Naming the Animals: Everyday Magic, Day 516

The old story goes that Eve named the animals, but we know better when it

Natalie with Miyako when she was still a kitten

comes to what we call each species. As for me, I’ve helped name a parade of animals that have come through my home, for better or for worse, and some of these names caused great trouble or its opposite. Here are some of those namings:

  • Pinky Velvet, the cat, was named by Daniel (velvet because of how soft she was — hey, he was 6) and Natalie (pinky because she looked almost pink in a certain light). Bad name, and no wonder she grew up to be an idiot savant and psychopath (she would attack whoever was petting her after cuddling with them, but she could relieve herself in the toilet). Sad to say, the coyotes got her.
  • Nellie-Boy, another cat, found in a carpet store parking lot confused us gender-wise at first, and since the kids were reading Charlotte’s Web, Nellie it was (after one of Charlotte’s baby spiders). Gender-confusing names can lead to a world of trouble, as can moving to the country just when he entered cat puberty. He turned feral, and bad things happened.
  • Shelby Chocolate Pudding Dog ran away, but such is the way with anyone named after a dessert.
  • Judith A. (for Action-ia) Hunter, our cat, suffers from PTSD (because of an incident with Pinky Velvet), but she did serve on the board of a non-profit once, all in the name of giving other species more rights.
  • Mariah Lily Karumba Lassman, our labmation, is alive and well at age 14, but when the radio plays, “And they called the wind Mariah,” she tilts her head in approval.
  • Saulina Goldberg, a cat, seemed like Saul to us until we took her to a vet who declared, “This here is a pussy cat!” Saul became Saulina, and at that moment, stopped staring angrily at me from just under the sofa and became as affectionate as she was intelligent (and she was a genius). She lived to 20 years, and we miss her dearly.
  • Lou Lassman, a cat, was a big, loveable tabby who, despite attacking small children when he was younger, came to love the babies we brought home from the birthing center. He died around age 8, most likely from injuries from his secret life (he would regularly disappear for days, and return home in primo condition, which made us wonder if he had a second family).
  • Shay, our new dog, a labaraner, is named so because he got used to being called Dwayne at the Humane Society, and we needed a name that had that long a. We tried Wayne, Shane and Blaine but none fit, so Shay it became.
  • Miyako, our sweetheart cat, was named so because it’s Japanese for “beautiful night child” and is also obviously the name of a city in Japan. Her brother Hideki (a name that conjures strength) — who was velcroed to her often — didn’t live up to his name and disappeared in the wilds. Luckily, she’s replaced us for him in her affections.

So what have you named your animals, and what paths did these names lead them through?

Leader of the Pack: Everyday Magic, Day 514

One dog, and you’re a person with a dog. Two dogs, and you’re part of the pack.

I’ve been learning this vividly since Shay moved in with us. Now I have a canine parade tailing me through the house, sitting together with mournfully expectant looks on their faces when I approach the refrigerator (which holds, on top, a box of doggie treats). When I walk toward the front door, go down the stairs, head toward the bathtub or climb into bed, I’m no longer an individual who happens to live with animals, but alpha dog in the sacred and zany pack that lives here.

Having never lived with multiple dogs, it’s a strange sensation to be surrounded by fur and followed by the click-clack staccaco of two big dogs’ nails on wooden floors. Furthermore, as leader of this pack, it falls to me to set the example. No more slipping the old dog food under the table when no one is looking (unless, by miracle, the new dog is far, far away outside for the moment). Much more asking the other members of the pack to sit, stay and come (which they do, amazing me since I could never train my kids accordingly). A lot of throwing squeaky toys and mixing up dog genders (particularly hard when you have one female and one male), cleaning up, hauling bags of dog food and turning my head when one of the dog does something completely disgusting (I’ll spare you the details).

When I leave the house, without a dog or two in tow, I’m just a person, but when I return I find myself deep in the den with the others who will follow me closely downstairs or up, inside or out, so happy to just be running, walking, knocking things over and surging forward as part of the pack. Even at night, especially at night, the pack is tight, dreaming together in our bedroom thanks to one queen-sized bed and two dog beds. They wake and come to me, staring into my sleeping face until I wake too, the reluctant, tired and happy leader of the pack.

We Got a Dog!: Everyday Magic, Day 508

When the Chocolate Labaraner (Weimaraner + Lab) chooses you, who are you to say no? So the day after I finished traveling 39 rings of hell home, I went to the pound with Mariah, our 14-year-old Labmation, for a check-you-out date with the dog who had two weeks ago arrived at our front door. They clicked, and Mariah, who is Ms. Submissive with us, excelled at being the most excellent elder alpha dog. We also had the dog to be formerly known as Dwayne cat-checked, which meant someone paraded him through the cat room to see if he bared his teeth. He didn’t.

My name is Mariah, and I'm happy to have a young male escort

After going through over an hour of pet adoption counseling (seriously! and actually a good thing), we drove the older female Labmation and younger male Labaraner home, debating what to rename him. I was sold on Desi Arnaz, Natalie (by cell phone) wanted Peter, Forest wanted none of these names, Ken wanted Shane, and Daniel and Natalie thought Shane was *insert curseword* stupid. Since it was Ken’s 57th birthday, he got final say, and he suggested Shay, which sounds enough like Dwayne so that the dog formerly known as Dwayne responds to it.

Shay is an energetic guy, and for the first day mostly cialis online free trial stood next to one of us, making purring sounds in between eating and drinking everything in sight. The second day, he got sick as a dog, and a visit to the vet confirmed kennel cough, an ear infection, and as we and our mop, plus multiple towels, soon discovered, a horrific stomach virus all. night. long. The benefit of being so pathetic that the cats came out of hiding to stare at him from high shelves, changing their “evil-monster-come-to-kill-us” assessment to “you-call-this-a-dog?”

My name is Shay (thank god, I'm not called Dwayne)

Whatever the cat’s opinion, I call this a dog, and a lively, handsome, smart dog at that. Within a few hours, he walked to the front door and put his mouth on the door knob when he wanted to go out, and after he figured out that obeying “Sit!” got him a treat, he started running to sit before any of us when we were eating. So I think he’s a genius, but most of all — as he sleeps on his dog bed beside me a few feet from where Mariah sleeps on hers — I know he’s our dog. He looks into our eyes as if he’s always known us, which may well be true.

“Can We Keep Him?” or If You Give a Chocolate Lab a Bagel…..: Everyday Magic, Day 499

I know you’re not supposed to feed dogs bagels, but when the chocolate lab in our car — who showed up this snowy morning on our porch — stared mournfully over my shoulder as I ate my bagel, what could we do? Ken went back into the bagel shop to get one for the dog.

And what a dog: a beautiful teenage boy of a chocolate lab (from what we can tell). He was nose to nose with our black lab, Mariah this morning, each of them on a different side of the screen, fast friends and ready to play. We don’t know where he came from, if he was abandoned or lost, only that he loved us immediately, and when I opened the car door, he bounded in with great happiness.

We figured we’d drop him off at the Humane Society on the way to the airport (I fly to Vermont soon), but the Humane Society was closed until 9, and we needed to leave for KCI before then. So the dog gets a bagel and rides to the airport and back.

It didn’t take long, maybe a minute or so, after meeting this sweetheart puppy for us to start wondering, especially since he’s pretty thin and in need of a bath (which could mean he’s not well-loved)……..what if no one claims him? And since it seems our very old female dog already likes this very young male dog, it might be pretty wonderful to have a set of labs. So we’ll see what happens. Meanwhile, all it took was one text picture to Natalie and Forest riding with the dog and us on his way to school this morning for both of them, and me too, to ask, “Can we keep him?”

Cat in a Book, Dog in a Hat: Everyday Magic, Day 440

It’s cold, it’s raining, and after shlepping about to and fro, all I can say is that there are times to relish animals pictures, and that time is now. So here are two — our cat Miyako in a book (she takes reading seriously), and our dog Mariah in a hat (from Peru actually, her gift for a moment from Ken’s trip). I think they both look fetching, but then again, I do live with them. What can I say? I think they both look fetching, and on a cold, wet night, animals in literature and Peruvian caps just kind of rule.