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Teddy arrived two weeks ago, on Friday the 20th at three o’clock, freshly groomed and trotting like a tiny horse. Without his fluff, he looks like a black-haired miniature greyhound, or a tall spider, or a stuffed animal made out of black pipe cleaners. But when he was a puppy he was just a ball of black cotton with eyes.

His mom told me that he wouldn’t need to pee outside, would never eat Cricket’s kibble, and he wouldn’t need a pet bed, because he would be on my lap or on my bed constantly. She gave me his duffle bag full of food and wee wee pads and toys, and specific instructions on when and how to feed him, but she forgot to tell me when she was coming home. Oops!

Teddy was anxious and pacing around the apartment after his Mom left and I decided to take both dogs outside, to help Teddy work off some of his anxiety and to get him used to the particular smells of our neighborhood. On our way back, he raced up the walkway, and found our door on the first try, just like Butterfly did when we first moved here. Then he raced up the stairs and sat down next to me on the couch to get his petting. Within five minutes, though, he’d returned to pacing, and crying at the front door of the apartment. Cricket sniffed his butt a few times and watched his pacing from afar, but mostly she kept her thoughts to herself. Eventually, between bouts of pacing, Teddy chose to sit on the second couch, where I’d spread out Butterfly’s pink blanket and all of his toys. He especially liked putting his head up next to the fan and sniffing the air.


Teddy, on Miss Butterfly’s blanket.



At dinner time, I put out Teddy’s special food, in his special silver bowl, but he was still too anxious to eat. He sniffed his food, went to the door to cry, came back and ate a little bit, and then went back to the door to cry.

When we went outside for the final trip of the day, Teddy followed Cricket carefully, watched where she peed, and studiously aimed his pee stream onto the same spot. It had taken him six hours to be ready to pee in this strange new place.


“It’ll be okay, Teddy.”

He cried extra hard at bed time, scratching at the front door for almost fifteen minutes, but then he came to my room, jumped up on my bed, did his nesting ritual (eerily similar to Cricket’s), and smooshed himself down as close to me as possible.

In the quiet, my fears got louder: that Teddy wouldn’t get used to being at my house, and would continue to cry at the door for the whole visit; that Teddy and Cricket wouldn’t get along, and Cricket’s feelings would be hurt; that I would disappointment Teddy, and his Mom, in some fundamental way; that Teddy would have some unexpected health crisis, caused by something I did wrong, or have a health crisis that I didn’t notice until too late (though I was at least reassured by the fact that he goes to the same vet as Cricket, so I’d know where to go if there was trouble); I worried especially that I’d be so busy with my school work that I wouldn’t be entertaining enough, and Teddy would be bored.

I finally fell asleep, but woke up a few hours later when Cricket came to visit during the night, and Teddy growled at her. I had to talk them both through it, convincing Cricket that she still belongs with me, even with Teddy nearby. It took what felt like hours of dual scratching to calm them down, and I fell asleep still scratching them and trying to convince myself that everything would be okay.

By the next morning, things were calmer. I started to notice that my normally athletic, tall Cricket looked like a little matzo ball next to skinny black-haired Teddy. His long legs make him an incredible athlete, taking the stairs like a speed demon, and doing all kinds of ballet poses when he stops to pee or to scratch his head.


My little matzo ball

My original hope, that Teddy would help Cricket, by teaching her better manners, and calming her anxiety, and easing her loneliness, were pretty much smashed. If anything, it was Cricket who was teaching Teddy: when to bark, and where to pee, why doggy beds are so comfy. And she was trying, admirably, to tolerate his quirks.


Resting with Grandma

Food times were one of my anxiety zones, because Cricket eats kibble and Teddy eats homemade food (frozen in Ziploc bags by his mom and kept in the freezer). Cricket eats whenever she’s hungry, because the food bowl is kept full all day. Teddy has definite meal times, and when he’s done eating the leftovers are picked up and put away in the fridge. (His mom told me he doesn’t even know what kibble is, but within a week he was sneaking over to crickets bowl for kibble. Shh.) Even Teddy’s treats are home cooked (chicken livers), while Cricket’s treats come from a bag (two bags, actually, one for dental chews and one for chicken jerky).

But already by that Sunday morning, we had meal time down to a science. I put a little bit of Teddy’s fresh food into Cricket’s kibble, and then I sat between them while they ate, and I used the chicken livers as an additive to Teddy’s meal, mixing it in carefully, so that Teddy wouldn’t be able to pick it out (which he’d done on previous attempts). He would eat chicken livers all day long if he could. Cricket, on the other hand, thinks everything in his meals is gourmet, and even likes the wet food from a can that I had to add in.


Teddy had taken to following me everywhere by then. He would even bark when I went into the bathroom, and stand at the door to wait for me. There was something about Teddy’s need to follow me everywhere, and be as close to me as possible, that puffed up my ego to almost normal size.

He even started to play! He’d brought his own squeaky throw toy, but he also took an interest in Moose, a gift from my brother’s family, for Butterfly, that she’d never had a chance to use. It was nice to see Moose getting some attention.


Teddy and the squeaky man.

But then Teddy started to sit in Cricket’s doggy bed. He even tried to sit in it when Cricket was already there, and Cricket demurred and escaped under my computer chair to give him the evil eye from a distance. I haven’t been able to figure out how much of Cricket’s submissive grumpiness over the past two weeks has been caused by Teddy’s presence, and how much is from her back injury. A few days before Teddy arrived, she hurt her back and had to go to the vet. She’s been on steroids ever since, and can’t jump up on the beds or the couches without an assist. Watching Teddy spring up and down like a bouncing ball could not have helped her mood.


That’s Cricket’s bed.


That’s Moose, on the doggy bed.

Teddy continued to carefully watch where Cricket peed and aimed for the same pee spot. I could see the angles forming and reforming in his head as he did the math. He loved running up the stairs, and jumping on the bed, and climbing up onto the couch. He, like Cricket, thought that tug was supposed to be about taunting humans and never letting go of his toy. He and Cricket both scratched their heads on the rug, contorting themselves into pretzels to find the itchy spots.

He’s still going to be here for another day or two, and I’ll be interested to see how Cricket reacts when he goes home. Will she miss him? Will she get back to being more like herself? She’s only played with her toys once or twice in the past two weeks, preferring instead to hide under my computer chair while he runs around and plays tug and scratches his head on the rug. She still thinks he’s in charge of her bed, and mine, no matter what I say to her. We may have to make her some more chicken livers, and chopped meat with rice, to help smooth the transition back to her only dog life.

But I know that I will miss Teddy. He’s been my guardian and constant companion for two weeks. He reminds me of Butterfly, the way he takes a piece of food over to the rug, to savor it. And he reminds me of Cricket, with his crazy pretzel shapes as he scratches his face and back on the rug. The only problem with Teddy is that he is so unrelentingly black that I can’t see him in the dark, and I worry that I’m going to smoosh him. But he’s a resilient fellow, and he wears a shiny collar, just in case.

I don’t know how I’m going to tell his Mom that, in two short weeks, her baby has discovered that he likes kibble, doggy beds, and, even though he still prefers wee wee pads for bathroom purposes, he loves to follow Cricket around in the great outdoors and pee on all of her pee spots. Maybe I’ll leave all of that unsaid, and let Teddy do the talking.


“So it’s like this…”

About rachelmankowitz

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

68 responses »

  1. Whenever Teddy does go home I wonder, will he cry at his door, and wait for Cricket?

  2. You are an excellent puppy sitter!

  3. What a wonderful adventure for everyone! 😊

  4. I’m glad they learned to get along quickly. It doesn’t take long for them to adjust and for us to “fall” for them. I hope neither of you miss him too much when he is gone.

  5. I think some things are better left unsaid. As Lucy Lulu said, I think you are an excellent sitter, Rachel. How do you think you’d do with cats? 🙂

  6. Teddy has done a very good job of babysitting for you and Cricket and Grandma, too.
    Male energy is a different kind of energy – not necessarily bad, just different.
    Teddy managed to use his energy to pep up a home that needed a boost…good for him…and for you, too.

  7. I bet you anything the next time Cricket sees Teddy, she will “growl” approval at seeing him again and actually enjoy his visit.

  8. He sure is a cutie! And he gets homemade treats and food? Wow, he is living the good doggy life…as all dogs should. It actually sounds like Teddy brought a new focus into your home and maybe that is what you needed. I’m glad you had a good visit with him. I hope secretly Cricket enjoyed the visit as well.

  9. Teddy is a fine looking fellow. He and Cricket seemed to get on well together, crying aside. I have one coming to me tonight and I will have Yogi to look after for a few days. Fortunately, like Dougal, Benji and Yogi get on well together.

  10. Sounds as though it was a wonderful adventure… 🙂

  11. I think this was good for Cricket!

  12. Amazing how dogs adapt to new surroundings and new routines. This was a real success story.

  13. Glad to see he’s settled in.

  14. Is this an intro for a permanent stay?

  15. It sounds like you did a great job of relieving his stress from missing his family. I bet Cricket liked the distraction as well!

  16. Can you believe how much change one little fur ball can bring? We are down to one dog for the past couple of years after many years of two. It’s calmer now, but not nearly as interesting. I’ll be watching to see if you stay a one dog home.

  17. Marie Christine

    Completely adorable.

  18. Such a cutie. Reminds me of Tuppy and Maggie when we Tuppy sat. Initial grrs, but agreements met and they shared the bench. Meal times were together but apart if you see what I mean and treats were given to both. Pee time was interesting, as Tuppy would perform for us on request but not her daddy. We’d have hysterics hearing his words of encouragement on the pontoon when she just sat on her haunches and glared at him!

  19. Loved to read about the rituals…and thought about Dylan when he stays at the sitter’s home with her two dogs during my travels…something very similar may be going on.

  20. I am fortunate to live in a neighborhood that has been dog-centric. EVERYONE on my end of the block had dogs. Now one has moved away, one has died (recently, her poor owner 😦 ) and there is just myself and two other people who have dogs. One of these and myself both have similar looking chihuahuas, Taco is male and is older than Huny by four years or so, making him 14. His family is still in the professional years of their lives and Taco often comes for a ‘play date’ (as his mom puts it). In fact yesterday he spent all day with us. Like Teddy he has specific ‘rules’ about his food. But like Teddy, he often goes to Huny’s kibble and helps himself generously. I don’t think it hurts anything at all. The danger is, if there is a downside to being with these marvelous animals, that they creep into our hearts and make their home there. Even if they aren’t ours. So expect a little melancholy as you get used to him being gone, but be comforted. Perhaps his mom will need you to watch him again soon. The tale of Teddy is so heart warming! Thanks for sharing it! ❤

  21. That was a good story dog antics are always full of little surprises.
    Hope Cricket doesn’t miss her new buddy , although maybe not .
    Teddy has a brilliant dog sitter by the way. x

  22. Ted will go home and revert to his old routine. His mom will never know unless she reads your blog.

  23. Teddy may be part camel. At least he already has his nose in the tent. HaHa

  24. A complete full and loving home! %)

  25. Haha, that was some visit! Well done on making him feel at home, it’s not easy on us dogs when we head off to stay with new folks for a holiday, so a lot depends on how welcome you make us. You did a fine job, I’d say!

  26. Isn’t it great how dogs manage to figure things out for themselves? I love your “little matzo ball.”

  27. A win win situation for all of you. I love the last picture of Teddy.

  28. Hi Teddy!!! Looks like he had a lot of fun! I would be surprised if he even wanted to go back home!! I hope Cricket is okay. I know all too well about being the only dog and then having a new furry member come in and take over everything!!!!

    • I heard that Teddy was not eating his first day back home – he missed Cricket that much! Cricket has been wiped out. I’m not sure if she’s depressed at losing Teddy, or exhausted form two weeks with him.

  29. What a good dog sitter you are Rachel – I bet Teddy misses Cricket!

  30. You’re no dog sitter. You are a *** dog mom.*** You may be designated TDL2. You responded to your and your dog’s loss, his injury and them living and playing together. For Cricket’s loneliness I’d spend more time and see if Cricket really wants a new companion, if you do so you would have my wholehearted support. Make sure Cricket’s back is better then decide on a dog that would go well with his personality, adopt it and take it immediately to the vet for bath, fleas and worms and other vacc’s. I took care of a young pup and my forearm was her “bone” while teething. She has five wee wee pads by their balcony door and they just put the pee on your floor. They’re not taking her out anymore.I worked so hard on it but she would go out and do nothing, then do everything on wood floors. She’ll be a good dog when trained. My old dog tolerated her but there’s over a 13-year difference and our dog will be 14 years in January. We’ve had her since five weeks, and know that training must include “loud” visual signals of come, sit, stay, down, heel because we both have cataracts and she is losing her hearing,.

  31. Smart dogs like Teddy are brilliant when it comes to getting their point across! What a great visit he is having.

  32. Gorgeous story! I used to have dogs and then be a dog sitter for my neighbour. I miss dogs in my life, so your stories are a joy to read.


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