Friday, 19 June 2015

Mutt's in a Name? The Dog Blog

Mutt’s in a Name?:  The Dog Blog

      As you may have gathered, if you read my blog on a somewhat regular basis, I have a thing for names. They interest me to the point that I keep a list on the fridge of names that I find to be unique or unusual or new-to-me.  With all due respect, I get a lot of them from the obituaries.
Names on the Fridge

     So it’s not a real stretch that I have begun to pay close attention to the dog names in my life.   What I am noticing is that dogs more and more have people names.  Instead of Sport, Rover, Rocky, Lady, Tippy and Skipper---dog names from my distant past, the dogs in my neighbourhood whom I see almost daily have people names.  Brad, Ernie, Haley, Rosie.  Sammy Davis Jr. lives on the next block and you must use his entire name when addressing him.  Astrid Elizabeth Ann is a boxer who lives down the street; her friends call her Astrid.  Charlotte lives around the corner.  My mother’s name was Charlotte.  My middle name is Charlotte.  The new princess’ name is Charlotte.  And so is the West Highland Terrier who lives around the corner.    

Princess Charlotte and her Parents

West Highland Terrier, Charlotte
    Is it because families have fewer kids that they use their favourite names for their pets?  Larry, Elvis, Ellie, Emma, Mabel, Basil, Doug.  My dog Nugget was already named when I adopted her.  Who knows, if she had been nameless, I may have called her Alice Munro or Angela Merkl or Helen Mirren.  She looks more like an Alice than an Angela, I think. 
 Alice Munro
 Angela Merkl
Helen Mirren
Nugget.  Or Alice Munro? 
     When I was a kid, we always had a dog and he (or she) was always called Skipper.  One Skipper would follow another Skipper.  This was mostly due to the fact that my father would not call a dog anything else.  So if anyone in the family got creative and tried to call the new cow dog Blue or Patches or Lassie, that name  would not last more than a week.  Because my father would never change,  in order to avoid a totally confused dog with an identity crisis, the dog's name inevitably reverted to Skipper, as in “Skipper, go get the cows!”  , "Sic ‘em Skipper!” , “Skipper, go lay down!” , “Skipper, get  home.”  That would be the extent of the interaction my father had with the dog.  You see while I’m made of granite, as my family repeatedly tells me, my father was made of cement laced with rebar.  Not exactly warm and fuzzy.  Every animal on the farm had a job; there were no pets.  Skipper’s job was to get the cows to the barn at milking time.  Skipper the First, Skipper the Second, Skipper the Third ---same old job.  You get the picture.  Skippers were never allowed in the house; they slept in the porch and ate table scraps from an old tin pie plate with a hole in the bottom. 
Skipper at Work
     Our Skippers had no dish with their name on it, no poop bags, no leash, no collar, no ramp to get on the bed, no doggy backpack, no stroller, no trips to the vet, no needles, no kangaroo dog food, no dental work, no allergy tests, no flea medicine.  If the dog got into a porcupine, one person held his head down between the tines of a hayfork, and someone else pulled the quills out with a pair of pliers.  If the dog got sick, you stopped feeding him for a while.  If he got really sick, you called the neighbour to come shoot him in the back pasture.  Dogs did merit a grave, however. 
Not Skipper in the Stroller
     Today's dogs are pampered and privileged compared to our Skippers.  And I can’t really say much.  I have a pampered privileged dog who eats kangaroo dog food and wears a coat, boots and a New Brunswick tartan ascot. 
     What's more, I have a pampered privileged cat who is quite sure she deserves the very best of everything, including several high-falutin’ names such as Josie, Josee, Slippy, Ring-Tailed Snorter.  She acts more like an Elizabeth or a Victoria or a Sheba if you ask me.
Slippy and Julia
Slippy in her own Mind
 Until Next Time.............