GIMME SHELTER/Sheryl Hutton
Oh, the names we give our pets.
If the names of my childhood pets are any indication, my mother was either very clever or a wee bit pretentious.
We had the pretty Babette, who was (you guessed it!) a French Poodle (at least, that’s what we were told. In truth, she was a cocoa-coloured mix of small, curly and adorable).
There was the lovely Liebchen, a (did you guess it?) German Shepherd. My sister and I found it embarrassing to say her name out loud (okay, we were teenagers at the time and absolutely everything embarrassed us. Plus, my mother was a stickler about pronunciation so we had to use a German inflection. Tell me that wouldn’t mortify any teenager?). We called her Libby.
When we get to our Great Dane Winifred, I am stymied. Back in the 1970s when Winifred was with us, there was no Internet, so my mother would have relied on books for her research. She may have erred on this one, since my Internet search tells me it’s an old English name meaning “peaceful.” Though, Winnie (as she came to be called) was that.
Not to be outdone by my mother, when I became an adult and could name my own furry family members, I went to the Holy Bible.
There were Boaz and Naomi, male and female Great Danes who were best friends and roommates. When Boaz died, Naomi refused to leave his side. She was never the same girl after that.
There is something epic about Great Danes and I wanted to make it clear in their names. I think I succeeded. However, the next Great Dane in our family was Barney. Oddly enough, he tripped over his feet and was a bit goofy.
Is it possible that our pets grow into their names? Or maybe, as has been suggested by folks over the years, our pet shares their name telepathically while we’re trying to decide. So Barney knew he was a Barney before I knew he was a Barney. You understand, I’m sure.
My husband and I chose the literary Tess (of the D’Urbervilles) for our cat. It was a big name for a little barn cat, but she has carried it well. She’s writing a book, too … I might tell you about that another time.
The pet names that always make me chuckle are people-names, like “Jim.” I mean, we all know someone named Jim and to hear “C’mon, Jim, go get the ball” or “Please, Jim, just poop on the grass,” sounds wrong – and hilarious.
So, when you’re thinking of names for your new family member, keep the following in mind: Pet names, like people names, go in cycles. I understand that Max and Bella are the big ones now. Next year, who knows?
Maybe it’s best to be quiet and listen for the small telepathic voice that whispers: Jim … Jim …
The shelter is once again in desperate need of kitten food. If you can make a donation, please bring it to the shelter at 6025 Chippawa Parkway, or the Adoption Centre at Niagara Square.
Sheryl Hutton is an NFHS volunteer and lover of all critters. Cathy Fugler returns in two weeks.
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