“Ok. I’ve got it. Condoleezza Rice!”
“What? You’re racist for thinking I’m racist!”
“I have black friends!”
“Childhood. High school. College. Facebook. THE WORLD.”
“At least two of my sisters are black.”
“Fair enough. But no Condoleezza Rice.”
“Fine. Janet Reno?”
No, this isn’t a discussion on why white people are weird. (Just read any post ever written on this blog, and swap the titles out for Point A, B, C- Z).This isn’t even a conversation about how one back porch conversation about naming a dog can convince your neighbors you are maybe racist and definitely dumb. This is about a search for puppy love. This is the story of a girl named Dick.
After losing our precious and slightly rabid dog, I yearned for the licky love of another canine child. We settled on a large breed as we have an abundance of yard and need a strong-backed, patient creature to withstand the brutal force of our son. Something told me that the boy’s eye-gauging and pile-driving would be completely lost on a smaller dog. It’s not a Sleeper Hold, Yorkie Poo, it’s toddler hug. I spent much time creeping through pet adoption sites, calling local shelters daily just in case they’d found a Newfoundland on their stoop in the night.
In the midst of this puppy stalking I decided our dog would just so happen to be a boy, and we’d just so happen to call him Richard. I pictured Richard stoically observing the frantic, sophomoric pups of lesser intelligence. He would wear argyle sweaters with elbow patches. Somehow these daydreams always culminated in Richard toting around a messenger bag of fine leather and smoking an ivory pipe brought back from his world travels and driving a restored Beetle and quoting Yeats and probably also retiring from his tenured position as a Harvard professor because he cannot tolerate such imbecilic students. Or Richard would just lick his balls and play fetch and do that weird butt scooting across the carpet and maybe chew some dirty underpants. Oh, Richard.
Finally a stranger from Mississippi returned my requests. While she seemed slightly surprised that I’d tried to adopt the dog within one minute of its being listed on-line, she wasn’t a local. She hadn’t learned of my growing reputation as a crazy cyber dog lady. Before the kind woman could disclose the dog’s name or weight or nationality I told her we’d take it. I’d just need to drive back roads through Mississippi and transact money with an internet stranger to retrieve my new dog daughter. Daughter. Oh, Richard.
In my haste I accidentally adopted a girl dog. Also a girl dog with mostly unknown genetics. (When told that we believed her to be of Newfoundland persuasion, one vet would later respond, “Hmph. Maybe her stepdaddy was part Newfie, but I don’t know, y’all”.) Small details. Small details. I’d just forge ahead in the name of love. I’d call her Richard. People call human kids Apple and Hashtag. What harm is there in a girl named Dick? I’d make her little argyle sweaters purple in my mind’s eye. She’d lick her lady parts in lieu of balls. Same difference.
I tried to explore other options. Unable to bring myself to bestow humiliation upon a real human,this was the perfect opportunity to get a little witty with it. I thought there was some humor in giving a young, playful pup the name of a 78-year-old, cat-lovin’ librarian. Something that just screams “I WORK IN SILENCE, ADD A BROOCH TO MY CARDIGAN WHEN I’M FEELING SASSY, AND AM CONTENT TO KNIT KITTY CARDIGANS AT NIGHT”. I will not list examples here for fear all of you would suddenly have those exact names. My more reasonable half, Tom felt such meager names would not suit such a fine young piece of paw candy.
And here we found ourselves on the back porch. After much studying of the dog’s one blurry website photo, I decided I shall call her Condoleezza H. Rice. Conde for short, I just knew the moniker fit her perfectly. My completely equal-rights reasoning was the dog’s big, silly mouth. What I love about Human Condoleezza is her irony. One might look at her big, gappy grin and think her something of a dufus. But then she’d speak with that funny mouth and you’d be the dufus for she is absolutely something of power and brilliance. It’s her silly face, you see? It’s an optical illusion. I pictured my pup, her floppy, slobbery mouth making you think “Yikes. I bet she’s not great at math” only to discover that Dog Condoleezza can jump obstacle hoops like a boss. She’s so smart she’ll fetch before you even realize you threw the tennis ball, moron. Don’t judge a Condoleezza by her face, would be the moral of the story.
When Condoleezza was poo-pooed I turned to a handy list of other, less-thrilling-yet-decent names for the orphan pooch. Here are a few:
Tina (Turner, Fey, etc.)
Bone Thugs N. Harmony
Ah! The dreaded full circle. I drove with my dad & very large brother (insurance against possible internet murder) on rickety roads through parts of Tennessee and Mississippi and, later, some undisclosed foreign land of trailers with appliances in the front yard. We picked up Miss Richard with little trouble and had the long, long, long ride home to get to know her.
And here is the part where it makes no sense, this system of naming, how we give a newborn thing a title right when it arrives in the world. How do you know Tori or Hashtag or Richard or Apple Inspector will suit this tiny being in years to come? As I rubbed her belly and she chewed my hands I felt both in love and certain that I could not possibly give the girl a name to perfectly match a personality I’d yet to get to know.
The pressure! I went back and forth and upside down as mile markers ticked by. I looked to passenger seat to see a small bundle of fur with a face. BEAR, I thought I’d call her. But then she made this little whiny sound, the prepubescent bark, and she was in no way ferocious enough to hang with such a name. She’s never even been to prison. The whiny bark continued, a little chirp, a little squawk. I pulled into the driveway to meet an anxious husband and son and when asked what her name was panicked, as I figure most of you Apple & Hashtag parents did, shrugged my shoulders and offered “Birdie?”.
We started out seeking a very specific Richard, tried to reconcile the weirdness in a girl Dick, wound up with a mysterious Mississippi mutt & now we love a dog named Bird.
What are your pets’ names?
How’d you settle on the name?