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.
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.
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?