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The Tissue Thief


Cricket is a tissue thief. Cricket used to stalk a tissue like it was a wild beast. She’d lower herself into a bow, like she was about to play a very serious game of twister. Then she’d grab the tissue with her teeth and run to a safe place to dismantle it. She could have been sleeping when the sound of a tissue being pulled from the box woke her up. And if she couldn’t get the tissue directly from my hand, she’d jump off the bed and try to get the tissue on its way to the garbage can.

The thing is, it has to be a used tissue, and I have allergies, so Cricket has a lot of used tissues to choose from. Sometimes I am lazy and leave a couple of tissues on my bedside table before forcing myself to sit up and throw them all away in a clump. Cricket can’t reach the top of the bedside table, but she can leap off the bed, walk slowly between the bed and the table and gradually rise up on her toes to see where the tissues went and calculate whether she can reach them with her teeth before she loses her balance.

In my room, the garbage can is two feet tall and elevated on a file box another foot in the air, so that Cricket can’t shove her paws through the top and remove stray tissues. But it doesn’t stop her from trying.

The garbage can in the living room even has a locking mechanism on it.

Some time in Cricket’s first year, after I’d been thinking that for sure she was devouring the tissues whole, we discovered her stash behind the TV. There wasn’t just a tissue or two back there. There were dozens, maybe a hundred tissues, piled together where I couldn’t see them as I walked past. And yes, I’m sure I should have been a better housekeeper, pulling the TV center forward to dust behind it more than once a year, but I didn’t, and Cricket was skinny enough to squeeze herself back there and secrete her treasures there for later use.

It’s the same way she buries crackers or bones or pieces of cheese in various corners of chairs and couches and under beds, certain she’ll find a use for them later.

Cricket is a hoarder, that’s what I’m trying to say.

My mother is stubborn. She has kept her two short, open-topped, garbage cans, one plastic and one wicker, in her bedroom. Predictably, any time a tissue is used and dropped into either garbage can, Cricket jumps off the bed, pushes her nose inside and pulls out the tissue with her teeth. Then she’ll either jump back onto the bed with her treasure, or slink under the bed to her “apartment” where no human can disturb her.

There are times, not many, when it is safe to blow my nose. These are the times when she is too exhausted to even lift her head, and she closes her eyes and just dreams of the all the tissues she’d like to eat. I can only imagine the magical tower of tissue boxes she climbs in her dreams. She is a very happy puppy.