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Cricket’s Sweaters

            What with Cricket’s thinning hair, and aging temperature-control-system, and the onset of colder weather, plus a much-needed visit to the groomer, Cricket needed something to cover her up – both for warmth and for modesty. We already had one sweater: a red and black plaid one that came as a gift from our neighbor (when she realized it was too small for her brother’s dog) and that originally went to Ellie, who doesn’t really need or want to wear a sweater. Then I went online and found a white and grey cable knit sweater, so Cricket would have something to wear when the red and black plaid started to smell.

“Harrumph.”

            Strangely, Cricket actually seems to enjoy wearing her sweaters, though getting them pulled on over her head can set off her panic response (aka biting), so we have to be careful not to dilly dally when dressing her.

“Harrumpherrumph.”

            But even now that Cricket really needs to wear sweaters, because you can see all of her age spots and cauliflower bumps and pink skin shivering in the cold, I still can’t really go whole hog into dressing her up, because she wouldn’t put up with it, and because my mom would roll her eyes at me, and because I can’t actually afford it. And, really, Cricket and Ellie would much prefer having any extra money spent on food and treats than on clothes.

“I really don’t like clothes, Mommy.”

            The thing is, I have wanted to dress the dogs up forever, but I felt guilty about it, because Cricket was so resistant to wearing jackets and harnesses, and Ellie and Butterfly, and Dina, all looked like they were being punished when they had to wear anything at all. But recently, Cricket’s friend Kevin, the mini-Golden-Doodle, has been wearing sweaters and sweatshirts all the time, and he looks so cute and cozy and loved! For Halloween he had an adorable hoodie with a skeleton painted on the back, and I felt like such a neglectful dog mommy looking at naked Cricket in comparison.

            I actually hate dressing up myself, because it makes me feel self-conscious, and all of my body shame gets triggered. Instead, I live in a uniform of sweaters and jeans and sneakers, to avoid drawing attention to my body. When I see adult women all dressed up I tend to feel intimidated, and vicariously exhausted, and triggered into body shame just by looking at them. But Cricket and Ellie look perfect to me, and they are unselfconscious about their bodies, and I keep wishing that I could dress them up and live vicariously through them, and they won’t let me.

“No clothes!”

            In the midst of my longing to dress up the dogs, I noticed a series of videos showing up in my Facebook feed starring a dog named Noodles. Noodles wears the most wonderful outfits, with chunky necklaces, and colorful glasses with beaded chains, and frilly shirts, and she has so many different hairstyles, and she just makes my inner little girly-girl swoon. The videos themselves are hilarious too: all about Noodles’ imaginary officemates and office politics, or that time she got drunk for her third (aka 21st) birthday.

            So I scroll through Amazon for sweaters I wish Cricket would wear: sweaters with stripes and plaids and cables and ruffles and lace insets and skirts, and then I watch Noodles giving the camera side eye in her lacy blouses and braided hair, and for a few minutes I get to feel like the little girl I could have been, and maybe still am, deep inside.

There’s a little girl at my synagogue who has her own sense of style. One day she’s dressed like a widow from the 1920’s, with black netting around a small black hat on the back of her head, another day she’s a fluffy bumble bee, another she has pink hair and wings on her back. That’s not the kind of little girl I was, obviously. I was intensely conscious of how people looked at me and judged me, and more often than not I wore hand-me-down clothes from wealthier families, so I didn’t have a choice of what to wear. But when I see this little girl at synagogue, or Noodles on Facebook, or even Kevin in his hoodies, I imagine the joy I might have felt as a little girl, if not for the abuse. And seeing Noodles in her dresses and bows lets the little girl in me play dress up vicariously. And it’s wonderful! So watch out, Cricket. You may have to deal with more clothes sometime soon.

“Protect me, Ellie.”

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.

61 responses »

  1. We have to put a coat on our little schnauzer to go outside now in the cold. She always does a run around the kitchen center island when she sees the coat coming but then she stops and allows it to be put on her.

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  2. I can tell she doesn’t like wearing anything. Give her a treat every time she puts it on!

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  3. The plaid sweater is nifty.

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  4. I love the plaid sweater. Hannah can’t wait until we get our French Bulldog and she can put boots on her in the snow

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  5. I love the photos of your little doggies that you have in every post.

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  6. A very amazing and extraordinary post dear friend🤗🌹❤

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  7. Yes, giving her a treat afterward should help!

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  8. Regarding the strangeness of Cricket seeming to enjoy wearing her sweaters: maybe Kevin wearing sweaters all the time while looking cozy cute and loved could be a possible reason she appears to feel this way. Since he’s the best to her, maybe his look in sweaters helped warm her up to wearing them and enjoying them and/or maybe wearing them makes her feel closer to him and allows her to connect with him more.

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  9. Cricket looks great in that sweater. As long as she’s comfortable, that’s the main thing that matters. Sweet dogs!

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  10. Ha! I admire, from afar, the un-selfconscious. Not me. Just not comfortable in my own skin.🤷‍♂️

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  11. This one feels like you are preaching to thr choir here. Dogs, health, age, clothes, being self-conscious. I always thought I’d outgrow it, but nope. Just over 60 this year and still self-conscious. (A practice of living in the moment is helpful.) My terrier is nearly fourteen and he doesn’t mind jackets and raingear or sweaters. But this past year he has become so … old. He’s a sweet old dog, but age really crept up on him.

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  12. Maybe doodles are just born to sport clothing. Summer has a Labradoodle buddy who sports raincoats, sweaters, and cooling jackets. He had an infected spider bite over the summer and my friend had him wear her t-shirts to keep him from licking the wound. She said he liked her shirts so much he would get grumpy when she took them off him. If we tried dressing Summer, she would spend all her time finding a way to demolish the outfit then ask for another outfit because demolishing the first was so fun she’d want to do it again LOL.

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  13. Some dogs love being dressed up for whatever reason – comfort, attention, just like humans. I love Noodles! The glasses and the typing are hilarious.

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  14. I would never consider putting cloths on y girls but they are big 70 pound Golden Retrievers. I do think some cloths are super cute on the littles like Cricket Plus the littles do have a harder time with cold as they get older… Cricket looks absolutely adorable in her plaid sweater! She is quite the stylish gal!

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  15. Good for you, braving teeth to put sweaters on Cricket. I love that new knitted one! I had a schnauzer/beagle/cocker mix who was a real sweetie pie (Sammy) and he absolutely loved to wear clothes! My schnauzers have all hated it, even to the extent of refusing to move at all once the shirt/sweater was on her (that was Lexi).

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  16. My senior dog wears a modest but comfy shirt from Gold Paw. Very soft! She isn’t a fan of clothes, but when it is bitterly cold and she just got groomed, she admits that she needs it.

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  17. Hi, Rachel. I have an older rescue chiweenie who needs clothing in cold weather. I found a reasonable and wonderful store on Etsy, of all places, where the owner whips up custom clothes made with fleece, so they’re very warm and easy to care for. It’s Classic Bark and the store owner is very responsive. Good luck!

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  18. You now just have to teach them to play golf Rachel!

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  19. Cute. Getting Maya into her Hi-Vis jacket for night walks is a game. Nice post Rachel.

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  20. Love that plaid sweater. So smart.

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  21. It’s good timing you mention the issue of being self conscious of what image people wish to look or not look like. It gives me ideas on gifts to buy or not to buy for others. By the way, Happy Hanukkah.

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  22. I didn’t dress my dog up as a rule, but she was afraid of thunder, which called for a thunder shirt, and after any type of surgical procedure, it was a shirt to avoid the collar of shame, which they all hate. Then in winter she was cold after being groomed and needed a jacket… and so it went. I ended up with quite a collection of doggy garments. Cricket looks quite dashing in her sweater, and as you say, they really need something to help them stay warm as they grow older.

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  23. We have one dog that if we put clothes on her, she freezes, like she forgets how to move. She totally hates it, lol.

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  24. Aww, your mom wants you to stay warm and cozy, Cricket!

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  25. So glad you can recapture some of that joy. “…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Isa. 61: 3). ❤ ❤ ❤

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  26. I think Cricket and Eelle are very similar to some of with us who are growing old er and having age spots!

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  27. My Italian Greyhound gets cold outside, but when I put a sweater on him to walk outside, he pees on the sweater! EWWW – so, he wears clothes indoors and removes the jacket to go outdoors – OYE!

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  28. This was a lot of fun to read. I love how you love your Cricket, et al. Where would we be without our cats and dogs to bring us back down to earth and show us that, in actuality, we are no better than them?!

    I would have liked to have known you in your girlhood, Rachel. I would like to be a boy again too and to forget all the crap and sophistication we have to go through to prove to others that we are adult. I love the innocence and honesty of youth. Unfortunately, mine was also marred. But I believe that our inner child is still there and still just as innocent as ever.

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  29. Not to worry. God gave them beautiful coats!

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