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I used to do yoga on the living room floor every day. I’d take out my blue exercise mat, unroll it, and get to work. But then Cricket arrived and made it impossible. First she stood on my chest. Then she chewed on my hair when I was in Downward Dog. Then she attacked my fingers. When her frustration had ratcheted up to its highest point – about a minute or two later – she started to chew through my mat. Chunks of blue foam rubber scattered to every corner of the room.

            My first response was to give up on yoga, because I was already tired from fending off Cricket’s attacks and taking her out to pee every hour. Then I missed my yoga mat and gated her in the kitchen, but she could cry and bark, and slam herself against the plastic tension gate for forty-five minutes straight, or, worse, she would slide her nose under the gate and stare at me with tears in her eyes.

            I felt so guilty that I switched to exercises I could do with her in the room and with only minimal injury to me. Anything I could do standing up and wearing shoes was a good option, though she still tried to jump up and bite my hand weights during bicep curls.

            When Cricket gets frustrated with me she makes this adenoidal “fnuh” sound. Not quite a sneeze, but the noise comes from her nose more than her throat and is accompanied by a quick nod of the head, as in “Damn you!”

I can’t do strenuous exercise anymore. There’s been a gradual worsening of what’s been diagnosed as Fibromyalgia. But I still unroll my yoga mat on the living room floor and go through a series of exercises I cobbled together from physical therapy and exercise tapes I’ve watched over the years.

Cricket likes to pick out on of her toys from the toy box – the now deflated birthday cake, the purple fish, the nylon bone she’s had since puppyhood – and she brings it to me to throw for her. When she gets tired of that, she buries the toy under my shoulder, or in my hair, and then scratches at my hand to let me know that SHE wants to be scratched. Sometimes, when I’m stretched flat on the floor, she’ll do laps around me, a slow walk with stops for sniffing along the way. But sometimes, all she wants is to lean up against me and take a nap. It still surprises me that I am of comfort to her, but I am.