The Naming of Dogs
Whatever it is, someone musta' taken one too many rim shots to the head before writin' this column.
"Whatever happened to good old-fashioned dog names—names that weren't people names? For centuries, giving your favorite canine a human title was totally unheard of.
"Consider this list of hunting hound names translated from a Greek manuscript centuries old: Lance, Sentinel, Ecstasy, Blueskin, Crafty, Hasty, Vigorous, Impetus, Counsellor, Bustler (dog) and Hasty. The writer says, "The names are significant of the color, strength, spirit, sagacity or behavior of the hounds."
Huh. I see at least three "human" titles in that list if ya' count the nickname. Guess he's just been hangin' out with too many Joes and Dans and Bills. 'Course he really shouldn't be pickin' on dog names—I mean what kinda' name is Eli for a quarterback?
"Another ancient list of dog names contains some monickers that are even more interesting and unforgettable: "Black-foot, Trail-follower, Voracious, Gazelle, Mountain-ranger, Fawn-killer, Hurricane, Hunter, Seizer, Catcher, Runner, Gnasher, Spot, Tigress, Might, White, Soot, Spartan, Whirlwind, Swift, Cyprian, Wolf, Grasper, Black, Shag, Fury, White-tooth, Barker, Black-hair, Beast-killer, Mountaineer." Not a human name in the mix, but we do get one of the earliest mentions of another name now gone by the wayside: Spot. Yes, plain old Spot."
Unforgettable? Let's see…
On Gnasher, on Grasper, on Seizer and Catcher,
On Hunter on Hurricane, on Whirlwind and—Spot?
"William Shakespeare mentioned dogs in several of his works, and none of the names he used are reminiscent of human titles. In "The Taming of the Shrew" we find Clowder, Merriman, Silver, Echo and Belman. "The Tempest" dogs were Mountain, Silver (again), Fury and Tyrant. And in "The Two Gentlemen of Verona," we find Proteus' servant Launce dragging his cruel-hearted and infamous dog Crab, who he complains is the surliest dog that ever lived."
He forgot all about Lady MacBeth's dog that she never could housebreak.
"In more recent history, we find a prevalence of "real" dog names as well. Consider the frontiersman Davy Crockett whose hunting dogs were Old Rattler, Soundwell and Tiger. George Washington, our first president and an avid hunter, kept a pack of fox hounds, and there wasn't a Max or Molly in the bunch. His canine companions included Mopsey, Pilot, Tartar, Jupiter, Trueman, Tipler, Truelove, Juno, Dutchess, Ragman, Countess, Lady, Searcher, Rover, Sweetlips, Vulcan, Singer, Must, Tiyal and Forrester.
Okay, that's just a bit tooooo much information there. I don't wanna' know what prompted the "Father of Our Country" to name his dog Sweetlips.
T.S. Eliot almost got it right:
"The Naming of Dogs is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a dog must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
First of all, there's the name that the family use daily,
Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James,
Such as Victor or Jonathan, or George or Bill Bailey -
All of them sensible everyday names."
[That's supposed to be…~AHM]
[If you wanna' wear those new shoes you just bought—don't say it!~Harrison]
The real irony of this whole dog-earred tale is the name of the writer…
Keith "Catfish" Sutton
posted by Harrison at 11:15 PM