Mr. Cricket

Fri, 02/18/2022 - 6:15am

Life can take care of things if we let it; we need to simply get out of the way and let it do what it’s going to do. When we get older we finally figure this stuff out because we’ve all learned through our life’s experience that if we set up an expectation and things don’t go as we planned, then we’ll end up being disappointed. We all figure this truth out one way or the other. (It’s really not that keen of an observation, but it’ll do for this piece of writing.) In a recent column titled “Godspeed, Sailor,” I’d mentioned near the end of the piece that my wife and I would grieve and accept Sailor’s loss. Furthermore we also knew that another dog would be in our future. We’re dog people and this is what happens to many dog people—they get another dog. After Sailor moved along Cindy and I were both on the
lookout for a dog that we wanted and needed, and one who needed and wanted us.
Subsequently, the hunt was now on; however, we weren’t trying to find a new dog but we certainly were open for possibilities and were paying attention. We both knew that it would be a fool’s errand to force a thing like finding a dog because life isn’t that compartmentalized. Actually, it’s been our belief that dogs actually find us so we were simply putting our heads together to move forward. Right from the rip, we came to a very important conclusion regarding the size dog we’d like to have. A full-size retriever was out of the question because of our age. We’d recently been dog-sitting a friend’s golden retriever for a couple of weeks after Sailor passed, and were prodigiously schooled by said retriever regarding our physical limitations. We loved Frankie the Golden, but we also knew that we were outgunned in having a dog of this size. Moreover, we’d been down the terrier road for many years and agreed that although we love the breed, that it may serve us to look at different types of smaller dogs because ahem, we knew too much about Scottish terriers. They can work you pretty hard without even trying. Just sayin’. We got a kick out of Sailor-the-cockapoo’s vibe and intelligence and that helped us as we were narrowing down a possible new family member. Poodles are very
bright dogs and I guess that’s why they were crossbred beginning back in the early ‘80s. Given all of this canine awareness, and knowing my wife and I can be relentless in getting what we want and need, the hunt proceeded in a subtle and measured way.

People who know me from the ferry shack, who own dogs, know that I was on a quest to find solid intel about the dogs in their cars - they know who they are - especially if they had poodle mixes in the back or front seat. One day island chefs Denny Gomes and Erika Monat got jammed up with their car at the ferry dock and I helped get them squared away with a mechanic so they didn’t miss the boat. Moreover, these folks have two dogs that really got my attention. They have a cockapoo and a cavapoo and I got good information from them. Of course I rushed home after work and told the bride about what I learned. I’d also met a random cavapoo walker while e-biking down in Charlestown about a month ago. I was stacking serious intel while Cindy was focused on Frankie the Golden Retriever.
Then, things got interesting.
About three weeks ago a friend who is a veterinarian and I were having a talk about: dog breeds, adoption, early spaying, neutering, dog size, temperament, and crossbreeds. Doctor Liz Hassinger is a direct sort and it was easy for me to defer to her knowledge of dogs. She’s a pro. She made a suggestion, “A miniature poodle would be a great dog for you and Cindy. They can live 20 years, and are easy dogs to care for, they’re great pets.” I was literally taking notes while the Doctor Liz spoke. Ironically, a few days before at the ferry dock, I saw Block Island’s Russ Littlefield’s dog and thought it was a cool little character.
“Hey Russ, cute dog ya got there,” I said.
“Here, say hi,” said Russ as his dog nearly jumped out the truck window and into my arms.
“What kind of dog is this, Russ?” I asked.
“A miniature poodle,” he said.
“Great little dog, he reminds me of Sailor,” I said.
After that ferry left I scooted home and told the bride about Russ’s guy, too. Then, things got really interesting.

Less than 24 hours after the aforementioned column about Sailor ran in the paper, it garnered close to six hundred hits. I told my wife, “Sailor’s story is getting lots of play, I’m telling ya, I bet he finds us a dog.” I really believed what I said; Cindy perhaps wanted to believe it. Sailor’s column kept getting hits and I did some sim-
ple math and exponentially, more and more people were finding out about how the McDonald-Houlihan’s might be looking for a dog. Literally 22 hours after I spoke to Doctor Liz about a particular kind of dog, my phone beeped. I’d just checked in the first car for the 6:30 ferry when I opened and read a text from a friend from my youth who also knows us from Galilee. She has a summer place here. The text read, “Joey, I’m so sorry about Sailor, I read your story about him, and I know of a couple who need to let go of their dog for lifestyle reasons. Let me know if you want more information.” I told my friend to call me ASAP. The phone rang, and I immediately asked Kathy what kind of dog it was.
“It’s a miniature poodle named Cricket. He’s a very lively ten-year-old,” she said.

“Please send me a picture!” I said. (I was gobsmacked.)
Kathy did and I sent the picture right to my wife. Things accelerated very quickly from that point on and I contacted the dog’s owner. After speaking with him I also sent along my column about Sailor and I think that perhaps the couple thought we could give their boyo Cricket a good home. Finally, five days later, after Sailor became the nexus for finding us a new dog - because we just let life do what it’s going to do - my neighbor Steve Hull and I drove to Plymouth, Massachusetts to pick up Cricket and brought him to his new home in Galilee. “Nuff said.