Cricket Magic by Donna O’Donnell Figurski
Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve never been fond of dogs––or any animal that was not contained. As I grew up, I had hamsters, a fish, and a bird, but, never a dog. Many dogs looked cute, but they scared me. I didn’t like it when dogs jumped on me just to say hello. I hated it even more when dogs sniffed or licked my toes. YUCK! (Where was the nearest sink?) I never wanted a dog. I would have bet my life on my never having a dog.
So what happened to me? What magic spell was cast on me? It all started with my son and daughter-in-law’s rescue dog, Chama. Chama was a street dog in Taiwan before she ended up in Jared and Emily’s home in Santa Cruz, California. That’s where I met her. You’d think that Chama would’ve been a wild dog, but she wasn’t. She was the sweetest, most calm dog I had ever seen. When she ran away from home one day and was collected by the pound, Jared asked me to pick Chama up. I worried that I would have to touch her and that she would have to ride in my car. To say that I didn’t have reservations wouldn’t even be close to the truth. But when Chama escaped her captor’s hands and bounded towards me with such determination and love in her eyes, a chink grew in my armor. That little pup was worming her way into my heart! (But I still ran to the sink to wash my hands as soon as I could.)
After several weeks, we returned home to Arizona, leaving behind Jared, Emily, and Chama with promises of a visit the following summer. But the pandemic hit, and we canceled our trip. Of course, I was disappointed not to see Jared and Emily, but I was surprised by the longing I had to see Chama again.
That’s when the “magic” started. I call what happened to me magic because there is no logical reason for it. All of a sudden, I wanted a dog of my very own! Okay, what I really wanted was Chama, but I knew Jared and Emily would never part with her. So the next best thing was to get a clone of Chama. I started desperately searching. For months, I did research on breeds and their needs. I scoured the web poring over photos of thousands of dogs. I visited dogs in rescue centers. Though a few looked appealing, none grabbed my heart.
Finally, I found a dog that looked much like Chama, only lighter in color. Lucy was a two-year-old, a pup, and I was falling for her. Big problem––Lucy lives in San Francisco, California, but my husband, David, and I are near Phoenix in sunny Arizona. We decided that Jared and Emily would adopt her, and, when I could finally make my way to Santa Cruz after the pandemic was under control, I would take her home with me. The plan was formed. On the afternoon of June 13th, Jared and Emily would drive to San Francisco to check out Lucy and hopefully adopt her.
On that morning, I went anyway to one more rescue center, albeit with very low expectations. I was shown the picture and bio of Cricket. Strike out again! I thought. This dog looked bedraggled, and she was 13-years-old. Two strikes! I almost walked away.
Then Cricket, a little puff of beautifully colored fur that was not scruffy at all, sauntered right up to me with a very determined air. We both fell in love at first sight. I knew she was my pup. I called David. He had reservations about her age, but I didn’t care. (We had already nixed a cute dog because we thought he might be too old at 8-years-old.) But I was relentless. I had to have Cricket. Like a six-year-old, I begged for Cricket and presented a million reasons why she was the perfect pup for me. Despite Cricket’s older age, David knew that this dog had to come home with me. He now loves Cricket too, and he has never regretted allowing me to make her part of our family.
I knew I was opening myself up for heartbreak. The life-spans of Shih Poos (Shih Tzu-Poodle mixes) are 10 to 15 years. But, if I can make her as happy in her remaining years as she has already made me, that’s a deal!
Folks talk about a dog’s unconditional love. I never understood it. But I do now. Cricket is an amazing pup! She’s my little shadow, who sticks to me like glue. Her “happy dance” when I come home melts my heart. She wiggles and twists and jumps in circles. I can’t wait to ruffle her fur and tell her I missed her.
Recently we spent nearly eight weeks in Santa Cruz visiting Jared, Emily, and Chama. I can’t say that Cricket and Chama became best friends. Though they went their separate ways, they did get along well, which is what I had hoped for. They comfortably shared their beds and their food every day.
Because of Chama, Cricket is a huge part of my life. Because of Cricket, I no longer run to the sink to wash my hands after petting the pups and ruffling their fur. I love giving them back-massages and tummy rubs. (I wonder if pups know how good they have it? The rate for a massage in my neighborhood starts at $80.00, and they were getting upwards of three a day!) It was fun to see their eyes light up when I gave them treats or took them for walks.
Chama changed my life in a subtle way, but Cricket is making a huge impact on it. She makes me laugh all day long, even when she pokes her head around the corner with her inquisitive eyes––just to check if I am still there. Though she’s mischievous and her curiosity easily gets her in trouble, I can’t help but shake my head and giggle at her silly antics.
Recently, after returning home from Santa Cruz, I woke up one night to rustling and clinking sounds coming from the kitchen. I tip-toed out to the kitchen with my flashlight and found Cricket on top of the kitchen table poking around bags that hadn’t yet been unpacked––probably bags with her treats in them. Cricket’s deer-in-the-headlights expression on her face and her “I didn’t do it!” look before she leaped off of the 3-foot high table cracked me up. I wanted to laugh out loud, but I knew I couldn’t condone her impish behavior. After I assessed the damage, of which there was none, I put her into bed again, and I returned to giggle with David about our precocious pup.
I never knew how much pups are like errant children. There is a reason moms and dads have to have eyes in the backs of their heads. They have to always be on alert for young children–and pups. After a grocery pickup, I piled the bags on my studio floor before their eventual transfer to the kitchen. I closed the door, but I didn’t realize it hadn’t latched. Guess who did notice! With her cute little nose and paws, Cricket nudged open the door. She won’t play with toys, but she loves poking her nose into bags––any kind––full or empty. That day she hit the jackpot! She found a bag of hotdog rolls (How appropriate. Bet she thought she was a hotdog!) She ate about a quarter of the rolls before I found her guilty little self. Fortunately, she was fine, but I wasn’t. I worried and waited for her to get sick, and I had my vet on speed dial.
What happened to me? Why did I change? Why am I in love with a dog––something that I thought would never ever happen in my life? I have no idea. All I can tell you is that I LOVE this little 13-year-old pup! She is the magic in my life.
Donna and David adopted Cricket
Cricket loves her new home
“I didn’t do it!” insists Cricket
Chama, my inspiration for rescuing Cricket