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Cricket, the Town Sheriff

Cricket thinks she’s the Town Sheriff. She’s fluffy, and barely fifteen pounds, but she believes it is her job to protect her home, to the death if necessary. She rains barks on people, but she can’t discern between deserving targets and innocent victims.

Cricket, mid-bark

Cricket, mid-bark

As soon as we moved into our new apartment, Cricket realized that her greatest challenge, by far, is the Seven Eleven up the block. We live just around the corner from what is clearly the neighborhood hub. People fill the parking lot and the sides of the street and flow in and out all day, for the twenty varieties of coffee, a wall of sandwiches, miscellaneous doodads and a chance to schmooze.  Cricket thinks schmoozing will lead to chaos, so she barks warnings at truck drivers, moms, teenagers from the local high school, and men who hesitate to leave the safety of their cars.

Cricket's disapproving look

Cricket’s disapproving look

            As we walk past the Seven Eleven, there’s a bus stop and then a train station. A lot of innocent bystanders, waiting for transportation, see my cute fluffy dogs and get a big surprise when Cricket opens her mouth with a blast of rat-a-tat-tat. More than one victim has clasped his heart in shock. (Women are never shocked. I find this interesting.)

Cricket also guards the car

Cricket also guards the car

            When people come to visit us, Cricket’s bark-o-meter gets jammed and she can’t shut it off. She barks at anyone who dares to enter her sacred space and continues to bark even after they leave, running to the door as if to say, “and another thing!”

The only way to calm her down is to hold her in my arms, or let her climb on my head and neck like a monkey. With enough physical contact and reassurance, she will sputter down into an occasional rumbly growl. But if I let go, or, God forbid, put her down on the floor, all hell breaks loose again.

            Most visitors expect Cricket to quiet down, eventually. They figure, I’m nice, I’m not here to rob anyone, she’ll figure that out and give up the fight. Nope.

            Cricket barks at the maintenance men when they come to mow the lawn. She barks when she hears a door closing in another apartment, or footsteps in the hall, or the mail being delivered. When she’s on the stairs or in the lobby of our building, her voice resonates like she’s barking inside of a tuba.

I had hoped that Butterfly’s calmer demeanor would help Cricket reexamine her prejudices and maybe learn some Zen, but the improvements, in this area, have been minor. If anything, Cricket has recruited Butterfly as her deputy.

Deputy Butterfly

Deputy Butterfly

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About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

76 responses »

  1. Sometimes dogs can be like kids. You think a chi;d will be a good influence and the bad kid corrupts the good.
    My dog out did himself recently when he boarded a kayak with my husband and went for a ride. He was terrified once they started moving but even worse when it came to getting off. He lay down and sunk his claws into my husband and was shaking like a leaf. He put him back in the yard after that and he chewed through the gate and we found him 10 doors down running all over the place distressed. He was grounded after that for the rest of the day! Crazy mutt!

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  2. Cricket is gorgeous!! and she is not alone..anyone anything comes within sight of me or the house..Doc is at it….fox terrorist I call him 🙂 he is convinced that a Murdulator is going to get me hahahhahaha…one day they might who knows but i’m sure he would irritate them to death if they tried 🙂

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  3. What a cute story! Perhaps Cricket is stressing out with all the activity going on? Mom is buying me a Thundershirt for my anxiety. She thinks that its compression will help with some of my nervous issues. Possibility for Cricket and the constant barking? They are available at Amazon if you are interested. I will have mine by Tuesday so I can wear it for fireworks on the 4th. Hoping for good results because I don’t like fireworks. Woof!

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    • Cricket loves her Thundershirt! We bought it for her went she couldn’t stop barking at the nice cashier at Petco who wanted to give her a treat. She wears it when people come over, and it’s possible that her barking has been lessened, but who could tell? She’s still LOUD.

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      • Woof! I’m hoping for good results. Dr. W. said it was 50/50 for me re: the Thundershirt. Still waiting to hear from Black Dog K9 on the obedience school. But I’ve been feeling much better and a lot less itchy since I’ve been to the vet! Getting a lot of “good girls” lately but been really sleepy!

  4. http://www.petdirectory.com.au/?page=directory&country=1&section=1&ldoc=1269

    I don’t know if the above site will work but I love Maltese I have had three including the present one, and they have all been family dogs not show dogs,

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  5. I’m with Cricket. Every Monday and Thursday morning, this big truck appears. I bark like hell at it but it keeps coming back. It’s gotten so bad that we can’t store stuff in the big plastic container and leave on on MY property-the truck always steals the contents. What is this society coming to when property rights aren’t respected?

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    • Cricket has been saved from the knowledge that our garbage bags are still being stolen, because we bring them down to the basement, where they magically disappear. But where we used to live, the tough, denim and leather covered garbage men were very very scared of her, as they should be.

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  6. Not just the fluffy ones. My Shep mix and pit bull mix love to look out the window and bark at everything. Even a leaf or plastic bag fluttering by.it was getting to be to much so I have been keeping the shades down. Now both of them are mad at me lol

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    • Those plastic bags make Cricket crazy! She’s just not sure if it’s a fast moving animal or a leaf or a trick of the eye, and the frustration of not knowing makes the hysteria rise and rise.

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  7. We live across the street from a heavily-used walking path…Gizmo ignores the walkers, bikers, skaters, etc except when there’s a dog…he barks at every dog going by and I like to think he’s just issuing an invite to come over and play

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  8. After living with a Sheltie that barked so long and loud at everything ….even large leaves in the wind, I decided that Shelties were not for me. Now I have a Silky Terrier who gives one delicate woof if someone knocks one the door. Except for fire works and thunder. The Thundershirt has worked wonders. This great post took me back to my Shelty days.

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  9. Love it! Cricket and Butterfly – the town sheriff and her deputy.

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  10. She sounds just like my dachshund. Why is it the little dogs have the biggest barks?

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    • I wonder, if Cricket were an Irish Wolfhound would she feel less of a need to announce danger? Maybe she’d just stare out the window and know that no one could be stupid enough to mess with her, and smile.

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  11. Ah, Cricket reminds me of my dear poodle, Allie who has been in “the other realm” for about a year and a half now. I love the description of the sound in the hallway being like it comes from the inside of a tuba!! Allie also taught Lucky the greyhound-at-the-time (also no longer with us in “this realm”) to run to the door and bark a lot whenever there was as much as a peep coming from the hall way. She was also an eager follower of the “perpetual barking ” style, popular for its thoroughness.

    Terry and Matilda

    Reply
    • Butterfly is still learning the Cricket Method, she starts to hop around and gurgle and cry when Cricket announces danger is on it’s way, and then she runs to the door to find out what’s going on. I’m afraid Cricket’s teaching prowess will kick in very soon.

      Reply
  12. I have nothing to add. When Cricket comes up for air, Poppy will fill in the void.

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  13. I think Cricket has a Napolean complex.Some dog people in the know that I’ve spoken with seem to think that little dogs often carry on with incessant barking because it is in their genes and some people just think that barking dogs got off on the wrong foot/paw as a puppy. I have 2 small dogs and each one of them has a barking complex to a degree. It took lots of work to get them to stop although they are not angels by any stretch of the imagination.

    High anxiety and insecurity are probably the big factors. I’m not a dog expert- just had them for a very long time. The security t-shirt might work wonders that another blogger mentioned. She uses it during thunder storms, I think. Maybe investigate that to see what the shirt might do for Cricket.

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  14. Cricket clearly carries a heavy load of responsibilities so it’s great that she now has a deputy!! 🙂 They both are too adorable.

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  15. Oh! I am so in love with Cricket already!

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  16. Now that is the cutest sheriff and deputy I have ever seen! 🙂

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  17. When I looked at the second photo of Cricket I noticed for the first time just how much your Cricket looks like my Luz Maria, especially in the face. It would seem that they also have similar personalities when it comes to strangers and barking. I’ve not been able to cure Luz Maria of this annoying habit and happy go lucky Diego has not made a difference either. 🙂

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  18. BOL!!!! Love Cricket’s photo in mid bark!!!!

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  19. Cute story Love it ! Love Cricket and little Deputy Butterfly. 🙂

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  20. You have the happiest posts. I always enjoy reading them. Having two barkers also I can relate. When company comes over, as long as they don’t move they don’t get barked at, but dare they move, oh my! I can totally relate, but you know what, I wouldn’t change my dogs for the world! Thanks for another happy post! 🙂

    Reply
    • Thank you! Cricket prefers if visitors don’t: come in, move their feet, breathe, make noise, point their fingers, try to touch her, look at her, look at her people, look at her food or the food of her people. If you can avoid all of that, you’re safe.

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  21. This made me laugh! Pickles likes to bark at everyone and everything too. We had a trainer come in to help us with it, and it’s getting better. Still, like Cricket she prefers that no one look at her or acknowledge her existence. Only once a visitor ignores her does she creep up behind them for a good quick butt sniff. 🙂 I think Pickles and Cricket are kindred spirits.

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    • Cricket does that sneak attack sniffing sometimes too, but she’s not tall enough for butts, so she settles for shoes. God help you if you stepped in something before entering her domain.

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  22. Her mid bark pic looks like she’s singing. It would be cute to video her and dub music over her barks. Warning you of possible doom is her job and she does it well.

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  23. Your pups are adorable! I love the mid-bark photo. 🙂 I’ve read that dogs who bark at everything and everyone all the time are trying to protect their families, so your title of “sheriff” is very appropriate! 🙂

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  24. That is so funny. “can’t dis discern between deserving targets and innocent victims…” Brutis defends the house too. I haven’t seem him attack an innocent yet.

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  25. Cute, funny, clever……I’ll come back for more. Thank you for visiting me at Engagingthesenses. PS. Satine had to deal with a barky baby puppy sister” until she finally grew out of the her extended toddlerhood at the age of 3.

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  26. Both of em are succha a darlings and you make me fall in love with them again n again with your writing!

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  27. Have you tried a bark collar? I know some parents and dog walkers at the dog bark who have used them with great success.

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  28. Great story … I applaud Cricket … all us dogs should be as vigilant. Me, I just cut to the chase and bite the intruders (if I can get to them). Your friend, Danny the Dog

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  29. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:
    ONE RAIL LINE IN OKLAHOMA REALLY DID HAVE A DOG “HEAD OF SECURITY” !!

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  30. I love this post!!! Chancy never has paid any attention to the vacuum but he tries to eat up the lawn mower when we start it up. He bites it so hard sometimes he adjusts the height on it so we have to check that every time before we mow. It sounds like Cricket is a great protector of her mamma and she wants everyone to know they better not get too near you. Hugs and nose kisses

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    • Chancy actually attacks the lawn mower? Wow! That’s one brave boy. Cricket barks at the vacuum cleaner, and then runs and hides.

      Reply
      • As soon as the mower starts up he begins barking, growling and chewing the wheels and the handles that adjusts the blade height. I have to get hold of him and get him away so we can start mowing. He hates that lawnmower and he tries with a vengeance to kill it. Once we begin mowing he doesn’t seem to mind it…strange behavior.

  31. I had to laugh at Cricket’s role as sheriff in your ‘town’. We nicknamed the schnauzer pictured in my blog’s banner the ‘Fun Police’ because he barked at any dog appearing to have a good time. 🙂 Gosh, I love dogs and their quirks. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  32. I allways thought that small dogs have a bigger garding issue. Because they are so small they need to be tough.

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  33. I’m constantly amazed at how well dogs can convey they feelings via facial expression. Great picture!

    Reply

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