly. The rescue woman had said we had a week trial period, and could bring the dog back, no questions asked. Clearly that’s what had to be done. I still couldn’t bear to tell Husband; instead, I took a nap. On Mother’s Day morning, Husband came home after his shift and met Yobe. “Wow,” he said. “Cute. Who is she and when is she leaving?” The kids thought he was hilarious. I was sitting on the back porch waiting for my lashing. He walked outside and looked at me, shook his head, and said a kinder interpretation of DoubleU. Tee. Eff.

I started crying and said something like I’M SORRY, IT WAS A MISTAKE, I JUST COULDN’T STOP THINKING ABOUT IT, AND I THOUGHT IF I JUST DID IT I’D STOP THINKING ABOUT IT, WHICH I DID, BUT I DIDN’T THINK IT THROUGH, AND I’VE JUST BEEN SO STRESSED OUT I’M NOT THINKING STRAIGHT, I SHOULDN’T HAVE DONE IT, IT WAS WRONG, I SEE THAT NOW, I’M SORRY, I’M SORRY, I’M SORRY.

“Why didn’t you call me?” he asked.

“Because I knew you’d say no.”

“EXACTY,” he said. “THAT’S HOW WE WORK. You come up with crazy ideas, you bring them to me, and I talk you down.”

More crying ensued. “Well,” I said. “We can give her back. The rescue lady said we had a week to try it out. We’ll just say she didn’t get along with the other dogs or something.”

“Are you crazy?” said Husband. “You want to adopt a dog, give it to our adopted children, then decide you changed your mind? No. We have three dogs, and that’s final.”

See, this is why I love Hot Firefighter Husband. Because I never would have thought about it that way. I had made this entire sad episode all about me. Because I’m selfish.

Now we have three dogs. Damn Gem, who is like fucking Lazarus and in dog years is well into her 80s; Buddy the Wonder Dog; and Yobe, the scared little brindle who loves to snuggle and has wormed her way into everyone’s hearts. And that’s enough.

OR IS IT. Dammit all to hell if we don’t have a scraggly gray cat who won’t leave our yard. I gave it a slice of turkey and now it thinks I’m Jesus, and the day before we left for vacation I found the Pterodactyl curled up next to the cat in the driveway whispering, “Welcome to the family, little kitty.” We’ll be gone for two weeks; hopefully the house sitters will scare it off.

Now we’re on vacation with Husband’s family just outside of Bar Harbor, Maine in a ginormous house on the edge of Acadia National Park. We flew on an actual airplane into Boston because the Pterodactyl said I AM NOT DRIVING TO MAINE five thousand times, and made the mere idea of driving seem akin to waterboarding. We took Buddy with us on the plane, and as a service dog he sat obediently at our feet and we hardly knew he was there. HAHAHAHAHA! It turns out that our service dog thinks flying in a plane is an ascent into clawing, drooling, madness. He spent both legs of our journey in my lap, which is partially Delta’s fault because we didn’t have a bulkhead seat with enough room for him to lay down. But still. For a few very, very, very long hours, I was Buddy’s service dog.

The journey continues.

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