Like so many people did during the pandemic lockdowns in the spring of 2020, we got a puppy. We were all clustered at home, so my wife, son and daughter and I all could play a role in raising a young golden retriever. We weren’t able to stop her from soiling several square feet of carpet, but we were planning on new flooring anyway.

Of course, as soon as you announce that you got a puppy, someone is certain to point out how many dogs there are in local shelters at any given time, and that we should adopt, adopt, adopt. It’s often done with the air of smug condescension. I get that.

I was then, and remain now, fully aware how many dogs are in local shelters because I visited them regularly and checked their websites even more often. We made a good faith effort to find one that we liked that would fit in with our family. If it didn’t get along with other dogs, cats or kids, that was a nonstarter, and that comprised a surprising majority of the rescues we found, which made the search more difficult.

That spring, one of my wife’s friends said that a friend of hers in a town about 45 minutes away from us had a golden retriever that just had a litter of puppies. We hadn’t considered a golden and, come to think of it, I never saw any in the shelters. They are a popular breed, so my wife said she was going to go, “Just to look.” Knowing that she was kidding herself, I said, “You’re going to fall in love and want one. Take the checkbook.”

A few weeks later, when the puppy had stopped nursing, my wife brought “Poppy” home and we have come to fully understand why golden retrievers are so popular. She’s been a great dog, carpet damage notwithstanding.

That whole experience kind of reminded me of what it’s like when contemplating new racecars. Buy an existing car or build new? I always prefer to build because you never know what you’re going to get with a used racecar. Like a rescue dog, it might bite you when you’re not looking.

I have looked at used racecars. I look at racecars all the time, in fact. Like the needs of my family when it comes to a new dog, I have preferences when it comes to a racecar. If I have to fix a lot of things to get it to fit me and be fitted out the way I like it, I might as well build new, even though I know it’s more expensive.

There’s no such thing as a shelter for unwanted racecars, so I don’t feel the least bit guilty about building a new one. Poppy has a mind of her own, so she doesn’t always do as I say, but at least I can usually get a racecar to come out the way I want. A racecar also doesn’t leave chewed-up, spit-covered dog toys all over the house, but Poppy is cute enough to earn my forgiveness.

I’ve read golden retrievers have a longer-than-normal puppy stage, and here on her second birthday, I have found nothing to disprove that theory. One of these days, when Poppy is less spastic, I’d like to bring her to the track with me. I think she might like looking at racecars, too.

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