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Longing

 

I live in a constant state of longing, for safety and comfort, for love, for excitement, for satisfaction, for a lot of things. Longing is both the engine that keeps me going, and the pain that keeps me stuck. There are some things that help for a little while, like: chocolate frosting, puppy kisses, therapy. I keep thinking that a publishing contract would help a lot, because I want to know for sure that my books will be published, not to make a million dollars, just to be sure that people will get the chance to read my work. Because one of my biggest longings is to be heard, and understood.

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“What is Mommy doing here? Why isn’t she scratching me?”

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“You’ll get used to it.”

I think that I use the word longing, rather than anticipation, though, because I don’t really believe these needs will ever be filled. I am afraid that I will never get what I want; but I’m also afraid that I will get what I want, and it will disappoint me, or overwhelm me. I’m often longing for things I’ve never had, rather than things I’ve had in the past, and maybe that’s why it feels like the longing is hopeless.

Longing for things is an intense feeling, it’s not like wanting, or appreciating, or expecting; it’s painful and has a doomed, melodramatic feel to it. There’s a push pull in longing, a sense of opposites fighting it out; I long for food and weight loss, companionship and time alone, work and rest. Longing feels like keening sounds, as if there’s a wounded animal trapped in my chest. Which, I guess, there is.

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Miss Butterfly

Longing isn’t like liking. I like Caesar salad, or PB&J sandwiches, or lentil soup, but I long for a chocolate sundae with whipped cream and chocolate fudge. Longing has a level of guilt to it as well, and density, and overwhelming-ness. Longing doesn’t really lend itself to a happy-go-lucky life where you can take or leave things and just accept your lot in life.

Longing implies that there is something so much better out there, so much more satisfying, and that it is worth trekking through mountains, and ice, and fire to get to it. It implies desperation. I feel like that describes me too well, because I don’t know how to seek and accept the B+ version of my life. I’d almost rather suffer, and fail to reach my goals, than accept a life I haven’t been longing for.

I’ve worked hard to change this; to accept that most experiences will be mixed, and that very few will feel wholly satisfying. But, sometimes, I think my longing acts as a safeguard, a way to keep me from accepting things that I won’t be able to live with long term. A voice in my head is always looking around and saying, I don’t know what I do want, but I know I don’t want that.

When I watch Cricket and Ellie’s excitement – at going out for a walk, eating chicken, playing with a toy – I want to feel like that. I like spending time with the dogs, I even love it, but I long to have Butterfly back. I like doing jigsaw puzzles, and eating cherries (though the season is clearly over and the crispy, sweet, juicy cherries have been replaced with zombie cherries, and the thrill is gone), but I long for the chance to feel healthy enough to go for a run, and actually run full out.

Maybe I just long to be Cricket, instead of just being around her. I long to feel joy with the intensity that she feels it: ears flying in the wind, every thought absent except, “I’m flying!!!!!”

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(I wouldn’t want to eat chicken treats, though. They seem like they’d be very hard to chew.)

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“I’ll take the chicken treats, if you really don’t want them.”

 

 

The Buddy Call

When I went to sleep away camp for the first time, at age nine, everything was new to me. Living in a bunk with other girls, sharing sinks and toilets and showers and such a small space, when I was used to having my own room, and my own door to close out the world. But one of the biggest changes was the lake. At day camps on Long Island I’d been swimming in pools, with see-through water and the burn of chlorine up my nose. At sleepaway camp we swam in a lake, with murky depths, and floating docks that moved with the water.

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Cricket is not sure about this whole swimming thing.

I didn’t do very well on my first swim test, on the first full day of camp, but that was okay with me, because it meant that my advanced beginner swim classes would be held in the shallow water by the shore, where I could touch the ground under my feet. I was willing to learn surface dives and summersaults and treading water, and basic swim strokes, as long as I could reach out and find the ground when I needed to.

We had swim classes every morning, five days a week, and in the afternoons we had free swim. For my first three summers at camp “free” swim was required, and we needed to have a buddy. The social anxiety of, every day, having to ask someone to go swimming with me, and be tied to me, metaphorically, for forty five minutes, was brutal. I did have friends at camp, in a way I didn’t during the school year, but even so, every day the specter of rejection hovered over me. “Will you be my buddy?” is as excruciating a question to ask as you might think it is, even when I was only asking for temporary friendship.

The buddy rule was to make sure that if one person started to drown, their buddy would notice and call for the life guards on the dock. And to make sure we were all still alive, at some point during each free swim period, we had to go through the torment of the buddy call.

So, some background. Depending on our swimming ability we received a buddy tag corresponding to the shallow water (red), deeper water (yellow), and deepest water (green). I had a red tag, so I could only go for free swim in the shallow water. Someone with a yellow tag could go into deeper water, still surrounded on three sides by contiguous docks, with life guards standing at regular intervals. A green tag meant you could go into the deepest water, which was outlined in stand-alone docks connected by buoy ropes. There was only one lifeguard on each of the scattered docks, so you were mostly on your own out there.

I never wanted a green tag. I was happy to be trapped in red water, even though it meant that friends with higher level tags wouldn’t want to be my buddy, because they’d be restricted to shallow water with me. We lined up at the buddy board, and each pair of swimmers would be assigned a number, in Hebrew, in red, yellow, or green water. Our tags would be placed on the board, under our assigned number, so that if, god forbid, we failed to respond to the buddy call, they would know whose body to search for.

I’d been studying Hebrew since kindergarten, but even I found it stressful to have to remember my number in Hebrew, under stress. The problem is that the number fifteen, using Hebrew letters as numbers, spells one of the names of God, and therefore can’t be said out loud. So instead of using the letters for ten and five, we had to use the letters for nine and six to make fifteen, I think. Just trying to think this through again is bringing up long buried panic.

Anyway. You’d be swimming along, splashing your neighbors (red water was always crowded, because I wasn’t the only one happy to stay in the shallow water), and then the whistles would blow, and you had to stay still throughout the buddy call. If you were in yellow or green water, and more than an arm’s length from the dock when the whistles blew, you’d have to tread water the whole time. I would stand in red water and listen for my number, reminding my usually non-Hebrew speaking friend where our number would be in the order, worried the whole time that I was remembering or counting wrong.

I always needed a nap after free swim because of the stress of it all.

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“Cricket, are you sleeping?” “Not anymore.”

Even now, I feel like I’ve spent my whole life dreading the buddy call, but now it’s the “Are you married?” “Do you have kids?” “Where do you work?” questions. The questions that really seem to be asking if I have proven myself worthy of being chosen. And if I haven’t? It kind of feels like I’m not allowed into the pool, or the lake, of life.

Cricket thinks it’s nonsense, of course. I mean, really, who wants to swim in a lake anyway? She also believes in the reject-them-before-they-can-reject-you philosophy, with lots of barking added.

 

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“I don’t always bark, but when I do there’s a very good reason, Mommy.”

I’m not sure where Ellie stands on these issues yet. We’ll just have to wait and see.

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When she wakes up from her nap.

Miss Ellie Goes to the Vet

 

We took Ellie for her first vet visit last week, or her first one as an official member of the family, but for some reason she didn’t see it as the beautiful rite of passage I’d imagined. She sat on my lap in the waiting room, ignoring Boopy, the African Grey parrot (even though he was whistling and banging on his noisemakers to get her attention). She also ignored the enormous German Shephard puppy on the floor, and the little apricot poodle on the bench across from us, and just sat there and shook.

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Boopy, giving me the eye

She didn’t need the kind of restraints Cricket generally needs during her exam, though she was clearly tempted to pee on the table. The vet took blood and gave shots and added another tag to her collar (we’d gotten her a blingy grey collar, and red flower name tag by then). Then the vet answered my questions: about a grain-free diet (because we’d been told that Havanese dogs need a grain-free diet, but the vet said no way, research has shown heart trouble resulting from unnecessarily grain-free diets); and about wet versus dry food (both fine, to Ellie’s great disappointment, since she was hoping for a prescription for whole roasted chickens). And then he said that Ellie would need a dental cleaning, as soon as possible. Eek! He showed me the plaque at her gum line, just to make sure I got the message, that only bad dog mommies would leave those teeth uncleaned. We paid for the visit but I didn’t schedule the dental procedure right away, because, one, anesthesia scares the crap out of me, especially for someone as small as Ellie, and two, the cost of the cleaning would start at $400 and go up from there depending on the seriousness of her dental situation.

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Ellie, very concerned

My last experience with anesthesia was with Butterfly’s emergency hernia surgery, a few months before she died, when, with her heart disease, she had less than a fifty percent chance of survival. I tried to talk myself through the differences between the two situations, but flashbacks were inevitable. Of course, I decided to go through with it anyway. I trust Cricket and Ellie’s vet, both on what he thinks my girls need for their health, and on what is safe or unsafe for them. And I want Ellie to have her teeth for as long as possible. Miss Butterfly made do with the teeth she had, but I know she would have enjoyed having more teeth to chew her food with.

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Miss B

So, a week later, we took the food and water bowls off the floor at nine PM, because Ellie had to be empty for anesthesia. And no one got treats after the first walk of the day the next morning, because I was afraid that if I gave one to Cricket, Ellie would wrestle her to the ground and grab it out of her mouth. She likes food, a lot. Cricket stared at the treat shelf for an extra ten seconds, to let me know that I was making a horrible mistake, but she actually gave up pretty quickly and both girls went back to sleep.

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The girls, resting with Grandma

The real problem came when I went to put Ellie’s leash on, and Cricket pushed in front of her and started jumping at me, looking for her own leash. Usually Cricket gets her leash on first, so clearly something was wrong. I told Cricket that she didn’t want to go to the place where Ellie was going, and that as soon as we left she’d get to eat her breakfast, but she didn’t believe me. I had to pick her up and hand her off to Grandma, so that I could get Ellie out the door.

Ellie sat calmly in the backseat of the car, and then sat by my feet in the waiting room until the vet tech arrived to take her to the back. She even made sure to give me nose kisses before she was taken away, and that helped a little bit. Well, it helped me.

We got the call about an hour later that she was already out of the anesthesia and awake and no teeth had to be extracted. I’d been ready for a day of worrying, that I’d never see her again, or that the procedure would get complicated and she’d lose ten teeth and maybe a limb, but here they were calling and saying, nope, all good. We weren’t allowed to pick her up until three o’clock in the afternoon though, and, since I couldn’t think straight, I ended up doing a jigsaw puzzle for the next few hours, until we were finally allowed to go get her.

Cricket refused to be left at home for the pickup, even though I made sure to remind her that we’d be going to the vet. She sat on my lap in the passenger seat of the car while Mom drove, and then she huddled behind my neck as we got closer to the vet’s office, and then she jumped out of the car as soon as the door was open half an inch. When we went to the front desk to tell the receptionist we were there to pick up Ellie, Cricket spoke up too, and then we heard Ellie’s little whisper bark from the back room. She’d heard our voices! She knew us! Either that or she’d been barking at every noise for the past four or five hours, but I prefer my version.

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“Where’s my sister?!”

They had to do a few more things in the back room, though, and Cricket was impatient to see her sister, so she waited at the door, ignoring Boopy’s whistles and greetings. When Ellie came marching out she was perky and totally fine, and I was shocked. Even after just getting x-rays Miss Cricket always looked like she’d been hit by a truck, but here was Ellie, after anesthesia and dental scraping, looking like she was ready to party. And she knew exactly who I was, and that I was her home. How had she learned that so fast? I was sure she’d be angry at me, or think I was a stranger coming to pick her up, but no, she was blasé about the whole thing. Like, Hey Mom, are you ready to go? Anything good for lunch?

 

We loaded back into the car and Cricket immediately took up her spot behind my neck, letting me know that her ordeal had been much more traumatizing than anything Ellie had gone through. And Ellie was cool with it, leaning forward to see what was going on, sniffing Cricket’s nose, and licking my arm.

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“Look at my beautiful teeth!”

The fact is, even in the short month they’ve been together, Cricket and Ellie have learned how to work as a team. They wake me up early to go out for their first morning walk (and then their morning treat, and breakfast, and their second morning walk). Ellie waits for Cricket to finish as much as she’s hungry for, before she gobbles up the rest of the food in Cricket’s bowl. Sometimes they elbow each other out of the way when scratchies are on offer, but they’ll accept tandem scratching. They even nap together, or at least they nap in the same place and at the same time.

When we got home, Ellie was only allowed to have a few ice cubes and still no food, but she was still fine with everything. I was wiped out and in need of a three hour nap, but she looked like she could have taken another five walks. I don’t know where her resilience comes from, or how she’s managed to adapt to life with us so quickly. She trusts me. She snuggles next to me. And she smiles. She asked to come up on the bed, and she let me look at her newly shiny teeth, and then she stretched out for a nap, a few inches away from me on one side, and a few inches away from Cricket on the other side and she fell asleep. I’m pretty sure she was dreaming about eating roasted chicken, but maybe she was just sending herself to sleep with the knowledge that she was finally home, where she belongs.

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Sleepaway Camp

 

It’s probably the heat that made me think of sleep away camp. I spent five summers in upstate New York, supposedly in the Berkshires, pretending it was cooler out of town. The memory that started the ball rolling was of Friday nights in the dining hall. The whole camp would eat together for that one meal, eating half-burned, half-raw, Kineret pre-frozen challahs, and singing Shabbat songs.

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“I could eat.”

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“Food? Where?”

Friday night to Saturday in camp was a big production. First, on Friday afternoons, we had to clean up the field in front of our bunks, then we had to clean our bunks, and then shower, and then dress up, in something other than shorts and t-shirts. All of the kids on A-side (ages 8-12) would go to one Shabbat service, and all of the kids on B-side (ages 12-16) would go to another, and then we came together for dinner in the dining hall, with all of the counselors, and visiting parents, and staff, and various random adults. And we would sing. The acoustics were glorious! And everyone joined in, even the coolest of the cool kids.

Friday night services at camp were a little awkward, because we were all dressed up and self-conscious and mixing with the other age groups with kids we didn’t know as well. And it was formal and serious, something else we weren’t used to. But once we got into the dining hall something changed. Everyone knows food. We sat by bunk, with our counselors, and listened to the noise level grow as everyone else entered the building. Then we went up to the front tables to pick up extra challah and extra chicken and potatoes. And once we finished eating, and cleaned our tables, we started singing Friday night songs, and even if you didn’t know what the words meant, the huge sound of clapping hands and stomping feet pulled everyone along. There were call and response songs, and bouncy songs, and slow, sweet songs.

It was perfect. I could forget for a moment about the cool kids at the next table who wouldn’t even deign to make eye contact with me, and just sing and feel connected.

After dinner we went off by age groups, and the night dwindled down, and we returned to our bunks in the dark, with only the bathroom lights to guide us (because we weren’t supposed to touch the light switches until the Sabbath ended).

Saturday was taken up with prayer, and some sort of “meaningful” activity, or napping. We ate cold cuts for lunch, and macaroni salad, and egg salad, and Butterscotch pudding for dinner (because the kitchen staff wasn’t allowed to cook, or even heat up any food, on the Sabbath).

On Sunday morning, we went back to the normal pace of life. We went to prayer services every morning, back in our shorts and t-shirts, and thinking about other things. We had to clean our bunks, and go to swim lessons, and play some god awful sport in the hot sun, and paste pompoms on Styrofoam cups or some such thing.

There were no dogs at camp, and I missed Delilah and her restful presence. Even her barking would have been okay with me, compared to some of the shrieking that went on at camp. Had no one ever seen a spider before getting to camp? I mean, really.

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My Delilah, looking much more serious than she really was.

I’ve always felt like there was a novel in those five years of camp, or a memoir, or something. But then, I tend to think everything belongs in a book, if it happened to me.

Camp was a constant balancing act between enjoying the freedom of a whole world of mostly children, and the strangeness of being away from home, and feeling the deep down fear that I would never see my Mommy again.

The memories come back in sharp bursts: like the campout on the hill; and the girl who ran through a glass door; and the girl who was stung by 39 wasps; Color War, when my bunk was split down the middle, and my counselor was on the opposite team; the Violent Femmes singing A Blister in the Sun; sitting on the stone steps by the lake, and singing Little Boy Blue and The Man in the Moon; or lining up in the community building to play Human Foosball.

In a way I felt outside of my body even when it was all happening the first time around, and not just now as I look back and try to narrate.

A lot of time at camp was spent keeping us busy, and keeping us Jewish, rather than doing things that actually interested me. There was no writing class, or voice, or dance, or acting class. I had no TV, or access to a phone. We had one musical show per year, per age group, and we had to audition, so sometimes I got a role, and sometimes I didn’t. We went swimming twice a day, and chose between aerobics, or softball, or basketball, or soccer for sports. In the afternoons there was woodworking, or radio, or arts and crafts, or photography, or nature, and I wasn’t much good at any of it.

But Friday night was my night. I didn’t feel left out, or weird, on Friday night. Everyone sang. Everyone was there, and I fit in.

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Just like baby Cricket,

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and not-so-baby Ellie.

The Little Bird

 

The morning we brought Ellie home, I was out with Cricket in the morning and we came across a little robin, sort of hopping on the walkway in stutter steps, and then belly flopping onto the grass. Cricket had had a moment of uneasiness with her legs a few minutes earlier, possibly as a result of the ACE she takes to tolerate grooming, so I was extra sensitive to motor problems in animals at that particular moment. When I tried to get closer to the robin to see what was wrong, though, she hopped behind a line of bushes and disappeared.

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Not the exact bird, but a relative.

We saw the robin again in the afternoon, when she was bravely crossing the lawn to the tree-side, in her faltering little hops. The bird was able to sort of hop/fly up onto the first step of the retaining wall, where she could sit and rest for a bit. I worried that there was something wrong with her wings and she needed help, but each time I got close to her the robin freaked out and hopped away.

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Another relative, giving me the eye.

When we took Cricket and Ellie out for their first official walk that evening, the robin was sitting on the lawn a few feet in front of our door. Mom said that her speckled breast meant that she was young, less than a year old, and maybe just learning to fly for the first time, rather than experiencing a serious injury.

And by our next walk, the robin was gone. If she was able to fly, even a short distance away, then maybe her motor issues were temporary, just like Cricket’s. I’d like to think that she was testing her wings, and making new friends, and starting the next phase of her life. Just like me. I’ve been taking these stutter steps towards my future for a long time now, unsure if I can do it, unsure if my difficulties are just growing pains or permanent disability. I need to take a lot of breaks to rest and re-group, but even if I have to hop instead of fly most of the time, I keep going. Just like the little bird.

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Mama robin watching over everything.

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p.s. Ellie is fitting right in.

 

The Butterfly Anniversary

 

 

Butterfly has been gone for a year now. The plan was to wait until after the one year anniversary to look for another dog, but then Ellie appeared a couple of weeks early and we couldn’t say no. I’m still not done mourning for Butterfly, and I’ll never be “over” her. No one will fill the Butterfly shaped void in my heart, but I think Butterfly is thinking of us and hoping for the best, for Cricket, and for all of us.

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My Butterfly

The Butterfly Bush seems to be thriving. Mom believes it’s because she chose a spot with good sunlight, and carefully removed the encroaching Hasta leaves, and makes sure to give it enough water and prune the old blossoms. I think it’s because I make sure to give the Butterfly Bush a fresh raspberry each time I give one to Cricket, from our out-of-control raspberry bushes.

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Raspberry-fed Butterfly bush

The anniversary has been on my mind for a while, especially because Cricket turned eleven this year, and I worry about her health. I can’t tell if my anxieties are really about her, or about a fear of reliving Butterfly’s health issues. God forbid I’d ever have to give Cricket daily shots. She’d kill me first.

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“I still have teeth, Mommy.”

We had a scare with Cricket recently, a few weeks before Ellie came home. I woke up, and wandered into the bathroom to brush my teeth, and found my keys, and put on my shoes, and still there was no sign of Cricket. I checked Mom’s room, in case they were both gone and the morning walk had already been taken care of, but Mom was still sleeping, and there was no sign of Cricket on the bed. I checked all of Cricket’s favorite hiding spots in the apartment, under my bed, under her couch, in the kitchen, by the front door, but I couldn’t find her. I was starting to freak out and went back into Mom’s room to, not so calmly, ask her where Cricket was. And that’s when I finally saw Miss Cricket, disappearing under her grandma’s bed, very slowly. I was reassured that she was still alive, and not reenacting my ever present flashbacks to Butterfly’s last weeks, and the middle of the night crises, and hospitalizations, were still reverberating. But why was Cricket hiding under the bed? Was she ill?

My only diagnostic option was to invite her for a walk, and see if she would come out from under the bed. It took her a few minutes to accept my invitation, and she walked very slowly down the stairs, and outside, and started to go into poopy position right on the brick walkway, which isn’t like her. I inched her over to the grass to do her business, and as she stood back up, I finally saw the problem. Miss Cricket had a poopy butt. She did not appreciate my laughing at her pain, but I was so relieved to find out that she was just trying to prevent the inevitability of a bath, instead of having some kind of mortal illness, that I couldn’t help myself.

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“This is so undignified.”

Cricket made sure to shake her newly clean butt in every direction once her bath was over, and she raced around the apartment in a frenzy, and gave me the evil eye for the next few hours, but really, I didn’t care. She was clean and healthy and sticking around. What else could possibly matter?

 

 

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Don’t tell Cricket, but she is very close to accepting her new sister. Butterfly would be proud.

Welcome Home, Ellie

 

We got a call from Cricket’s groomer, last Friday, saying that she had a five-year-old Havanese female and would we want to meet her. She’d rescued the dog from a breeder, but then she realized she didn’t have the time and energy for another dog. We had asked her to keep her eyes open, and so, she thought of us.

 

My original plan was to wait until the end of my internship, in early August, to start looking for a dog, but the call came on Cricket’s eleventh birthday, about two weeks before the one year anniversary of Butterfly’s death, and I’d like to believe that the timing is a sign that she’s the one for us. Ellie is a breeding dog, like Miss B, with mainly white hair and a compact build, like Miss B, but she doesn’t really remind me of Butterfly. She reminds me more of Dobby, the house elf in Harry Potter, with her big eyes, and her fear of being hit, and her uncertainty about how to manage freedom.

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Miss Ellie

Ellie checked a few boxes for me right away: smaller than Cricket, not a puppy but not a senior either, Havanese (hypoallergenic, non-shedding, good-tempered companion dogs). But we found out that Ellie had had her “barker” removed by the breeder, and was very skittish around humans, for a number of possible reasons. Mom was freaked out by the no “barker” idea, because, what is a dog without a bark?

We decided to go ahead and brought Cricket in for a haircut on Saturday morning, to turn her back into a recognizable dog, and to introduce her to Ellie and see if they could get along. Cricket sniffed Ellie and Ellie sniffed Cricket, and war didn’t break out, so we decided to take her home for a trial visit. The groomer gave us the supplies she’d already bought for Ellie, including cans of wet food, grain-free treats, wee wee pads and a doggy bed, plus her harness and leash. She said that, if we decided to keep her, we could pay her back for her spaying and shots, and then she’d be ours.

She doesn’t respond automatically to “Ellie,” so it’s unclear if that’s been her name all along or not. She has salt and pepper hair on her ears, and I thought “Pepper” might fit her, but Mom worried that it sounds too much like other “P” words, and could cause confusion, so we’re sticking with “Ellie.” She has a long back, and short legs, and her nose is longer than Cricket’s. Her ears sit up like pig tails, and her eyes are huge. She eats very quickly and would seemingly eat everything in the house, if we gave her a chance, so no more leaving kibble out for Cricket all day.

 

Early on, Ellie paced through the whole apartment, to check things out, and even went under Cricket’s couch, while Cricket watched, horrified. I think some message must have been sent, silently, that Ellie should never go under that couch again, because she has stayed clear.

 

We still have her in her harness all day, because the process of taking it off and putting it back on freaks her out. Even clipping on her leash for a walk terrifies her. She lets me pick her up, sometimes. Other times she turns away from me as if I am the bogey (wo)man from her nightmares.

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“You’re so scary.”

She doesn’t know what to do with herself overnight yet. I’ve put her on my bed, but the slightest sound scares her off and she jumps to the floor and wanders through the apartment, using the living room rug as her wee wee pad, because she can’t remember that her wee wee pad is by the front door. We gently remind her where to pee, and clean up after her, and praise her when she pees outside, but I’m not sure she’s able to take it in yet. She’s started to play with toys, even pouncing on a ball when it was thrown for her. And every once in a while she gives us licks when we pet her head. She’s warmed up to Mom faster than to me, asking for uppies and sitting on her lap for a little while during the day, but I’m catching up.

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“I love Grandma.”

 

Ellie is a gift, but I keep worrying that I didn’t choose her, and she just fell into my lap by luck. And I don’t trust luck, or fate, to do right by me. Part of my uneasiness is her uneasiness. She’s very skittish with humans, and when she stares at me, I worry that she’s scared of me, rather than interested. If I turn the page of a book, she stares at me, worried, but then she flops back down into her resting pose, where she looks almost at ease, stretching her legs and lifting her chin onto the rim of her bed.

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“Excuse me, I’m stretching here.”

 

I’m sure I had second thoughts with Butterfly too when she first came home, with her health issues, and her tendency to shut down and not interact at first. But she was the right dog for me at that moment and the fact is, Ellie is going to blossom over time, and she will have her own lessons to teach me, and to teach Cricket. Butterfly taught us unconditional love, persistence, and resilience. I don’t know what Ellie will teach me, but I’m looking forward to finding out.

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“Me too!”

Mom was right, though, the silence was eerie. Ellie didn’t bark at all at first. She listened to Cricket’s barking with interest, and/or fear, but she didn’t make a sound, just opened her mouth a little bit and closed it again. Mom thought she heard a high pitched bark one day, not from Cricket, but we weren’t sure. Then, Wednesday night, after my long day, I came home to Ellie and Cricket waiting for me at the door, both jumping up to greet me. And then, Ellie barked, again and again and again. Her bark is high pitched and light, as if she has a sore throat, but she has a lot to say and she wants to be heard.

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“I just need to practice.”

 

There was one more sign. The first morning after Ellie’s first night with us, a brown butterfly came flying through the living room, flitting everywhere frantically, seeming to sniff the air, and sniff both dogs, to take stock of the situation. It made me think that maybe Miss Butterfly had sent her, to let us know that Ellie is the right one for us.

So, we wrote the check, and called the vet to have Ellie’s records transferred, and Ellie is officially ours. And I don’t even think Cricket minds, too much.

Cricket is sad

“Oy.”