What's in a Name

July 14, 2018

When I started writing Birdie & Jude, my dog, Ollie, was declining and eventually had to be put down. Birdie has a terrier in the story, so his name became Ollie and he took on Ollie's grumpy attitude. I had Ollie for more than twelve years. He was adopted when he was two. This picture looks exactly like Ollie would have looked after riding on the beach with his head hanging out the window. His young self would have relished the brush when we got home and rolled over so it could smooth every hair on his head. His older self would have cursed and walked off if he saw the dog brush. Check out my Pinterest Board, Heartbeat at My Feet, for some cute pet pictures. 

 

In the Ember Months, Lucy adopts a dog for her sons after an epiphany following the tragic loss of a friend. Roxy is the symbol for new beginnings, acceptance, and the release of perfection. She's the reason the boys can drape themselves around her, their stepmother, and start the conversations they would have avoided before Roxy.

 

Jimmy Dale Evans was the keeper of the pets in Opal's Story. For a reason none of his siblings could understand, every dog they had followed him with undying loyalty: Biscuit, Tamale, Macon, Jerry Lee Lewis "J.L.", Hailey, Boswell, and Bosco. Jimmy Dale's character reminded me of my father and his history of dogs' names after pilots: Millie (Amelia Earhart), Yeager (Chuck Yeager), and Lindy (Charles Lindburg).

 

Sabine had Augie and Remy. They were both small terriers. Sabine's brother, Billy, adopted Augie for Sabine when he discovered she lost her first dog, Remy. Sabine didn't name Remy. He was a neighbor's dog who was her constant companion and refused to go home. However, she named Augie after the month Billy gave her to her, August. Later, Sabine discovered her mother, Josephine had done the same thing with some of her children, June.

 

Dogs seem to learn their names quickly. However, I think it's more the tone of voice than anything. A pet psychic told me Ollie "was tickled" that I referred to him as Ollie Bubba. She said he liked the fact that people thought it was funny and he didn't mind. The current dog at our house, Savannah, belongs to my son, however she's glued to me when he's not home. I started calling her Kitty Bartholomew because she has the same hairdo. She answers to both names, but she swoons to Kitty. With no access to the pet psychic, I'm not sure how she really feels about it. But I do know she doesn't like home made sweaters. See the look on her face? I think she's upset it makes her look flat-chested. 

 

One of the things I like about writing is first, that I can name all the pets any names I want, and second, that I can kill people. I know, it's a little sick, but it's freeing. I've never killed a pet on purpose, but sometimes, for a touch of the real world and personal growth they have to go. Too often, the humans in their lives cling to them and beg them not to go and they stay longer than they should, unable to get to a more comfortable place. We have them for a limited time and they know better than we do what their purpose is. I do believe there are people who can see into their souls and know what they're thinking, Temple Grandin and Myra Logan.

 

Their names conjure memories of childhood, silly antics and family gatherings. RIP: Ollie Bubba, Boots, Bomber, Gillie, Boogie, Bandit, Mollie . . .

 

 

 

 

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