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Cricket Has a Big Mouth

            Cricket has a big mouth. I don’t mean anatomically, because she is a pretty small dog, eleven pounds or so, but she just won’t shut up. She barks at anyone and everyone who dares to enter her yard (it’s a shared yard, for the whole co-op, so people are always coming and going), and she yells at us for all manner of sins: like, not giving her more treats when she’s already had three, or not taking her out as soon as she wants to go, or not being able to figure out what she wants when she’s explicitly barked it at us twelve times in a row.

“How do you not understand me?!!!!!”

            She doesn’t bark at her friend Kevin, the one year old mini-Goldendoodle. She usually just swats at him with her paws to try to get him to pay attention to her when he dares to lie down on the grass and chew on a stick. But she barks at her sister, Ellie, and at pretty much anything that moves.

            If Cricket were more trainable (and she has proven to be distinctly untrainable), I would get her some of those floor buttons that have become popular recently in so many videos, where dogs are able to express themselves in English by pressing specific buttons with their paws.

            The problem is that, if she could actually be trained to use the buttons, she’d stomp on them so hard, and so often, that she’d break the buttons for ‘out’ ‘treat’ and ‘lap’ on the first day.

            Our neighbors, even the ones who like us, say, oh yeah, we heard Cricket through the window. We always know what Cricket is thinking.

            But then, she curls up on her grandma’s lap, or next to Grandma on the couch, or in tiny ball in her own doggy bed, and she looks like the sweetest puppy on the planet. Even with her little pink cauliflower growths, and age spots, and thinning hair, she still looks angelic and adorable and incapable of being difficult.

            But only when she’s sleeping.

            I’m afraid of what’s going to happen when Mom comes home from her hip surgery in a few weeks. I’m pretty sure that I will be the lucky recipient of most of Cricket’s anger when I try to put the dogs in my room to protect the visiting nurse, or when Mom closes her bedroom door at night to protect her new hip from being used as Cricket’s sleeping spot. I don’t know how Cricket is going to survive, or how my hearing will survive, really.

            It’s hard to be wholly negative about Cricket’s big mouth, though, even though she’s also used it to bite me a few times over the years (for daring to bathe her or comb her hair). She is a perfect example of how you can love someone who is deeply flawed. I may not love the barking itself, but I do love how adamant she is about being herself, no matter what, and I love that she knows what she wants and makes sure to ask for it. And while it would be nice if she could lower the volume, or learn from her mistakes, or compromise every once in a while, I know that’s not going to happen. And that’s okay.

            The fact is, Cricket is going to be fifteen years old this July, and she is exactly the same as she was at six months. She has only intensified over the years, like a really stinky cheese. Luckily for both of us, I love cheese.

“Me too!”

If you haven’t had a chance yet, please check out my Young Adult novel, Yeshiva Girl, on Amazon. 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 teenager on Long Island, named Isabel, though her father calls her Jezebel. Her father has been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior with one of his students, which he denies, but Izzy implicitly believes it’s true. As a result of his problems, her father sends her to a co-ed Orthodox yeshiva for tenth grade, out of the blue, and Izzy and her mother can’t figure out how to prevent it. At Yeshiva, though, Izzy 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.

51 responses »

  1. Oh my… your Cricket sounds a lot like the Australian Koolie pup I found abandoned on the highway just over a year ago. I named her Angel. Probably should have named her Bad Girl. But I love her so much, faults and all.

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  2. Cricket–did your mom just call you a stinky cheese? And how do you feel about that? **bark!bark!bark!bark!** I thought so…

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  3. I love this statement Rachel- “She is a perfect example of how you can love someone who is deeply flawed. ” We have two sibling bichon’s (Abby & Gibbs) who live in our neighborhood. There owner and I often walk a leg of the neighborhood together. Gibbs is Cricket’s size, and he was quite offended by Adi at first. Oh how he would bark furiously at her. I always figured he was trying to let her know with his big bark that he may look small on the outside but on the inside he was the size of a wolf. Adi in her steadfast Labrador loving way finally won his affection. (It took almost a year) Now he “protects” her, our puppy Summer, and his sister from the other big bad barking dogs in the neighborhood by putting himself between them and the other dogs.

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  4. Aw Cricket! Great name. Wishing your mom a full and speedy recovery 🙏 ✨️

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  5. This phrasing of yours had me laughing out loud literally: “…like a really stinky cheese. Luckily for both of us, I love cheese.” Wonderful post. Wonderful Cricket!

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  6. You might think you have a shared yard but Cricket is likely thinking it’s hers.

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  7. I want to hug your baby, lol

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  8. Know what you mean about how lovely they are when they’re asleep. Maya is beautiful and attracts a lot of attention when we walk down the street. She is good in the car, getting better on the lead, asks to go out, doesn’t bark much, and doing well in doggy class. We just wish she would set her alarm click in the morning for 6am instead of 4!

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    • Four in the morning?! Eek!

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      • When Maya first came to live with us, we were getting up at 2am, 3am and 4am, thinking sh wanted to go out. Then we thought maybe we were waking her up, so ignored her. 4 am to 5 am seems to be the norm for her waking up, and she doesn’t always do anything when we stagger out of bed to let her out. Only having the one door here (and nowhere to put another), we can’t just let her out into the garden so have to go with her. Most times, we grab blankets and crash out in the lounge as she’ll settle then. Hopefully she will grow out of it……………………( please?)

      • I have my fingers crossed for you!

  9. You wouldn’t have her any other way

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  10. Our neighbourhood is home to many barkers, including ours. Luckily she mostly barks inside, so the neighbour who often complains about barking doesn’t notice her so much.

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  11. Sounds a bit like my Koda who is a tenacious communicator. 🙃

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  12. Sophie barks mainly within a half hour of dinner time and throughout my meal preparations (I cook all of her food from scratch with low glycemic veggies and appropriate grains and meats for her diabetic condition). Sometimes if I stop preparing and just stand over her with my arms raised or crossed and say Stop, she will, for a bit…but I think dogs figure they have some control of us through the barking and it works!

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  13. Best wishes to your mother for a speedy and complete recovery. It sounds like she’s sorely missed. Cricket is too old to ‘cure’ of yapping, I believe that by two years of age, a dog’s personality, quirks and all, is fairly set for life. And being a rescue (she is I think you’ve written) that comes with additional challenges and bad habits to break if possible. I’ve had chihuahuas mostly, and they’re KNOWN for being ‘yappy little dogs”, mainly due to intimation because they’re so small. BUT some of them (like Ziggy) are just vocal. He doesn’t yap (now), but he was prone to it when I first adopted him. He loves to “talk”, especially if strangers or even well known visitors come to my house. It’s an attention seeking trait which he won’t be cured of, and I wouldn’t want him to either. Cricket, I suspect, is just doing what some small dogs do and it’s a mix of the reasons that I gave for Ziggy that she does a lot of barking too. She is such a dear little dog, and I’m so glad she found a home where, while not exactly appreciated, her barking and talking is allowed. Happy Mother’s Day sweetie (because you ARE a mom – a fur kid mom) and to your mother.

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  14. We have a goldendoodle. She’s enormous with a piercing bark. Her father was a standard poodle. Or her grandfather or something. Anyway. I recognise the 2,3 and 4 am thing that pensivity talks about but thankfully we seem to have managed to train 6am now.

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  15. Love how you compare Cricket’s voice with stinky cheese. I like stinky cheese too 😊

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  16. We love our dogs and they can do no wrong!

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  17. Cricket not barking at Kevin might be one of your post’s most intriguing points. Makes me wonder why. or if it’s because maybe of his young age or maybe she thinks he doesn’t deserve to be barked at yet or maybe they’ve shared very similar experiences and a deeper no-barking-required understanding of each other, or what if at least one of her barks translated to something like “Why can’t anyone and anything else be more like Kevin?”. Curious canines.

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  18. She has really lived a long time!

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  19. LOL! My Italian greyhound,age 10 and 13 pounds, also has a BIG MOUTH! as does his brother a 65-pound Vizsla! Loved this post. Wishes for a full and speedy recovery for your Mom.

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  20. I love this! You are wise, kind, forgiving, and loving. Understanding and accepting Cricket in spite of her flaws – what inspiration for all of us to follow! Thanks. We are all flawed, and yet, God loves us all and accepts us in spite of our flaws. Fifteen? You’ve done a remarkable job of giving Cricket a full and blessed life.

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  21. One of.my dogs barks at everything too. He is a min pin.

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  22. She does have a very sweet, irresistible face, I do hope that everyone gets through Mom’s recovery period.

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  23. Tarka, my border terrier, only barks at other dogs, never at people. I swear she would let anyone in the house without a murmur!

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