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I love my dog.
She was a gift for my oldest daughter Elizabeth and the honor of naming the new puppy was left up to her.
Being an 8-year-old little girl, Elizabeth chose “Cupcake.”
Not since my friend Billy Johnson named his three-legged Irish setter “Speedy Gonzales” has an animal had a less appropriate name.
When I got her from an animal shelter nearly nine years ago, she was excitable, sweet, fun, smart and mostly obedient.
Despite these qualities, she always had a difficult streak. She had a tendency to bark uncontrollably when strangers came in the house and she would make that “uhm, uhm, uhm” sound when she would watch you eat a sandwich.
She was never much into tricks.
When she was a puppy, she would chase a ball but once she had it, there was no chance she would give it up without a fight.
She would run after a ball, wait until it came to a stop, grab it in her mouth and then sit down and gnaw on it.
The notion of bringing it back to me appeared to seem beneath her.
For a long time, she was a great family pet.
But over the past four years or so, my cute little Cupcake has changed.
She is no longer the lovable, if not a bit ornery, family dog.
She doesn’t want to play. She just wants to sleep and eat.
Sometimes, she gets mad if you pet her.
She circles the dinner table like a great white looking for a tired swimmer.
The slightest noise inside or outside of our house sends her into a barking fit.
She knows the sound of my van when I pull in the driveway; she starts barking … and barking … and barking … and barking.
Cupcake won’t stop barking until I get downstairs and acknowledge her presence.
And the “accidents.” Oh, the terrible and frequent “accidents.”
My sweet little Jack Russell terrier has become my Jack Russell terrorist.
I don’t think she’s trying to blow up my house, but I’m sure she is trying to destroy my way of life.
We have taken her to the vet but nothing seems to be wrong. There may be some jealousy issues with the 3-year-old around now.
It may just be the effects of old age which is sad.
As I reflect on Cupcake and all the negatives that have cropped up, I must also remember the good times. She has always been there for me with a big lick of love.
When I was at my lowest and I didn’t want the comfort of friends or family, she was there without judgement, without reservation, without condition.
So now that I have to live with the changes in behavior, the constant barking and cleaning up after her, I have to remember that she was there for me.
Now, that she’s nearing the end of her days, I have to be there for her.