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Cricket and Ellie

Cricket and Ellie have been together for almost a year now, and I think it’s been a long year for Cricket. She wasn’t convinced that she needed a new sister, and she will never acknowledge that having Ellie with her has lowered her anxiety level a few decibels (but it has).


“I don’t need no sister!”

It was luck that we got the call about Ellie on Cricket’s 11th birthday, last year, and were able to pick her up the following day. I’d like to believe that Ellie was, in a way, Cricket’s birthday present, but Cricket didn’t see it that way, especially because, in the turmoil, we forgot to have a celebration with Cricket’s favorite foods (peanut butter, red bell peppers, olives, and, of course, chicken). We tried to make up for it with a week full of chicken, for both of them, but Cricket remembered the slight.


“I remember everything.”

I worry that if we celebrate Ellie’s Gotcha Day, right after Cricket’s 12th birthday, Cricket will feel neglected, or resentful. I mean, more than usual. But Ellie deserves to be celebrated too. She’s found her place in the world, through trial and error, and luck, and quite a lot of therapy, just like me.


“What are you looking at?”

From the beginning, Ellie has come to therapy with me once a week. My therapist insisted that Ellie should come, not so much for my sake, or even for Ellie’s really, but because my therapist likes having dog patients. She misses her own dogs during the day, now that she works from an office building instead of from home. But it turns out that I like bringing Ellie with me, because it’s the one time of the week when she sits on my lap. At home she prefers to stretch out nearby, on the floor, on the couch, or on the bed, but in therapy she needs more contact. And if I have to talk about something particularly painful I can cuddle with her for comfort, or talk about her as a break from the tension, just for a little while. And therapy has been good for Ellie too. She’s been gradually learning self-calming techniques, and realizing that she has a safe base to return to (me), which allows her to spend more and more time exploring the office. Recently, she even built up the courage to go over to my therapist directly, which she never did early on (though my therapist clearly cheated by bringing in cheese). It’s Ellie’s one hour per week when she gets to go out alone with Mommy, while Cricket stays home with Grandma, and she seems to look forward to it, and know where we’re going, though, really, it could be all about the cheese.


Ellie in therapy: thinking deeply.

I brought Cricket along with us to therapy one day, when my Mom had her quilting group in the city, and Cricket seemed forlorn at the thought of being left home alone. Cricket used to go to therapy with me herself, when she was a puppy, so she was thrilled to see her therapist again; so thrilled that she peed on the rug three times, and used the furniture, and my therapist, as a jungle gym, and then stole a chocolate-filled candy from the coffee table. All of this while Ellie sat calmly on my lap, bewildered.

Cricket does not believe that she is going to be twelve years old. Yes, she’s had occasional back trouble, and she takes CBD oil each morning to relieve general aches and pains, but she thinks she’s still a puppy, and the fact is, she is still as smart and stubborn as ever. I can see that she has slowed down over time, but that’s only because she used to be a raging speed demon and now she’s not dragging me down the street, as much. In her trip to therapy she forgot her age completely and went back to acting like the puppy she used to be: raging speed demon, excitement peeing, and all. I can’t afford to replace the office carpeting, though, so Cricket will be staying home from now on.



Cricket is still clearly the boss around here. If there’s a plate on the floor, Ellie will run for it, until she sees Cricket out of the corner of her eye, and then she backs off and waits for permission, from Cricket, to lick up the leftovers. Though, Ellie has occasionally ignored her sister’s rules and elbowed for space, when there were scratchies on offer, but not too often.

Ellie generally sleeps in my room, because Cricket won’t allow her up on Grandma’s bed, though Ellie has no problem sharing my bed with Cricket. They often take their afternoon naps with me, each staking out her own territory and stretching out. Ellie has tried to get Cricket to play with her, doing a play bow, or running circles around her out in the yard, but Cricket just gets confused. Cricket can play by herself, or with a human, but she doesn’t understand dog to dog play. It’s just too weird for her.

We will have to find a way to celebrate Cricket’s 12th birthday, and Ellie’s Gotcha day, and their sisterhood, all at once, in a way that Cricket will enjoy. Ideally, I would buy six or seven roasted chickens and hide them strategically around the backyard for the girls to find, but, there are other animals around here, and our yard isn’t fenced in, and, it’s possible that there is such a thing as too much chicken, even for my girls.

I’ll have to keep thinking about this. But in the meantime, I’m going to celebrate the fact that Ellie has made her way into our hearts, and made our world a warmer, happier, funnier place. And if Cricket wants to pretend that she’d be better off as an only dog, panting and shaking with separation anxiety each time we leave the apartment, she can certainly hold on to her illusions. But I know the truth.


“Shut up.”

If you haven’t had a chance yet, please check out my Amazon page and consider ordering the Kindle or Paperback version (or both!) of Yeshiva Girl. And if you feel called to write a review of the book on Amazon, or anywhere else, I’d be honored.

Yeshiva Girl is about a Jewish girl on Long Island named Izzy. Her father has been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior with one of his students, which he denies, but Izzy implicitly believes is true. Izzy’s father decides to send her to a co-ed Orthodox yeshiva for tenth grade, out of the blue, as if she’s the one who needs to be fixed. Izzy, in pain and looking for people she can trust, finds that religious people are much more complicated than she had expected. Some, like her father, may use religion as a place to hide, but others search for and find comfort, and community, and even enlightenment. The question is, what will Izzy find?


About rachelmankowitz

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

78 responses »

  1. Happy Birthday to Cricket and Happy Gotcha to Ellie!

  2. I know you probably considered it but as it is only a few days, could you not just celebrate both days together? I don’t think Cricket or Ellie would really mind and it could be a fun day for all four of you.

  3. Probably the first time I’m going to take issue with one of your posts Rachel. You may believe that Ellie found her way through luck and sheer good timing – I strongly disagree. No real basis for it other than remembering the painful search you had looking for her but she found you first.

    Dogs do that they’re smarter than us.

    Cricket’s big sister grouchy grump routine is pretty much part and parcel I don’t doubt she’s as quietly pleased to have Ellie as you. If nothing else when the time comes she can leave and drop off to wherever she’ll go with the knowledge and reassurance she can hand over the reins and let Ellie look after you until you catch up again later.

    Ellie will be happy enough with a little treat on Cricket’s birthday she doesn’t need a formal Gotcha Day celebration. She knows she’s loved 🙂

  4. PS. Ashamed to admit I didn’t know about the book but it’s currently in my basket ready for ordering 🙂

  5. Loved reading about your pups. They are really sweet!

  6. Happy Celebration days to both of them. Perhaps celebrate their days on the same day? Looks like Cricket is getting plenty more spunky in her older years, but she’s still super cute!

  7. Cheese is a big draw, for sure. Do you notice a significant improvement with Cricket taking the cbd oil? With all Lily’s recent injuries I am thing of trying it. The store where I buy her food also suggested hemp oil. Do you know if there is much difference?


  9. Chicken and cheese are the heart of any celebration. Enjoy! All of you!

  10. Really, you love them so much and vice versa. Had fun reading it.

  11. With a name like Cricket, she must be the best dog gone pet!

  12. My boys have pretty much the same dynamic as your girls. It took a couple of years, but Geordie eventually warmed up a bit to The Usurping Toby. Happy Birthday/Gotcha to them both!

  13. Cricket and Ellie both have such appealing faces. I hope they enjoy their respective celebratory days.

  14. I ❤️ this post so much. ❤️ They are so cute!!!

  15. I’m sure Cricket loves Ellie really!

  16. You illustrate our lives with dogs so well. They can never be ‘just pets’, and always become part of the family.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  17. You’re lucky girls Ellie and Cricket that your mommy loves you so much that she is trying to figure out how to make you both happy given conflicting circumstances. My guess is that both of you are keenly aware of this and will be mostly fine with whatever decisions mom arrives at.

  18. What a great shot of Ellie laying across your leg. Glad the CBD oil is helping Cricket.

  19. Lovely photos Rachel. So hard to believe it’s almost a year.

  20. Happy first Gotcha Day to Ellie and happy 12th Birthday to Cricket – here’s to the double celebration! 🤗💖🍗🍗

  21. Rachel, Ellie is a wonderful addition to a family that’s capable of giving lots of love.
    I think it’s fabulous that you’re taking her to therapy with you. The last time I was in therapy I worked with a therapist who brought her dog with her to work. I think I asked her about how comfortable her patients were with her adorable dog and she said something to the effect if they didn’t like dogs she wasn’t interested in working with them. I thought that was awesome.
    Celebrate Cricket and Ellie for the joy they bring you each day – give them loads of chicken!

  22. Loved to know that the dogs have gone to therapy. As I told you once, my therapist has a dog and she has been an essential ally in my healing.

  23. Aww, it’s lovely to take a look back at how they’ve been getting on. It made me chuckle that Cricket enjoying going back to therapy so much that she peed all over the rug, stole chocolate candies & use the therapist ‘as a jungle gym’. What a great day out for her! 😂

    I think Cricket secretly loves the company and the warmth Ellie’s brought to the home. She just can’t let on yet or show anyone that she’s ageing (sounds like some older, stubborn folks I know, ie. my parents!)

    Whatever you do for their days, whether it’s celebrated at the same time or not, I’m sure they’ll both love being doted on & they’re lucky to have you and such a warm family.

    Love the photos 🙂
    Caz xxxx

  24. *♪ღ♪Happy★Birthday to Miss Cricket ♪ღ♪*

  25. I wish I could bring a therapy dog!

  26. Ever the wise philosopher-dog. Don’t mess with wisdom.

  27. Check out Gracie’s Doggie Delights – her cheese curds would be doin their bellies a delish attack. (This is a shameless promotion of a dog treat company that I think is awesome, by the way. Also, Happy Birthday, Cricket! My first dog that I really remember was named Cricket and reading about you always reminds me of her. Happy gotcha day, Ellie! Have fun at therapy! I love how she’s sort of laying over your leg in that picture. 🙂

  28. you think that’s bad, they also make freeze dried turkey gizzards! Maverick thinks they’re amazing. P and U is all I gotta say about that!

  29. I just finished reading Yeshiva Girl and really enjoyed it, I’ll be writing a review soon.

  30. They are adorable and I love that you have a therapist who loves dogs that much! I don’t trust people that don’t . . .

  31. You make me laugh again.. Thank you!

  32. Pets just give love and healing! So glad you have such lovely dogs. My cats keep me sane and always make me smile! 🐈🐕🌞


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