"You get the dog you need. You don't get the dog you want." ~ Cesar Millan
I love dogs. Always have. And when our sweet old dog Bear passed, I took time to mourn the loss of his gentle soul. He was wonderful - a German Shepherd / Collie mix that was as sweet as they come. Low maintenance and fun-loving, he was much smarter than my daughter would give him credit for. He was missed, no doubt about it. The house was too quiet without him. Slowly, quiet became normal. But after awhile, I started thinking about getting a puppy...
Enter Cricket, an Australian Shepherd / Border Collie mix puppy full of boundless energy. She jumped everywhere she went (thus her name), and was the smartest puppy I'd ever seen. Our first morning together she played fetch like a pro. She slept most of the day, and loved going to bed at 8pm. At one point, I began to believe that someone had replaced my puppy with an old dog. I remember thinking, How amazing is this gonna be?
Of course, it's easy to get caught up in the "Oh, how adorable!" stage and totally forget the "What have you done?!" part of it when they eat your shoes or leave a stinky present in your closet. And having an incredibly smart puppy is no picnic. They find the most creative ways to get into mischief. Cricket earned high marks in this area, so puppy school was soon in order.
Our daughter, Rachel, got a puppy named Aurora a couple of months after we got Cricket, so I thought it would be a great bonding experience for the two pups to go through obedience class together. I imagined Rae's docile doggie and my brilliant pup breezing through the six week course like champs. What ensued, however, was far from what I envisioned the experience to be. Long story short, Cricket was the typical problem child. She barked while the instructor was talking. She wanted to play, not work. She did beautifully at home but acted horribly in class. And the icing on the cake? One evening after being so worked up in class and stuffed full of treats, she threw up in the ring.
To top it all off, it was at that point that Cricket bonded with my husband, Bob. He loved that, simply because the last two dogs we'd had were "my" dogs. Finally, I got to see how it works when the dog loves my spouse but tolerates me.
I was working from home at the time and had little room in my schedule for shenanigans, but Cricket didn't care. Cricket was the Master Shenanigator, stealing my last clean dish towel off the counter, eating jewelry off my nightstand, and getting into all sorts of mischief. Our vet had assured me early on that she has a great personality and I was seeing it in all its glory throughout the day.
Of course, Bob would come home and she was tired. And adorable. And snuggled up with him...
Then one day, Rachel called and suggested that we take the dogs to Minnetrista for a walk. Well, of course I said yes. My favorite place with my favorite daughter and the dogs. That would be delightful! And it was, so it became somewhat of a habit for a while.
One particular Tuesday morning I showed up only to find that Rachel and Aurora weren't coming. So with treats in my pocket, Cricket and I set out to explore Oakhurst Gardens on our own. What happened then was truly magical.
Cricket was fascinated by everything around her, sniffing here and there, jumping up on the stone benches to get a better look at the squirrel that just evaded her along the path. It was then that I began to snap pix of her with my phone. Why not? She was adorable as always, and I fancied her hunting dragons in the Gardens. This got my brain to working, wondering perhaps how I could use this dog that "tolerates" me to tell yet another story set in Elisabeth's Garden.
From there I began to play a bit, and what started as a lark turned into something that would spark my imagination once again. The photos became beautiful works of digital art and it was as if this dog was what I'd needed all along. Cricket is not the dog I wanted: a loyal companion, content to be a couch potato with me in the evenings. Instead she is the dog I needed: an over-the-top personality who challenges me to get out and look at the world through different lenses. A beautiful soul who has touched my own in the most creative way, inspiring me to do the same for others.
Cricket is definitely the dog I need. The artwork we create together makes me ridiculously happy.
Hopefully it'll make others happy too.
Is your dog the one you want or the one you need? Or are they one and the same?