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Cricket’s Anxiety Disorder

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Cricket’s anxiety has increased tenfold since Miss Butterfly died this summer. It’s been five years since we’ve seen Cricket quite this clingy and over the top; not that she was calm and pleasant during Butterfly’s tenure, but she was at least demonstrably better. She’s at a level ten now (or an eleven, really), but for a few years she managed to get down to a seven, or even a six on occasion, with Miss B’s help. Now, Cricket is bullying her Grandma more than ever: physically pushing Grandma around, instead of just moping, and leaning on her, and making puppy dog eyes. If Grandma dares to eat something, Cricket will sit in front of her and yell – “Where’s mine!” – endlessly, until she gets her share. She doesn’t do this with me, partly because she knows I’m a harder nut to crack, but also because I know how to deploy “the look,” persistently, until she loses hope and hides under her couch in frustration. But giving that look wears me out, and the effect is only temporary.

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“Harrumph.”

 

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Cricket has her own version of “the look.”

 

The fact is, Miss Butterfly was the best medicine for all of us. She brought happiness and peace with her everywhere she went. Cricket was pretty sure Butterfly radiated calm from her butt, and therefore sniffed it regularly. Butterfly could even get in Cricket’s face, in a non-threatening way, and interrupt a tantrum.

butterfly front feet on floor copy

It seems obvious that my only option, for the sake of Cricket’s sanity, and Mom’s, is to go out and look for another dog, someone mature and generous and compassionate, to act as Cricket’s therapy dog when needed, and her friend the rest of the time. But I’m not ready. When I try to think about finding a replacement for Miss B, I fall apart. I know I‘m being selfish. I feel cruel leaving Cricket in her current state, just because I’m not ready to let go of Butterfly, and the illusion that she could come back, somehow.

butterfly hair askew

In the near future, we will be pet sitting for an old friend of Cricket’s, a nice old gentleman who used to be my therapy dog, and will now make an effort to bark Cricket into shape, if he can. And then we’ll see. Hopefully having Teddy around will also help me become ready for a new dog, but his Mom made me promise that I won’t try to keep him.

IMG_0246

We’ll see.

About rachelmankowitz

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

134 responses »

  1. Rachel–I don’t think you are being selfish at all. I think you need time to heal. Cricket, obviously is healing in her own way, and her stink-eye look is quite comical. So this is how she deals with missing Butterfly…poor Cricket. Your poor mom, too. Hopefully Teddy can assess the situation and do what needs to be done. I am anxious to hear.

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  2. This is one of the hardest things, having room. The grief is its own entity for a while. How long depends. You will know. Glad Cricket has Teddy meantime.

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  3. aw, i feel for all of you –

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  4. ramblingsofaperforatedmind

    Hugs

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  5. I’m with what Lois said…. ❤

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  6. I agree with what others have said – everyone grieves in their own way. This includes you and Cricket.

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  7. My own dog grieved so hard when her mother died that a couple months later I brought home a puppy. I didn’t want the puppy for me at that time (I do now), but my younger dog who had never been without her mother, needed a push out of her grief. I hope Teddy helps and I feel certain he will. Very sorry for what you’re going through. I’ve been there.

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  8. When I lost my Lily five years ago and prince was sadden he got through it so did I had allot of praying and friends close by keep talking about how you feel it helps to get it out Cricket will heal from the lost of her pain god bless you

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  9. I am so sorry about your loss. Teddy will help you to see if Cricket will be ok with another dog. It takes time for dogs to grief, some do better than others and it is hard to explain them what happened, but with your love and Teddy’s visit, you will see some change. Sending hugs to you and your family.

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  10. I hope it works out well with Teddy. 🙂

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  11. Grief is such a bugger to bear, I reckon. All of us grieve after the passing of each animal in our household. Dogs grieve just as much as humans I reckon and they need their time. Good idea about Teddy deflecting the grief away Rachel. Dogs are pack animals and do best when surrounded by their kind. That naughty dinner table behaviour from Cricket in trying to cadge food from your mum is a sign of dominance. I find that dogs always try to negotiate their position in the pack when a pack member passes and Cricket is trying to negotiate her position now. My best wishes to you all.

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  12. Jennifer Barraclough

    I hope Teddy will help but would it also be worth asking your vet, or an animal behaviourist or natural therapist, about other possible treatments?

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  13. We found that getting a new one immediately works wonders, not only for the dog that remains, but also YOU.

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  14. The good news is that you don’t have to decide when to introduce a new family member. God will bring exactly the right pup at exactly the right time for all of you.

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  15. I think you are likely correct that another dog will help. You can’t ‘replace’ Butterfly. We’ve lost two dogs, Memphis last year and Ellie Mae before that, and neither of them were replaceable either. We knew though that we had room in our hearts for another dog and new adventures, new dynamics and we were pretty certain that restoring the balance of humans/dogs/cats was important for our crazy little family.

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  16. Losing your best friend is hard and it has obviously been hard on both of you. The great news is that you have each other and now Teddy is going to work some of his magic, just like before.

    Deciding what is the right time to welcome a completely new dog into your life is difficult, however I’m sure that if you visit one or two shelters you’ll find a perfect pal. :o)

    In the meantime I hope Teddy looks after you both as I’m sure he will.

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  17. Aw this is so sad. Its a good idea to have a doggy friend to stay a while. To give you hope a friend of mine had two bichons Walter and Bertie, the best of pals. Sadly Bertie died from an illness like your lovely butterfly. Walter became very clingy and seemed much happier within the company of other dogs. My friend adopted little Lucy, another rescue bichon….and she is not a replacement for Bertie. She has a gentler character and a different personality. Whats important is, she needed a loving home. Walter is showing her how to be a member of his family and everything is going well. Xx

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  18. I don’t suppose you’ll ever be able to let go of Butterfly, she was a part of your family. Family never goes away. The hesitancy to adopt another dog is entirely understandable. Your Cricket sounds like my Mattie — badly-behaved but completely loved. When he was a baby, we contemplated getting a brother for him — and sometimes I wonder if that would have helped. He thinks of himself as the Rajah of Laurelton Street, and it’s a bit late to change him now, seeing as he’s 15. But I’m sending you, Cricket, and the rest of your family my prayers. xx

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  19. There’s another option…because two anxious dogs would be more difficult. Perhaps you could consider joining an obedience class with your mom and cricket. It would help mom give her commands that are consistent with yours, let you visit other dogs learning to be calm and relaxed and give you some time while you get ready for the next dog. You don’t have to be ready yet. And I’d discuss the anxiety concerns with the vet and the trainer as well, since you are quite the responsible dog owner.

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    • Miss Cricket has been in two obedience classes in her life. Her second teacher basically gave up and did not invite her to continue on with training. She’s unique.

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      • I didn’t realize. Keep working with her, though. She may be unique, but that often just means she learns differently;-). I’m sorry the second trainer did not invite her back.

      • I actually spent a lot of time researching learning differences in children to see if I could come up with another way of teaching Cricket. She’s very smart, but her anxiety and reactivity make it very hard for her to concentrate and retain lessons.

  20. You’ll feel when it’s time to get another dog. Don’t feel bad. Teddy is so cute, I’m sure he’ll be great to have around.

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  21. Grandma is not helping Cricket by feeding her from her plate to reward the excessive barking and it will be good if you can both be consistent in showing where the bounderies are. Cricket gets stressed when she thinks she has to whip you all into shape by herself and by showing her that you are in charge (in a loving way instead of giving a ‘look’ that will only cause more anxiety) and will take care of everything you give her the confidence to be calmer and relaxed. It will be lovely for Cricket to spend time with doggy friends and spending time with Teddy will be a great start. :o) xxx

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  22. I hope that having a lovely old dog around for a while will help everyone.

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  23. (((hugs))) my dog Auguste fell apart when our Rusty died – and slowly he got better (dogs grieve too -) but he had a serious operation a few months ago, and he’s back to anxious and clingy. Time and patience, and more patience will help. But it is awful not being able to explain to them what is happening – you know they are confused and anxious, but it’s hard not knowing how to comfort them without magnifying the problem!

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  24. I feel for what you are all going through! We are going through the cat version of what you are describing. It’s good to wait until your sure your ready – you will know. Hugs!

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  25. That first, heart-rending photo says it all. I’ve seen enough children who have been replacements for dead siblings to know that you must want another dog when you are ready, not as a replacement.

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  26. Good luck with the visitor. Don’t think of it as replacing Miss B, think of your heart becoming a 3-dog home of love. ❤︎

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  27. I miss Butterfly too and am glad that you continue to include pictures of her in your posts. For what it is worth she makes me smile. You can never replace Cricket so don’t look at getting another dog as a replacement but as another companion for yourself and Cricket. I never met Ms. B in person but I’m pretty sure she’d want you to.

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  28. When it feels right, then it will be time!

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  29. You’ll know when it’s right. Companion dogs for humans and dogs can be so healing and soothing, if it’s the right dog at the right time. Give your fur baby a big hug from me. ❤

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  30. You’ll know when the time is right Rachel. Cricket is showing her own grief in her way. Losing a pet is heartbreaking all round, not just for us humans. Thinking of you and Hugs and treats for Cricket. xx ❤

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  31. Cricket is dealing with Butterfly’s loss in her own way and she may need some help during this difficult transition. Maybe spending some time with an old friend is just what she needs. Or, she may need a grief support companion, but then again, even in the canine world, isn’t that what friends do best? I hope Teddy helps her!

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  32. Oh I feel your pain. I am in the same boat right now. Ginger was ambivalent about Buddy when he joined us 7 years ago but they obviously formed a strong bond. She is, at times, taking on all of his old traits, which makes me hope he comes visiting through her? When she is not taking on his traits, she acts lonely and sad. I have also had thoughts about finding another dog to be her companion but am torn…

    You will know when it is time. Take care!

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  33. That photo wants me to take Teddy home and feed him. Maybe that’s because I’m accustomed to seeing an obese Maltese around the house and a slim doggo like Teddy looks like he could use a nice meal. (See, even grizzled old Irish guys can be Jewish mothers on occasion.) Anyway, you’ll know when the time is right to introduce a new pupper and maybe if you tell Cricket she can be Alpha she will be patient until then. Probably not, but you could try. 🙂

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    • Teddy has always been a skinny guy, and a very picky eater. He has his Humans trained to cook for him. I’m pretty sure that when he’s here, he will be the Alpha, because Cricket used to look up to him the way I looked up to my older brother – like he was so much cooler than I could ever be. We’ll see if things have changed over the years.

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  34. Hopefully, Teddy will have a calming effect on both you and Cricket. I think you will know when it is time to give love to another dog. You’ll never “replace” Butterfly, as each dog, like people, are different and leave a unique paw print on our hearts. What you can do is give another dog a loving home.

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  35. Rachel, Butterfly will never be replaced, there will never be another like her. She will always be with you. But, when you are ready, you will find room for an entirely new dog. Our hearts have infinite space. I hope Teddy helps Cricket, and yourself.

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  36. Methinks Teddy might be just the ticket for everyone’s sadness. He looks like a happy fella who could lift all your spirits. Good luck!

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  37. I know what you mean about making room. When my first cat O.B. Brat passed away almost 30 years ago, I swore I’d never get another female cat. True to my promise I never did. I’ve had 6 cats since then – all male.
    Having said that, how is Cricket with cats? Both my Marcel and Marceau got along well with my late dog Marcos although it did take a while since neither species had had experience living with each other. But there are many cats in rescue groups and shelters who have had experience with dogs – although probably not like Cricket! 🙂

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  38. You two, hang in there ♥️

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  39. Laurine M. Byrne

    Too bad there’s not a doggie version of Chamomile and Lavender. Those two herbs are amazing. One calms your mood and the other is a light muscle relaxant so it can help you relax and sleep. Sounds like Butterfly was made of both. We could all use a little Butterfly in our lives.

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  40. I think animals grieve like people do and it is still early yet for Cricket, perhaps. She may calm down a bit after your grief lessens and the new routines and patterns become set.

    When my dog died my cat was 16 and though he and his canine pal got along well, I thought he might be too old to have another. But I saw that he missed that kind of interaction. However, I was not ready to get another dog, so I just had to accept that. One day I woke up and knew it was time and found the perfect dog for him and me. He lived another two years!

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  41. Awww yes I can quite understand that Raquel , I felt the same way after losing my Wile-e. The visit should do you both good. You will make that choice when you are ready. Sending hugs .

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  42. Losing Butterfly will take a long time to get over, it is normal and everyone works on a different timescale. On a happier note Teddy looks calm and very much the gentleman. I hope cricket gets over her loss soon. Take care

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  43. I’m so sorry this is so painful for you. Dogs take a piece of our heart with them when they go, and it’s hard to recover from that. Cricket is in mourning as well — just love on her and you both will heal with time.

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  44. I don’t think you are being selfish! You should never do something if you don’t feel ready or fully committed. Moving forward and getting a dog when you’re not ready is being selfish. A broken heart takes time to heal and everyone heals differently. I think you’re doing the best you can and that’s all you can ask for 🙂 Sending you lots of love and hugs and slobbery kisses!

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  45. Did you ever read Konrad Lorenz’ “Man Meets Dog”?? Great book.

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  46. Rachel I don’t know Cricket’s history so please pardon me if I’m out of line here. We have a rescue who was severely abused. She was on Xanax for too long before we found Calm-Shen. We had tried Bach Flower Rescue Remedy and just about every thing on the market. Calm-Shen took about 1 1/2 months to work, but it has helped immensely for our little girl Ziggy. Losing our fur babies is the hardest thing, give yourself time, you’ll know when you both are ready. A confident dog will go a long way to help Cricket… in time…. Much love to the both of you❤

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    • Cricket’s issues are mostly neurological – she was the runt of her litter – and she’s tried all kinds of meds and alternative treatments over the years without much success. Other than Butterfly, her best medicine has been exercise, but even that wears off quickly, unfortunately. We always keep our eyes out for new things to try for her, though, so thank you for the recommendation.

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  47. After my Felix passed I though it would be just me and BabyGirl. Then I saw my Midnight one night on internet and she was to be killed in the am. So I felt like she needed me. So in Felix’s memory I adopted Midnight. Stayed up all night finding a rescue to pull her, the paper work and arrangements to get her to me. She was 2 at the time. She just had her 8th birthday and I know Felix would approve. So don’t think you are replacing Butterfly adopt one in need in Butterfly’s memory. I think Butterfly would also approve.

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  48. Awww, poor Cricket! Maybe a new canine friend will be just the thing to perk her up.

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  49. Poor little Cricket! Dogs grieve, just like humans. I hope she enjoys hanging with a new buddy for a few days. And you know what? When the time is right, suddenly you will run across the most perfect rescue to add to your family. I found my furbabies – and they found me – under the most random of circumstances, but they were all the perfect fit and balance for me and each other! Please give Cricket a big hug for me!

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