The Name Game
Our waitress last week pulled out photos of her two doggies.
This has become a common occurrence. If you want to connect, just mention that you have a dog.
Anyway, she popped out her phone from somewhere beneath her apron and said, “Here’s Brian Jonathan and this one is Buddy Michael.”
I have committed a terrible injustice to my puppy!
He has NO middle name!
Ages ago, I had a friend with no middle name who told me she really hated filling in forms that required a middle initial. “I am going through life as Susan NMI Smith,” she complained.
Well, I can’t stigmatize Theo that way. I can’t let him hang his head in shame when he has to leave a blank space on his insurance form.
He needs a middle name.
My husband says this is unnecessary. But I tell him, “Just think about this: We can’t get the dog to listen. Maybe it’s because he has no middle name to use – to let him know he is REALLY in trouble.”
And I am sure you are all nodding vigorously in agreement. The use of your middle name by a parent quickly told you how much trouble you were in, and how quickly you needed to stop what you happened to be doing.
So now we have to choose an appropriate middle name for Theo Roman. I’m sure as soon as we do, he will stop flunking out of obedience school.
As soon as I thought, Appropriate, of course the first name that came to mind was Lucifer. But even though it is certainly fitting, perhaps we don’t want it to be a self-fulfilling prophecy either.
How about something Theo is good at? Where does he excel? But again, Theo Humper Roman may not be the behavior we should encourage.
My husband suggested “Garbage Can.” And it’s true that he is very good at leftovers, but we need something with just a little more class.
My favorite dog of recent literature is Enzo, from THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN. I was completely besotted with the total civilized dogness of Enzo. And so, I considered naming our puppy Enzo. Theo is a Lagotto Romagnolo, after all, and an Italian name for an Italian dog would be cool. But I had reasons to choose Theo, reasons that my husband loved.
Theo the Cat was part of our family when we first got married. A feisty black cat who was named Althea by some college kids who didn’t realize they had a boy. When they figured it out, they just called him Al. Which makes me think of the Paul Simon song, which I adore, but we had a good friend named Al. Al probably would have liked having a cat named after him, but just in case, we renamed the cat Theo when he was handed over to us. Theo had grown up holding his own against seagulls, and that is no small feat for a kitten. He had Courage with a capital C. At our home, it was the neighbor’s geese that Theo had to manage. And he was an excellent goose-herder. When it came to the numerous stray cats (and even dogs) in the vicinity, however, his abundance of courage was often misplaced, and usually took precedence over his actual fighting skills. He made more trips to the vet than I and my wallet would have thought possible. During one of his many skirmishes, it appears he became infected with one of the terrible cat viruses. His tough little life was short.
So my husband and I both liked the idea of having a Theo the Dog named after Theo the Cat.
Since we went the namesake route, maybe that would be a good idea for his middle name too.
The cat who shared our house with Theo the Cat was Casper. Casper was the best, craziest cat I have ever known. But he was certifiably OCD, and although that is perfectly acceptable – maybe even the norm – in a cat, I think in a dog that would perhaps be unbearable.
I had a dog, Sarge, as a teenager and young adult. And he was a great and sweet companion. But I’d like a two-syllable name, like Nancy Ellen Roman….Nan-cy-Ell-en-Rom-an. It has good flow.
After Theo the Cat died and Casper was inconsolable, I went to the shelter and brought home Merlin. Merlin was around two at the time we adopted him, and had spent nearly a year in the shelter. He was delighted to be part of our family, and stuck around another 19 years. Merlin was both happy and cranky, curious and lazy. He took his place as Alpha cat and kept it even when he was so old he could barely stand up. No other animal ever challenged Merlin. But to me, the name Merlin is somehow distinctly feline. It would be unfortunate to put Theo in a position where he might be teased by the other dogs.
When Theo and his siblings were born, the breeder had given them tentative names – because the puppies were evaluated as to disposition and energy levels in order to make the best placements with the right families. Theo had been penciled in as Carlo. Not a bad name at all. But I don’t like the rhyme-iness of a Theo-Carlo paring. (The same goes for Theo Enzo… too many Os.)
It is not much of a jump to go from Carlo to Carlos. Carlos is the little dog in my own novel, JUST WHAT I ALWAYS WANTED. He’s a mono-visioned, bald-in-spots, nervous little guy. He is my own creation. I didn’t model him after any dog I knew or read about. I made him up. I imagined him and gave him a story. And how cool is it that I can actually give him a real life, after a fashion, by letting Theo share his name? Sure, there is a bit of an ethnic discrepancy, but it only makes Theo a bit more exotic.
Theo Carlos Roman.
I can put it to use right away.
Theo Carlos Roman, put down that slipper!
Theo Carlos Roman, get off the bed!
Theo Carlos Roman, you cannot bury your bone in the potted plant!