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Cricket in the City

Cricket in Central Park



I live on the North Shore of Long Island and I was lucky during Hurricane Sandy to only lose power. There was no flooding or fire or downed trees at my house, though I only had to walk a few blocks to see power lines draped across the roads and horizontal trees where fences used to be. I was doubly lucky then, when a cousin of my Mom’s offered us her apartment in the city until our power returned. We drove in on the Wednesday after the storm and started out before anyone realized it was gridlock day. We were in the car for six hours on a trip that would usually take less than an hour. Six hours with Cricket climbing behind my neck and barking at trucks and all of us really needing to pee.

When we arrived at the building and found a magical parking spot only two blocks away, my first priority was, of course, to pee. And then I had to find and turn on the TV. I am a TV addict. I may have to write a whole blog on that someday, but suffice it to say that going a full day without TV leaves me strung out, two days and I’m shaking.

But really, what the TV offered was a better idea of what Hurricane Sandy had done. Listening to the radio on and off didn’t make it clear, pictures did. It was the flooding that I couldn’t have imagined without the pictures. The houses snapped in half and pulled off their foundations. The only sign of the storm damage in the Upper West Side neighborhood I was temporarily living in was that Central Park was closed, so all of the runners and the dogs had to crowd onto the sidewalks.

Cricket is my anxiety dog, in that she shows the anxiety I feel. She shook and cried under my legs during the storm itself. And then in the aftermath, she was scared of the dark. We always leave the living room light on, or a light in the hallway, but without electricity, the only light came from candles and flashlights and those were only where the humans were. And she became even more of a Velcro dog than usual.

In the city, she was overwhelmed by all of the new people and smells and configurations. At first she wasn’t ready to poop or pee in a strange place, then, once she’d mastered that, she started to bark at everyone – in the elevator, in the lobby, on the sidewalk. She was clearly the country dog among city dogs. She weaved from side to side, sniffing every pee spot along the sidewalk, turning her head at every new dog, hiding behind my legs as every clique of marathoners ran by. The city dogs were polite, and somewhat jaded. They kept their eyes forward, did their business, and went on their way.


Cricket sniffing the city

We walked everywhere. They had a Fairway and a Trader Joe’s just like on Long Island, but more cramped and with escalators filled with people. I tend to panic in crowds, and that’s what happened when I tried to go into stores in the city. Everything was too close together and I couldn’t think, or breathe. But the crowds on the sidewalk were half dogs, so they didn’t scare me. It’s as if dogs mitigate the panic for me. If I could go to school, or work, or synagogue or the doctor with dogs, I’d have a much more active life.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if dogs were allowed at the DMV?

I liked having doormen there at all hours. Taking Cricket out to pee at ten PM and being surrounded by light and people was very different from home, where it is dark and haunted by six o’clock this time of year, even with the power on. You only know other people are around because there are lights in the windows.

The power came back on in our neighborhood by Friday, so Saturday morning we were ready to go home. But first, Central Park was finally open and Cricket needed to walk. I’d seen so many dogs and runners on the grassless sidewalks that I’d assumed that was their natural habitat, but no, they belonged in Central Park, with the dogs finally free to run off leash and chase balls and grab sticks, and the runners on their own separate paths.

We met a woman and her dog who had been there from the first opening of the gates, when at least a hundred people and their dogs were waiting impatiently to get in. She said that once the gates were opened, the dogs ran like mad to get inside. After a week of being city dogs, they let loose and became dogs again.


Cricket taking center stage


About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

19 responses »

  1. How lucky you were to only lose power and to have somewhere else to stay! Sounds like Cricket did very well as a city dog. We know exactly what you mean about non-city dogs zipping from one pee site to the next, ours do just the same when we venture into urban settings 😉 It must be lovely to be home though.

    • It was wonderful to come home and find everything just as we left it. But I think Cricket misses all of the extra walking. She got used to going everywhere her humans went and she’s not liking the return to staying home alone for minutes at a time.

  2. They don’t allow dogs at the DMV but do allow those leeches that get a paycheck from there. He got a notice that it was 12 years since the licence photo was taken and he’d have to pop by to get a new one. That’s all plus pay the $12 fee to Arizona MVD. It took four hours-FOUR HOURS and the weather was perfect so there was no excuse there. They don’t allow dogs because if I were there, I would have bitten one “employee” every 10 minutes until they took the money and snapped the photo.

  3. Lol. Great post. I do agree with you, dogs should be allowed in a lot more places than what it is currently done. Dogs, and this is based on research, have the ability to lower blood pressure and anxiety. Cricket must have been overwhelmed with all the new sounds, smells, traffic, etc. When I lived in NY, years ago, I loved crowds. The way I looked at it was, “the more people the better”, but now that I live in the MD I would not want to go back to NY unless I go for a visit. I loved this laid back, quiet environment and just like Cricket, Alex does want to smell everything every time we have gone to NY, but she does pretty good because I do expose her to different environments. I am glad you and Cricket are back home:)

    • Thank you. We’re glad to be home. Cricket is making up for lost time with the mailman. Maybe she thought the doormen in the city were like mailmen in disguise and that’s why she barked at them so much. But now she knows who is who and she can organize her barking accordingly.

  4. So glad to hear that Cricket enjoyed her stay in the city… Dogs get into such a routine that when it changes it does throw them off balance for a bit until they settle back down. I was watching the devastation from Hurricane Sandy and it was unbelievable – glad you were all safe and never suffered any damage.

    • Thank you. I keep hearing about people who lost their houses or are still without power and I feel so guilty/lucky. Both at the same time. Cricket’s routine is so set it took her almost twenty four hours to figure out how to pee in the city. I would have thought desperation would have kicked in sooner, but no.

  5. Hi
    Thanks for coming by my blog. I prayed for you all there when the hurricane hit and am glad that some of you escaped the worst of it shown on UK television.

  6. Love the image of polite, jaded city dogs. Poor Cricket must have seemed such a rube to them. Pops would bring her country manners, no doubt causing an embarrassing scene. Cricket sounds darling.

  7. She is a cutie. glad you escaped some of the wrath of Sandy–your poor neighbors are suffering so much. It must feel good to walk about Central Park as reassurance of survival.

  8. I understand how you feel. Taylor is a Service Dog and she goes every where with me. One huge perk is when I am admitted to the hospital. We get a private room and they let me keep the door shut. Have you thought of making Cricket a Service Dog?

    • Cricket would make a TERRIBLE service dog. She tried two training classes and has decided that the teachers have it all wrong and that they need to be trained to tolerate her behavior as it is. Especially the barking. The barking is essential to her mental health.

  9. Our Maltese Chicki is very quiet when she is out, as well as at home. But she does seem to enjoy marking her territory. It seems to be a universal pastime of pooches. 🙂


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