Reasons for Pet Names
Some folks have predictable and easily understood reasons for coming up with a particular pet name. Spot, Fluffy, Itty-Bit, Tiger, Psycho Kitty, Snowball, Blackjack, Smokey, Spazz — we can all pretty much picture the pet in question without ever meeting the little critter.
Other pet names, however, may require a bit more explanation or context. Take Mean Eddie, for example. Mean Eddie was an apparent stray cat that frequented an apartment building within which I once resided. Every day’s encounter with Mean Eddie would reveal yet one more scar, perhaps a bloody tail, a missing chunk of ear. Yet Mean Eddie sauntered with such a confident swagger, it was obvious that his many varied opponents had always fared far worse than he. And Mean Eddie must have also been quite the cat’s meow on a Saturday night, for he had a waddling John-Wayne-ish gait that seemed designed solely to give free sway to his impressive package.
Or how about Deeyogee? Get it? Say it slowly and the light may dawn: D - O - G.
Then, of course there was Tuxedo Tripod — a crisply marked black and white tabby that happened to have been born with only three legs. He was always good at putting on airs, no mean feat when short a limb.
My first family pet was a mongrelized pound puppy, a sort of spaniel/shepherd mix with a fairly long-haired coat of dirty white, punctuated by a lone splotch of sandy brown across his hindquarters. Patch he became, and Patch he remained. The only person Patch ever bit was me — the one most dutifully feeding and watering and playing with him — in a panic-stricken lunge during an overly agitated summer afternoon of intense heat and numerous screaming neighbor kids.
Leonardo Da Vinci, or more commonly, simply Leo, is clearly a cat with artistic ambitions (though years on, we’re still waiting to find out exactly what those ambitions just might be). And Michelangela Amaryllis just happened to be the darling jet-black female that used to love curling up on my drawing table amid paints and markers and sketchpads, amplifying her own body heat with that of a drafting lamp augured directly overhead.
Dulcinea (Dulcie, for brevity) was a Rhodesian Ridgeback hound that, rather than trying to find a Serengeti lion to harass amid the shrubs of a Midwestern suburb, would instead enjoy tilting at windmills along with Don and Sancho.
As an all-round amusement, Dexter Pig had no equal. A feisty gray tabby with the remarkable ability to launch to a dozen feet mid-air from a standing start, he apparently gained his moniker from the neighborhood longhairs in the days of pop/rock groups like Moby Grape, Jefferson Airplane and Strawberry Alarm Clock.
And Miracle is, obviously, a miracle, being one of only six successive litter-mates to enter the world anything but stillborn. No bigger than a pocket comb upon arrival, and fed from an eye-dropper for weeks, he’s now a round-bellied puppy of a cat, snoozing slitty-eyed within arm’s reach, and exuding the occasional contented sigh.
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