My beagle Casey is healthy, spunky and–at 13 1/2–still learning new tricks, like wagging his tail. Yet, today for no apparent reason, I woke up vocalizing a name for my next dog.
Maybe it started a few days ago when I phoned the bike store to see if they could fix my flat tire, which occurred right before my car wouldn’t start.
A voice answered, “Hudson Trail, Scarlet speaking.”
Scarlet! I love that name. But a boy named Scarlet?
When we got Casey, I knew I wanted a boy dog. I had gotten divorced some months earlier and the only testosterone in my life, aside from a couple of friends, were my computer guy and my dentist.
So I searched for a boy dog and a male psychotherapist. Casey came to us when he was seven months old, along with his name. My three daughters and I dawdled so long, trying to agree on what to call him, that he remained Casey.
I don’t recall anyone ever asking how he got his name, but I believe that everyone who meets him is thinking, How unimaginative!
I could not adore this boy more, but it is hard not to project into the future, knowing the likelihood of a day when he is no longer here to race me upstairs at night and to spoon with me after lights out.
So I try out names.
I like the name Brad Pitt for Casey. Will I have to meet the next pup to see if that suits him too? Do our names become part of who we are or do our names help define who we are?
So when I woke up, the first thing I did was turn to Casey and try out this new name on him. “Kreplach, time to get up.”
Kreplach are like Jewish raviolis, doughy and cheesy and yummy when you smother them with butter. It’s that East European kind of food that killed my grandparents.
The gutteral “ch” at the end wouldn’t work well for a dog name, but the association let me to Knish. Casey is anything but a Knish. He is neither round, nor knishy squishy. And he’s way too big. Knish is for a little fluffy pup or maybe for a mini dachshund.
Names are a funny thing; some seem universally great. I always loved the name Chloe for a girl, for example. But after my French then-mother-in-law nixed it for my third daughter, my then-husband nixed it too. It was one of the few times he said no to me.
We got along well, the ex and I. Each did exactly as we pleased. Most of our values were in concert, so there were never arguments about, say, money; he was thrifty, I hated to shop.
Sometimes I wonder if couples like us, who practically never fight (Did he just give in to everything and then feel discontent?), lack enough passion to care what each other does as they swirl around in parallel universes.
More dog names: Alan, Badger, Barky, Barkley (Tom Hanks’s dog in “You’ve Got Mail”), Boswell (the name of my 5th grade best friend’s autograph hound), Chip, Dodger, Dudley, Dilber (nickname for the nickname of my college boyfriend Dizzy, whose last name much to his chagrin was Silberhartz–get it? Dizzy + Silberhartz = Dilber), Spot (only if he has no spots, which brings to mind other ironic names like Fluffy for a beagle), Dibble, Dobie Gillis (anyone remember him?), Velveeta, Mango Chutney (my ex thought this was a good kid’s name). Qwerty, which I once used as my name on Jdate, so that might be weird.
And then there are words whose sounds I find pleasing, such as Webinar, Koala, Gumbo, Hoi polloi, Ilosone (a cough medicine my daughter used to take; I loved saying, “Ilosone time!”) Ziligengsheng (Mandarin for self-reliance), Ukulele (even though this very word knocked me out of the fourth-grade spelling bee).
I was hanging up Casey’s leash the other day and thought about the name Ken, as in Barbie’s boyfriend. Once Casey and I went to the Bark Ball, costumes required, and I dressed as Malibu Barbie and he went as Malibu Ken, wearing a lei.
And then there’s Mister Personality, which my niece once called Casey, not realizing the extent to which this was one of those ironic names.
Names will continue to pop into my head, because there is a deep track for this in my brain.
By the way, I moved on to cognitive therapy from the psychiatrist, whose name was Fred. Hm, how about Fred for Casey’s successor?
What are your favorite-sounding words? I’d love to try them out for my next dog’s name.
LOTS ABOUT MARRIAGE, RELATIONSHIPS AND MORE IN MY NEW MEMOIR . . .
“Readers of all ages will relate to this deeply personal story, told with comical sensibility by a quirky, startlingly honest mother, daughter, ex-wife, and dog lover, who—à la Nora Ephron—will feel like a dear friend. Confessions of a Worrywart: Husbands, Lovers, Mothers, and Others will stay with you long after you finish reading it.” (adapted from Amazon description and culled from Amazon reviews)
The perfect book for worrywarts or anyone who enjoys a “neurotic, hilarious, poignant,” deeply personal story.
See some of my Home Goes Strong articles:
*Tapas and Crostini Recipes (great meal or appetizers for Superbowl and Valentine’s Day)