What's In a Name?
This is not the face of my dog, Ollie Bubba, but he looks exactly like this. Well, he's older now, not as youthful looking, but who is? I was rereading a blog I did about the names of the pets in my novels. Almost all of my characters have dogs. In my most recent novel there is a little dog named Bob. He belongs to Teddy. Teddy hides Bob because no one else is in favor of dogs in the house. The book has been at the editor for a while and I will probably be getting it back in a few weeks. I had forgotten about Bob, and I would have said there were no pets in the book, but there are, two.
I read through some of the short stories I have written to compile an anthology for publication. I noticed almost all of my protagonists have dogs. There are a few cats sprinkled in them, but mostly dogs. When I visualize a dog, I see my dog, Ollie Bubba. I happen to know he likes his name because we had to have an intervention with him and the pet psychic told me it "tickles" him. Well, there isn't much that tickles Ollie Bubba, so I'm glad he likes his name.
Here's the thing. I have trouble coming up with names, people or pets. I hear names that sound cute to me, but I can't remember them when it comes time to write them into a story. I use google to search and try to narrow down something interesting, but I would like more ideas. Sometimes I rely on obituaries to find names for people. The Galveston Daily News obituaries are the best.
My favorite name so far is the dog in Opal's Story, Biscuit. I visualize him as golden lab, or something big. He belongs to Jimmy Dale Evans, an older man. I picture my father with his dog, P.J. Before P.J., it was Lindy, named for Charles Lindberg. There was Millie, named for Amelia Earhart and Yeager named for Chuck Yeager, all pilots' names. That was the theme. P.J. is the exception; he's a junior, Preston, Jr. My father has been a pilot since he was sixteen years old. He admires pilots and loved to fly, so these dogs names have special meaning to him.
When I adopted Ollie from the "Adopt A Pet" Shelter, his name was written on his kennel. He was two years old, and I assume his first family might have called him something else. The shelter told me he was picked up by the city and delivered to the city shelter and they transferred him to "Adopt A Pet". I liked the name Ollie. He looked like an Ollie, but when we got home and I talked to him aloud, walking around the kitchen, I said things like, "Bubba you want to go to the post office?" or "Come on, Bubba, let's take the trash out." He answered to Bubba. I suppose he would have answered to anything. He was looking at me like I was supposed to know what I was doing. That's when I decided he would be Ollie Bubba, because I never knew what was going to come out of my mouth.
I invented a sad history for Ollie, a history leading him to the confines of the animal shelter. However, Ollie revealed to the pet psychic that my story for him was flawed. He said he was not mistreated or neglected. His previous family had a chihuahua. According to Ollie, he doesn't like chihuahuas. They yap too much - he told the psychic. He wanted me to know that he could open doors. It is true, I have witnessed him open doors. He said he opened the door and left his first family because of the @#% chihuahua. Yes, Ollie curses. I think he picked that up with his first family. He ran away from home. He also relayed to me that he could leave me any time he wanted, but he didn't want to. So I still have Ollie. He's getting older and grumpier, but he's still a character. I thought we would probably bury him at the ranch, but we're moving to the city and Ollie has already made the move. He seems satisfied to tolerate the city cats walking through the backyard. I guess if it bothers him, he'll open the door and leave.