Cricket recovered slowly but seeing as she had been paralyzed in her back legs, with no bowel or bladder control, any recovery was amazing. The surgery was never a sure thing and there was always the possibility that it would not work. But we worked with Cricket, through the long nights and days, until she started walking again. Then I found the biggest problem was making her understand that she was still not 100% yet because she wanted to be herself again. She wanted to get into troubles and do all the things she missed doing.
Before we knew it, Cricket had made a full recovery.
Then it was my turn. In the winter of 2007, I started to have a strange illness that led to several trips to the ER, numerous doctor visits, MRIs, and a lumbar puncture headache from hell. This went on for quite a few months – lots of doctors, lots of tests, and no answers. I was home most of the time back then, working from the couch as much as my fuzzy brain would allow. Cricket and Frodo were always curled up against me.
As time stretched on, I began to keep a handwritten journal on a daily basis. To help keep my spirits up, I would often list things that I was grateful for. One thing I kept holding on to was how grateful I was to hear the thump of Cricket’s tail. How each morning I heard it, under the blankets – thump, thump, thump, thump because she was happy to hear I was awake. She wouldn’t move from her super warm spot, but just wag her tail – thump, thump, thump.
The more I wrote how grateful I was for it, the more it made me smile each morning when I heard it. The more it made me laugh. I realized that each day, even the bad ones, Cricket always did something that would make me laugh. Even on her naughty days, she could get me to crack a smile. She was a little ham who loved the camera when I got it out. I think she started to pose in silly positions because it made me laugh in delight.
Life moved on as it tended to do. I slowly learned to deal with whatever I had, my dogs grew older, journaling opened my eyes to so many things in my life, and my marriage broke apart. During the time of my divorce, Frodo and Cricket were my greatest comfort. They stayed by my side when I felt so alone. Cricket finally settled and accepted me as the alpha of our little trio. They became “my heart, my home” because the house I had was sold, and the dogs and I had to begin life in an apartment. So no matter where I was, as long as I had the dogs with me, I was “home”.
From one apartment to another, I moved to North Carolina and discovered that winters here are awesome. And Cricket loved them too. She would get painful during the very cold and snowy Northern Indiana winters so the mild North Carolina weather helped deal with the residual pain in her back. I remember saying that she was acting like she was a younger dog again, with so much spark and energy. She was truly a happy dog but the gray was definitely showing on her muzzle.
After a few years in an apartment and having to live a life on the leash, when the first seven years of her life she had only known a fenced-in back yard, I knew the last great gift I could get my dogs (and me) was a house. I made sure to find a house that was a single story (no stairs for Cricket to have to climb) with a nice yard. The house even had a little wooden bridge that crossed the drainage area and Cricket loved that bridge. She would run to it and cross over like it was the greatest thing ever. She was fascinated with it! Since then, I have named it “Cricket’s Bridge”.
Cricket didn’t get to run the backyard like she would have if she were younger and flailing her front paws. She romped around a little but never got to run because age and spinal issues were catching up to her quickly. The last year of her life, she got to do her favorite things though. She got to sit at the front door, in the sunshine, and bark at random things. I called her the “neighborhood gossip” because she kept watch of what everyone was doing.
She would still thump her tail in the morning and find ways to make me laugh during the day, even though some days seemed too painful for her to try. After every meal, she had to chew a bone to clean her teeth out. And at night when we all got tired, she would snuggle up in the warmest spot, snore, and start dreaming.
Even in her dreams, she wagged her tail.
In loving memory of Cricket
Jan 2003 – July 2013