Bev, he sounds lonely. That doesn't help you much. This situation you are in makes me sad. Sadder than you not getting a puppy.
I guess when you take Z out, you could call in every 1/2 hour or so. I'd guess he probably hates the change in roles and is looking desperately for some control, some power. (I reflect on a friend's father who, when she would come to visit, would insist on things that would slow the plan down - doing this, doing that, waiting - no kidding - for lotion to dry before he put on his socks to get ready to go out.)
I wonder if maybe you could rent a room or a garage from someone where you could go to do your "stuff" whatever that is (craft, painting, staring into space). Just an escape, especially with winter coming home and your work days shortening. On the other hand and maybe a possibility for you, Bi-Mart here is taking applications for seasonal staff. I'm just thinking - "get out of the house" for a bit. I guess it's that or just respond by telling him what you are doing - accept a running commentary as part of it. You could tell him you were painting a geographer (I was trying to spell long-necked-spotted-animal and that is what Mr. Gates came up with for me) and proceed to paint a cow (I know how to spell "cow"!) I'm just thinking about how you might turn this around a bit to almost have fun with it.
Anyway - just damn! on the situation.