Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What is your dog’s name?


When, after many years of wanting a dog, my mom finally got a beagle, she named him Henry. My Iowa-born mom had become an Anglophile after all those years of marriage to my dad, and, not having sons, she wanted a strong, beautiful English name. Henry lived up to it. He was succeeded by William, which caused some nervous joking in the early days of my relationship with my husband, Bill. When William died, my parents adopted an older beagle, already named. Now they have Chance. It’s a sharp break from their pattern and goes against my mom’s principle of giving dog’s “real” names, but it’s a sweet name and it fits that affectionate, energetic dog.

When we adopted our stray, our friend, the poet Maurice Manning, urged us to give her a literary name. We over-thought the matter: my husband’s field is 19th-century American literature; mine is 20th-century British; we split the difference and combed great works from a 20th-century American name, settling on Dilsey, the name of the mammy in The Sound and the Fury, for our dog had been abused but still had a great spirit and we hoped that she, like the character in the novel, would endure. Only later did I realize that Maurice’s dogs at the time were the more humbly named Mango and Deke.

As I annotate Mrs. Dalloway, I know I want to write about Clarissa’s dog, Rob and Elizabeth’s dog, Grizzle. Clarissa would prefer Elizabeth fuss over Grizzle than Miss Kilman; Peter Walsh remembers Clarissa ostentatiously hugging it just after Clarissa has revealed her snobbery. I’m guessing Rob is a nod to Walter Scott, but Grizzle is very  much akin with the Woolf family dog names which include Shag and Gurth.

How do you name your dogs?

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hello, Anne! Rachel Disney here. I just adopted a dog and named him Leonard. Need I explain the literary influence behind that decision?

Kathryn said...

Our beloved maltipoo is called Rocky. When I was 3 and my sister was on the way, my parents asked for my input on the baby's name. I said, "If it's a girl let's call her Colleen and if it's a boy he'll be Rocky." Now we have both. ;)

--Kathryn Holland

Cam said...

I've only had 2 dogs in my life. One I named Zeus, at the suggestion of a boy friend, and it seemed to fit. Both boyfriend and dog made my life hell for 6 months. The 2nd dog came with a name: Dizzy Gillespie. My son was 3 at the time and enjoyed telling people that he was named after "the Jazz Magician". We had Diz for 16 years. I always told people that it was a rule in our house that everyone (husband, son, me, dog) had to have a different last name -- and it drove the postman crazy, especially since I would use Diz's name when signing up for things that were sure to end up junk mail.

Ruth Z Deming said...

I never had a dog but when I was a kid I 'adopted' a wandering terrier in my neighborhood and called him Little Fox after his beautiful beaded collar.

Just completed my first novel, which is being read by my teacher, and named one of my young characters Clarissa.

köpek isimleri said...

I call my dog "utremi" the musical notes cuz she likes music :)