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Short Tales of Cricket the Yorkie

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Introducing Cricket the Yorkie

When we adopted Cricket the Yorkie (well, mostly Yorkie) last Sunday we didn't know a thing about her. No history came with the deal, and she wasn't talking. Personality? None that we could detect.

After getting the ticks off the pup's fuzzy rear end, we dumped her into a sleeping basket and she stayed there, coming out only when tempted with treats. This self-imposed isolation lasted for about a day and a half until we came home and found her lolled comfortably in my easy chair. "No!" I said firmly and booted her from her throne.

No problem, says she and jumps into my wife's chair. This up-and-down affair lasted until she got tired of the game and retired to her basket. However, if we left the house — or even left the room — she was back in a chair. After a week of reprimands, she seemed to be getting the idea that sleeping in people's chairs was a no-no — unless she was absolutely sure that we were not around.

Cricket is a dog that's nearly a year old and has had absolutely no training. Potty rules? What's that? She doesn't know "stay," "here" or "%&@#."

But she's smart. The first time we shoved her out the swinging doggie door, it scared the bejabbers out of her. Poking her nose into what appeared to be a solid surface was not her idea of fun. She cowered in her basket for an hour after getting back in the house. After a couple more forced ejections, she got the idea of the pet door. She got it too well.

Because the portal is on the north side of the house, I insulated it with an exterior side-hinged door in addition to the factory up-and-down sliding panel. When it's really cold, we close both doors and not an icy blast penetrates. Normally, when we want to keep a dog in the back yard, we just close the outer swinging door. Only our son's Australian shepherd was sharp enough to paw the door open and come inside.

Soon after Cricket learned to use the door, we put her outside to do her thing. To make sure she stayed there, we closed the outer door. A few minutes later, it was open and she was back in the house.

A day or so later, we went to the grocery store and locked Cricket out. This time, in addition to closing the exterior door, we slid the factory panel into the shut position.

You guessed it. When we got back, the swinging door was wide open and the sliding door had been raised sufficiently for her to crawl inside. And the perpetrator? She was sprawled in my easy chair.

                                                * * *

The Continuing Saga of Cricket the Yorkie

When I last updated you, we were in the process of being trained by our new dog, a Yorkie named Cricket. She was making progress, having taught us to feed and water her regularly and to allow her to sleep wherever she desired -- except on the furniture. She appears to have given up on that, recognizing that we're just too dumb to learn not to yell and carry on when she hopped into a chair.

Truthfully, Cricket wasn't hopping all that well last week. She paid a visit to the friendly neighborhood veterinarian and he performed an operation that left a small but noticeable scar on her underside. That was definitely a downer for a few days, but she's coming along well and gets her stitches out Thursday.

You remember me telling you how she broke into the house through the doggie door when we locked her out? She opened a separate exterior door and then raised the sliding panel over the opening itself. When we got home, we found her asleep in my easy chair. Well, I figured I had a simple and easy fix for that. I drilled a small hole through the doggie door panel and into the frame behind it. When we wanted to keep her out, we'd just wedge a wooden peg (actually, an inch or so of a chopstick) into the hole. No fuss, no muss. Easy solution. So today when we went to lunch we booted her out, and I secured the doggie door with my unpatented invention. Came back an hour later, and there Cricket was in the living room. She apparently diagnosed the locking mechanism, pulled out the peg with her teeth and nosed up the sliding panel as she had previously learned to do.

But there was a difference. Rather than being in my chair when we came home, she had satisfied herself with a place on the floor. Probably too tired from her exertions to give us another lesson in not yelling at her.

                                                * * *

It Shouldn't Happen to a Dog

By Cricket the Yorkie

Well, they've been yelling at me again. I dearly love my new people but I swear those two are the touchiest individuals I've encountered in my year of existence.

First it was the furniture. Apparently they don't want me to be comfortable. Here I am doing everything possible to bring a little joy to their humdrum lives and what do they do when I hop up on a chair? They YELL at me. You don't see them sitting on the floor. Oh, there was the time last week when Bob sort of slipped down when he was coming back from the fridge with another of those little brown bottles. He sat on the floor for a good while before getting up. But normally they perch on chairs while I'm relegated to the floor like a ... like a ... DOG.

Then there's the matter of the leather string that they attach to my collar. They tug on it and yell, "Heel!" Well, I know who the heel is, and it's not me. Actually, I've learned to put up with that particular bondage because when I'm on the end of the string I get to go out front where there are all sorts of good smells. Other dogs have visited and made note of their presence. Also, cats. Yech, makes my hackles rise just thinking about them being in MY front yard.

Like I say, I can put up with the leather string, but one thing I will not tolerate is being shut up in a room like a prisoner. I had a few unfortunate bodily accidents in the living room, and those people went ballistic. They put me in the kitchen at night and placed an old window screen over the door opening to keep me there. Ha! I shredded that screen from top to bottom and found a nice comfy sleeping spot in the living room -- but not before I deposited a little gift in front of their bedroom door.

But they got their revenge. Heaven knows I'm not a vain dog, but I am quite proud of my hair. It's long and wild. Sort of makes me feel like a wolf gal. But no more. Now I look like a skinned possum. Those PEOPLE took me to a torture house where a fat old woman cut off all my beautiful fur in a style she called a "puppy cut." Arg!

Another gift in front of their bedroom door tonight.

                                                * * *

The Education of Humans

By Cricket the Yorkie

The work of educating my new family continues, but sometimes I think it's a hopeless task. They are SO hardheaded. For instance, I tried to show them the benefits of me bedding down on the living room furniture at night. Up high like that I could more easily spot burglars or the occasional cat that might wander in through the doggie door. But nooooo, they couldn't see it and kept yelling and taking on until I finally just gave up and found a comfy spot on the floor to sack out.

Oh, and did I tell you about spotting an unfortunate character trait in my master? He's a hoarder. Collects all sorts of useless junk that clutters up the house and yard. The tables in the living room are apparently his chosen storehouse. I figured that if I got rid of a few items for him, he'd see the error of his ways and shape up. I did a number on the nail clippers (everyone knows that the way to groom your nails is by scratching on the screen door), TV log, coasters and a very delicious tube of hand cream. Apparently my mistress is also afflicted with the hoarder disease.

There's no end to the stuff on those tables. That thing that they point at the TV is definitely useless. Doesn't make a sound or ANYTHING. Well, I attempted to dispose of that one night and made a rude discovery. It's poisonous! A terrible, terrible bitter taste. What's more, it's contaminating the rest of the house. Even the table legs (which once were savory and chewy) are tainted. A girl certainly has to watch what she chews on these days. I tell you, my diet has been limited of late.

One thing I have managed to teach my people, however, adds to a pleasurable event. We've been going on walks in the schoolyard near our house and they've been taking off my leash and letting me run free. Such a treat! I can pretend I'm a wolf on the prowl or a greyhound at the track. There was one sticky problem. Just when I'm going good, the master starts yelling at me. "Here, Cricket ... here, Cricket ... here, Cricket." Endlessly. Naturally, I ignored him. Why should I interrupt a good romp without an incentive? Well, he finally got the idea and started rewarding me with the tastiest little tidbits you can imagine. Something called Chicken Bites. Now I come every time I'm called.

See, humans are teachable -- to some extent.

                                                * * *

My Addiction

By Cricket the Yorkie

Hello, my name is Cricket and I'm an addict.

I admit it! I admit it! I can't help myself. My counselor (who will henceforth be referred to as "Bob the %#*&") says that the definition of addiction is "the continued involvement with a substance or activity despite the negative consequences associated with it."

That just about nails it. I've endured repeated scoldings, exiles to the back porch, and (oh, the horrors) swats from said Bob the %#*&, but I still do it.

I chew up things.

Combs, nailfiles, letter openers, gift cards... Ah, yes, gift cards. That was the latest source of an outrageous display of temper by Bob the %#*&. I don't see why he was so upset. It was a Braum's card, and isn't that a place where you get things to eat? And it was on the floor. The way I look at it, anything on the floor is MINE, because that's my territory.

I've conceded the furniture to the humans who live with me. I no longer appropriate items from tables and shelves in the house. That disturbed them greatly. (Besides, I became suspicious concerning the safety of some of the objects within my reach. They tasted horrible, like bitter stuff had been sprayed on them.) But anything on the floor is MINE.

Paper is my specialty. I pride myself on being able to outdo the humans' paper shredder. I can get more bits out of an envelope and its contents than any machine can. Sort of a John Henry kind of thing.

But I'm not particular what I chew. When I get bored with my collection of bones and toys and there aren't any dropped objects lying around, I have been known to go outside and bring in a stick to chew on. It's an addiction, I tell you. Probably inherited. Bob the %#*& says my father must have been a beaver.

Gotta go now. I think I see something under the end table over there.

                                                * * *

Cricket the Yorkie's update

By Cricket the Yorkie

Hi! How are you humans today? Just thought I'd let you know how things are going after a year in my new home.

I'm getting my people whipped into shape, and we've settled into a routine. I have them put out a big bowl of food for me each day and supplement it with treats as the occasion warrants. The treats include those delicious Chicken Bites that I require the humans to give me when I reward them by coming when they call during our late afternoon walks in the school playground near our house.

Ah, the school playground... That's the highlight of my day. I've made a lot of canine friends there because it backs up to a line of backyards with dogs in practically every one. A fuzzy white pup named Gigi and her mother live in one yard. She used to squeeze through the opening between the gate and fence and we would run all over the playground. Then she got too big to get through the opening. What a shame.

But my best friend at the playground is Enzio, and there aren't many openings he could squeeze through. He's BIG. His master says he's a Belgian shepherd crossed with a horse. (I think he's joking — but I'm not sure.) Enzio occasionally takes his human on a walk in the playground and we have a great time. Since he weighs about 90 pounds and I weigh 13 1/2, I have to be careful to stay out of his way because he might trip over me and hurt himself.

Speaking of backyards, I have a slight problem back home. I like chewing bones. Good for the teeth, y'know. But I don't like just any bone. The best bones are the ones that are mature. You know, like fine wine. So when my humans give me a new bone, I age it by burying it in the backyard. For some reason this annoys my people. Hmm, maybe it's because the softest ground is in the flowerbed.

Anyway, the last bone they gave me came with strings attached — literally. My human had drilled a hole through the bone and tied it down with one of his old shoestrings. I was intimately familiar the shoestring because the tip was chewed off. (That was during my late-puppy chewing stage.) It took some doing, but I finally got the bone loose, and now it's aging nicely under the marigolds.

Humans! They call us their best friends and then they go out of their way to frustrate us. Oh, well, I'll eventually get my humans trained. Fortunately, they were already housebroken when I moved in.

Editor's Note: Here's a photo of Cricket

                                                               * * *

Never Give a Squirrel an Even Break

By Cricket the Yorkie

I guess y'all heard about me killing a dad-burned squirrel last week. Fell right into my lap, so to speak.

I'd been having run-ins with the things all summer. Sitting up there in the tree cursing me. Oh, yes, extremely bad language. "CHAK, CHAK, CHAK," indeed. Well, there's one less CHAK, CHAK, CHAKER in the world today.

Frankly, I'd just about given up hope of catching one of the critters. Y'see, they don't play fair. They can climb trees and I can't. I'd spot one of the bushy-tailed bleepers on the ground and take off after it like a bullet, but no matter how fast I was (and I'm pretty darn speedy), the squirrel always managed to scoot up a tree and escape me.

But this time it was different. The squirrel came to me.

It was early one morning and I'd just finished breakfast when I heard noise in the back yard.


I hit the doggie door fast, prepared to take on whatever danger awaited and there, up in the tree, were two squirrels playing one of their devilish games. A big one was chasing a smaller one. Around and around, up and down they went. Well, naturally I planted myself under the tree and was giving them a piece of my mind when the smaller squirrel missed a limb and — MY GAWD! — came crashing down right on top of me.

Surprised is hardly the word for how I felt, but my Yorkie instincts kicked in and I went for the jugular. The squirrel put up quite a battle but I just about had it killed when my people came running out the back door to see what the fuss was about.

I backed off so that they could admire my work, and my mistress snatched me up before I could wade back in to deliver the coup de grace. Bob dispatched the varmint with a Boy Scout ax.

Oh, well, I guess it was only fair to let him have a little fun, too.

                                                               * * *

Everybody's gotta have a hobby

By Cricket the Yorkie

I've grown quite fond of the chew prevention aid that Bob sprays on the carpet in his computer room. It has a mild puckery taste that lends a subtle but distinct enhancement to the flavor of the carpet threads.

Why, you ask, would I be eating carpet threads? That's EXACTLY what my humans have inquired of me on numerous occasions in a not-so-civil manner. Well, first of all, I'm not actually eating them. I'm simply pulling them up, giving them a brief chew and spitting them out.

And it's not as though I'm destroying the carpet. I'm very selective and only pull up a few threads at a time, sometimes limiting myself to a single strand. Also, I make sure that I don't get in anyone's way when I pursue my little hobby. I NEVER do it when humans are around.

Bob once set up his game camera in the computer room when he and the missus left the house. Sure enough, they caught me in the act, but it wasn't a very good picture. My eyes looked all glary. The first chance I got, I tore that picture into a million tiny bits.

Oh, I've been reprimanded — nay, even threatened with physical violence — when they come home and discover evidence of another of my stealthy forays. But I always play innocent, looking up at them with my best Bette Davis eyes. After a while the storm passes and we're a happy little family again.

But my humans continue to ask me why I pull up carpet threads, but only in the computer room. Of course I don't answer, but I have a very good reason.

Why do YOU think I do it?

                                                             * * *

My Encounter with a monster bird

By Cricket the Yorkie

Holy galloping alley cats!

It was the biggest bird I've every seen in my life. We have sparrows and mockingbirds in our back yard and our neighbor keeps a parakeet, but this critter was from outer space.

I was taking my people for a walk this afternoon at Bailey Lake in Burleson and I was off my leash. Like any good carnivore, I was coursing around looking for rabbits or other prey when I jumped this feathered monstrosity.

It was big and ugly — gray with beady eyes and a long doodad dangling from its beak. I looked at it, and it looked at me. Obviously it recognized my fierce streak (you remember me telling you about killing that squirrel, don't you?) and took off with me on its heels.

That thing was fast and pulling away. However, I figured that since I've got four legs and the critter only had two that I would eventually wear it down. A good plan, but a fence intervened. It was a 6-foot chain-link fence but the bird sprouted wings, gave a couple of flaps and was over and gone, leaving me panting on the near side.

My people called the thing a "wild turkey." I'm familiar with the term since I've heard Bob speak of it while rattling ice cubes in a glass, but I don't think there's a connection. Anyway, the next time we run into that thing at the park I'm going to be ready and be on it in a flash before it has a chance to run.

                                                               * * *

Cricket the Killer Yorkie Strikes again

By Cricket the Yorkie

I killed a rabbit yesterday.

True, it wasn't trophy size — but it was a rabbit and I'll proudly add it to my list of gladiatorial accomplishments. You recall that I previously dispatched one of those despicable back-yard squirrels and later almost nabbed a wild turkey during a walk in the park.

This incident also occurred in the park while I was walking my humans. (They need their exercise and I try to get them out there every afternoon.) Anyway, we were strolling along with me way in the lead as usual and them straggling behind. Suddenly, with my powerful sense of smell I caught the whiff of something and snapped to doggie attention.

What was it? We were in fairly tall grass and I couldn't make visual contact. (Darn 6-inch legs!) It smelled faintly of squirrel — but not quite hardly. Definitely wasn't a turkey. Then all heck broke loose. I was in a pack of the monsters. Zip! One of the things ran right past me. I grabbed for it but was an instant late, and it was gone. The second critter wasn't as lucky. With my lightning reflexes in operation mode, I nabbed it and shook it fiercely until I was sure it was dead.

While I was standing there panting and looking around to see if there were any more of the beasts, my humans arrived at the scene — late for the action as usual. I glanced up expecting their approval, but they seemed upset. Something about baby rabbits and the Easter Bunny.

Here I am, doing my best to protect them from dangerous creatures of the wild and they go squishy on me. Humans! There's just no understanding them.

                                                * * *

Cricket vs. the possum

We were sitting here watching a movie on TV when Cricket let out a yip and dashed outside. When she went into her "I've got this critter treed" bark, we grabbed flashlights and went to see what was going on.

Biggest possum I ever saw, twice as big as Cricket. She did indeed have him treed, or I should say "fenced." He was balanced on top of the pickets and a post of our six-foot privacy fence, just staring down at his small attacker.

Cricket was waking up the neighborhood so we grabbed her and brought her inside, giving Mr. Possum a chance to depart for quieter surroundings.

Ah, it's nice to know that we have some protection from wild animals in this neighborhood.

                                                 * * *

Bath time

I just gave Cricket the Yorkie a bath.

She loves a good bath with the garden hose's pistol nozzle. When I get out the shampoo bottle and drag the hose over to the picnic table, she comes running.

Clouds were gathering today as I lathered her up and hosed her off with the nozzle set on "spray." Body, tail ─ even her head ─ got thoroughly squirted. After giving her a few rubs with a towel, I turned her loose in the yard where she ran around and around and rolled and rolled.

THEN... Then it started to sprinkle. Cricket stopped, looked up, ascertained that it was indeed rain and broke for the house.

She doesn't like to get wet from rain.

                                                         * * *

Cricket the Yorkie's DNA

We've known since adopting Cricket the Yorkie some five years ago that she isn't 100 percent purebred. True, she has the black and gold markings of Yorkies and fits into the upper size limit of the breed at around 15 pounds, but something about her just doesn't ring the AKC bell.

For one thing, Cricket isn't a barker, and Yorkies are infamous for their yapping. It wasn't until she met her first cat that we knew she wasn't vocally impaired. Oh, there are other things — the tilt of her head, the way she runs in short dashes. Definitely not Yorkie like.

Then, earlier in the summer, we noticed Cricket picking up pecans that the squirrels had brought into the back yard. We didn't think much about that though because we once had a dog — Sissy by name — who loved to eat pecans so much that she would crack them to get to the meat inside. However, Cricket wasn't eating the pecans; she was burying them. Oh well, we thought, maybe she's an environmentalist and just doing her part for Mother Nature.

But now she's carrying the habit a bit too far. We have three giant 30-year-old oak trees in our yard, and in the fall they turn to acorns. Big acorns, little acorns, middle-sized acorns... Thousands and thousands of acorns, and Cricket is trying to bury each and every one of them.

But we finally figured out the reason for this strange uncanine compulsion and at the same time solved the mystery of Cricket's lineage. Yes, dear friends, Cricket is part squirrel.


The Spotted American Basil Schnauzer

Before Cricket the Yorkie, there was Sissy the Spotted American Basil Schnauzer. Unlike Cricket, our current pet that's 92.7 percent Yorkie, old Sissy was a Heinz 57 mixture, white with big black spots and of obvious terrier ancestry. But rather than being lean and lithe like most dogs of that breed, her 20 pounds were packed onto a decidedly chunky frame with legs that reflected a trace of — dare I say it? — Dachshund heritage.

Still, Sissy carried herself with such aplomb that people thought she must be of some exotic extraction. Understandably, they couldn't quite put a handle on it and would ask, "What kind of dog is she?" So we made up a genre: Spotted American Basil Schnauzer. "Oh, yes," they would say. "I've heard of that breed."

The Sissy era began when my son saw a note advertising free puppies on a community bulletin board in Irving. Being dogless after our previous pet failed to survive a heartworm attack, my wife and son went to check out the litter. Most of the pups were gone, but Sissy and one other remained. She was the smaller of the two but had a way about her. Cocky, you might say. She was named "Sissy" not because she was one, but in the sense of being a sibling sister.

True, an independent sort, but — like most dogs — thunderstorms terrified her. And with good reason. Her first storm was almost her last. While Sissy was still a pup, a summer storm was ushered through town by much thunder and lightning. Sissy decided to get away from the monster and dashed out the back door.

Rain and hail the size of ping-pong balls were pounding the yard and Sissy cowered against a fence, desperately in need of help. The only thing I saw handy to protect me on a rescue mission was a galvanized metal garbage can. Holding it over my head, I dashed into the yard and grabbed the pup before she was battered to death. (Ladies and gentlemen, you don't know what noise is until you have your head inside a metal can during a hailstorm.)

Sissy quickly recovered from the experience and made the move with us to Burleson. Here she found the big backyard to her liking and appropriated it as her own. Beware, interlopers. Cats, possums, humans — whatever — were not welcome unless invited. There was the time a German shepherd that had learned to scale stockade fences unexpectedly dropped into her domain. Sissy was on him in a flash, barking fiercely. The big dog turned tail and reascended the fence with Sissy nipping at his posterior. The intruder banished, she turned and trotted over to us with a look that said, "What a good girl I am."

Sissy loved taking walks in the Burleson city park. At that time, you could take the leash off and let your dog run free to chase birds and, if lucky, the stray rabbit. Handicapped by her short legs, Sissy never caught anything, but one time she had the opportunity. There in the distance was a group of birds. Off she dashed, only to pull up short when one of the birds didn't go flapping away like the field larks she was used to. She went eyeball to eyeball with a big black crow and decided there were other areas of the park to be explored.

Time passed and Sissy's black muzzle grew white and she was more interested in napping than playing. We got another dog, Pepper by name, a rambunctious young rat terrier. Sissy had always gotten along well with other dogs she met in the park. Her method was simple and effective: She ignored the heck out of them. No growling or barking. She just stood there until the other mutt got through with the sniffing routine and went on his way. Not so with Pepper.

One day while I was at work, my wife took the two on a walk in the park. There they encountered two stray dogs. As usual, Sissy stood still and didn't agitate the pair. Not so with Pepper. She growled at them and they attacked her. Sissy jumped into the one-sided fight while Pepper ran off to watch from a safe distance. My wife says it was a fierce encounter, teeth snapping and blood flowing. Sissy gave a good account of herself, but it was two on one and she received wounds that required a vet's attention.

Sissy got over her hurts, but she couldn't recover from old age. A few months later at the grand old age of 16, our Spotted American Basil Schnauzer crossed over the Rainbow Bridge.