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The Baby Has Left the Building


The next door baby has left the building, because he and his parents and all of his accoutrements needed a larger living space. I’m going to miss hearing the sound of a baby crying as I walk through the hallway. I’m going to miss seeing the stroller waiting for him in the lobby, two tiny sneakers resting in the seat. I’m going to miss running into him on his daily walk with his nanny, who cooed to him as they returned from an afternoon of reading stories at the library and visiting geese at the duck pond. Both dogs liked to sniff the wheels of the stroller when it came back from its walks, but they weren’t especially interested in the baby himself. Maybe if he had shared his snacks with them, they would have felt differently.




I will miss watching the way his nanny soothes him, and his Dad plays with him, and his Mom makes googly eyes at him, full of love, that make him certain that he is the most important person on the face of the earth. He’d just recently developed a sustained gaze and the habit of smiling at people who smiled at him, and I’m going to miss that too.

My niece and nephews are all past the baby stage of life, and firmly into the sarcasm years. People become secretive and duplicitous so quickly nowadays; the honest and straight forward self-expression that is babyhood is a very precious thing to have around.

Cricket was not happy when we went downstairs, without the dogs, for a goodbye party for our neighbors. She couldn’t understand why she hadn’t been invited, first of all, and she imagined all kinds of treats she was missing out on, that the baby was allowed to partake in. I’m not sure what Cricket’s vision of paradise is, exactly, but she’s convinced it’s the place we go when we leave her at home. And she’s bitter about it. Butterfly, of course, was fine.


“How dare you go without me?”


Butterfly was busy snoring.

We will have a new neighbor soon, and I’m sure she will be lovely (the baby’s parents were thinking of our cozy little building when they chose their successor). And maybe she’ll have a dog or cat or bird who I will inevitably fall in love with. But there won’t be a human baby, and his absence will resonate with me for quite a while.

When moving day arrived, the baby was whisked away to avoid the trauma of seeing all of his stuff being removed. But Cricket had no such luck. She could hear every horrible moment of departure, and she’s not good with change. She spent the whole day announcing the presence of the movers, as if she thought we hadn’t noticed the first few times she’d barked her head off. There was also the added difficulty that, if we tried to take the dogs out while the movers were still traipsing in and out of the building and along the walkway, Cricket would bark them to death, so we had to put off anything but the most emergent need for an excursion. Unfortunately, Cricket thinks that it’s an emergency when she smells a squirrel in the air, and she whines and cries to let us know her plight.


“Strange people are in my building!”

Even Butterfly added a bark or two along the way, to support her sister’s protest, if nothing else.


“I’m here for you, Cricket.”

So it was a relief when the moving men left and quiet returned to the building. Except, it was too quiet. The apartment across the hall really is empty and the baby is not coming back.

Now Cricket is resting up for the next phase of the endeavor, when the new neighbor’s moving truck arrives and disgorges a whole new set of men and furniture to bark at. Announcing the apocalypse is a tough job, but, Cricket thinks, someone has to do it.


Resting, for now.


About rachelmankowitz

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

52 responses »

  1. change is often disruptive in some way. but then ultimately the dust settles and you see where everyone is. I do think they missed out by not inviting Cricket to the going-away party.

  2. Change is often good, but difficult for all animals, especially human animals and canines. We have two cats here. They’re not as vocal as dogs, but they announce change in their own ways. Always fascinating! 🙂 I hope your new neighbors are nice and fun.

  3. 💗 Change is crazy stressful for our furkids!

  4. You have your own personal town crier like in the olden days lol 🙂

  5. Your captions are a riot, Rachel. Good to see Cricket resting to gain her strength for the next go-round. The neighbors should be happy there is such a good watchdog in the building.

  6. Kaci and Kali bark like crazy when someone goes into the house across the street. . They do a great job about warning that Steve and Monica are invading Monica and Steve’s house.

  7. Barking is an important job for a dog. Our Indi willing does overtime.

  8. I’m sorry you are losing that sweet baby!

  9. Dogs are creatures of habit. This dislike change. I’m sure that, like you, they are sorry to see the baby go.

  10. I can completely understand how you must be feeling. Neighbours have a special place in our lives (both positive and negative sometimes!!). When the relationship is a positive one, we form a special bond with those close to us. As you have described, we get used to the familiar comings and goings of those who live nearby. When they leave, there is a sense of loss, especially when little ones feature. Endings herald new beginnings; I hope yours is a positive one.

  11. Good stuff Rachel. Love your humanity. Hope Cricket’s spirits improve. Hope the move-ins prove to be good neighbors and like your adorable doggies.

  12. Can’t wait to hear about the new neighbors and see cricket prancing again.

  13. Hopefully the change will be quickly and efficiently exacted so as to disrupt the pups. Well that plus a handful of treats to make the inconvenience more palatable. 😉

  14. They like we resist change. Gianni, formerly Johnny, met the other pomeranians on our block this morning. While he barked like a mad dog, Bootsie and Freddy were placid and calm. Oh where did I fail as a mother? Anyway, Wes the “other dogs” master was formerly, with now deceased wife, master and mistress of Scully and Mulder, two other Poms. You might say our neighborhood had gone to the Poms. They are addictive.

  15. Good luck! Maybe it’ll be twins!

  16. Isn’t it amazing how much our apartment neighbors become a part of our lives – good and not so good.

  17. Quiet an interesting day for the pups. They are smart and don’t miss a thing that goes on around their territory!

  18. I love the picture of Cricket under the bed 😁. And hope she’ll adjust to the new neighbors with Butterfly’s able coaching.

  19. Good luck with your new neighbours. I hope you all adapt well to each other soon.

  20. The sarcasm years. Lol. That’s a perfect way to describe where my daughter is currently. Stealing it!

  21. We spent the first years of marriage in an apartment building and our children were born when we were living there. There were several young families and we got on well together. We were there for a good few years then we moved and life was never really the same after that. Never really got to know neighbours in other houses. I missed the apartment and how we shared supper in each other’s houses. I understand how you miss the baby and your neighbours and I really do hope that the new neighbours will be lovely and take to Cricket and Butterfly, and just as importantly, the dogs will take to them.

  22. Cricket and Spike would be great friends because they both know the apocalypse is coming in the form of uniformed men and women and also those without uniforms who dare to venture into their space. Charly and Butterfly could simply hang out and offer an occasional supportive bark – that’s what they do best!
    Great story – I know you will miss the baby. I totally understand – I still miss the Worsham Street Huss Brothers every afternoon.
    Here’s hoping the new neighbor is the best ever…

  23. You captured the bittersweet perfectly, Rachel 🙂

  24. I for one would never miss the sound of a baby crying. I could live my life, without ever hearing that sound again. (But that’s another story…)
    I hope that your new neighbours are nice, and settle into the life of your building.
    Best wishes, Pete.


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