The Naming of Things

As an avid reader, a writer, a traveler and a bonafide Geek, I have always been intrigued by the naming of things. I ponder the various connections between the person, place or thing and its given name. How do they relate? After all, some of us sentimental humans can be downright prosaic when naming our children. Garth Brooks named his daughter “Taylor Maine” after James Taylor (a favorite of his  – and why not? Sweet Baby James is quite a force) and the state of Maine where she had been conceived. Kinda cool in this case, the same scenario may have been sad had she been conceived in, say Saskatoon – really fun to say, but perhaps challenging at best on the school yard.
And then there are street names or odonyms (seriously, there’s a name for street names and it’s probably an SAT favorite). Some areas are themed, while others could be named for a child of the folks who first owned the land where the street was first given signage. There are streets named by or for town legends, such as Flaming Lips Boulevard in Oklahoma City. I know I am not alone in my fascination because there’s a Wikipedia article about street names.
My point is, naming the dogs was a big deal to me. Kerry named Mike because he “looks like a Mike” and I had no argument for that – well, no appealing argument. But Mike stuck rather easily to the big-eyed, restless fella and soon he’s Big Mike and Mikey, as well. Perhaps the litmus of suitable naming is the comfortable application of nicknames.
Molly was equally easy once we got her home. When I’d first met her at the shelter, another volunteer and I had shared the same thought (an eery psychic moment): Penelope. I like that name, but it’s not conducive to dog training. Penny would have been sweet and short enough, but she’s a sleek black Border Collie and I thought of shiny copper penny, so no go. We have Bailey and Mick: fine, Irish-inspired names for our family dogs of Belgian and Congolese origin respectively. Molly fit the family tradition and, in Ireland, on our honeymoon, Kerry and I had been enticed to play fetch (with a rock!) by a gorgeous, whipsmart BC on the Island of Inisheer/Inis Oirr.
Where the politicking and staking of claims got intense was over the naming of Duke. He was Rex, Jake, Hondo, Othello, Butch, Buster, Mulder (sorry, Sara), Ace, Rocky, Spike and a handful of other names over the course of two days. I preferred Rex (an homage to my very first dog, King, a stunning Samoyed Husky), but Lily (the 8-year-old) and Kerry liked Duke. So, in my mind, Duke is John Wayne in The Quiet Man, a dog who doesn’t want to fight and just wants to go home.


1 Comment

Filed under Diary Entry, Uncategorized

One response to “The Naming of Things

  1. Kerry Root

    I know I am a bit (ok more than just a bit) prejudiced, but I really like your blog a lot. Well done!