Old Lady Cricket

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The first baby that Hubby and I shared as a couple is no longer a baby. She's actually a bit of an old lady nowadays.
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We picked Cricket from quite a large litter at the Humane Society way back in 1999. Rather, I should say, she picked us. We entered the room and she immediately romped over to Hubby like she knew she was coming with us. She was this slobbery, sweet black puff-ball with a brown face, big paws and no real inkling of a breed.... and we were in love. She was a typical puppy - chewed on everything, picked a favorite spot in front of the tv to pee every day, and completely stole our hearts. I spent nights on the couch waiting for her to be ready to come back inside, threw away quite a few of my favorite garments, and tried not to kill her for making a meal out of the contents of my purse. She eventually got it, but it was a long first year or so ;o)

Cricket has been in the background for all of the major events in our life together. She nipped at my feet while I planned our wedding and finished up my college degree. She was a big part of the reason we chose to buy a house with an acre of land, she cuddled me when I was sad and sick and watched over me as I carried our babies. When we brought the girls and even other pets into our home, she's never shown jealousy. We always made sure to include her, but obviously she has become less and less the center of attention over the years. She's sweet to anyone who comes to our house, always makes sure we know when someone arrives, and has even been a big help in training the new puppy over the past year. She checks on our kids when they're crying or hurt and is always the first to nuzzle me when I'm upset. She is simply the perfect dog.
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Lately, we can really see her age catching up with her. She is about to turn 12 (that's 84 in human years), and she's beginning to worry me a little. Between arthritis and cataracts, she's been having some problems negotiating the three steps up the deck and into the house. Her breathing seems more and more labored while she sleeps and she keeps sitting in front of me, staring me in the eyes like she's trying to tell me something, even though she's been out, fed, watered, treated, petted and no one is bothering her. What could it be? I'm praying that our Cricket has many more years with us. I'm not ready to say good bye just yet - she still has so much more of our life left to share.
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