A DOG BY
ANY OTHER NAME
Our puppy was looking a little smug the other day, so just to
show her who was boss, we changed her name.
Now some may say this was cruel, that a six-month old dog
could develop a severe identity crisis by suddenly being called by a new
name. But considering that our dog never once answered to her old name, we
didnít think that would be a problem.
Our dog is a little all-black pug, which we got to replace a
kid who went off to college. We expected a little more obedience out of
the dog than we had with the kid, but so far the kid is looking better and
There was originally much discussion over what to name the
new addition to the family, and we finally settled on "Boop,"
since she resembled the cartoon character "Betty Boop." Everyone
in the family thought that was a clever little name except, apparently,
The first indication that the name might be a problem
was when my wife, determined to do things right, trudged Boop off to puppy
school for six rigorous nights of training. Our check must have cleared,
because despite learning absolutely nothing, on the last day of class my
wife dragged Boop up to the front where the instructor reluctantly handed
out a handsome graduation diploma.
We were going to frame it, until we noticed the name on the
diploma was "Poop."
She had obviously made quite an impression on the instructor.
Nevertheless, we stuck with the name "Boop," emphasizing the
"B" when people asked, and patiently explaining why we had
chosen such a stupid name.
Meanwhile, Boop continued to ignore us when we called
her name. Iíd yell "Come here, come on, good girl, come on, come onÖ.."
and she might consider moving towards me, but then Iíd add, "Come
on, Boop," and that was it. Sheíd go into her cat routine, and look
the other way.
"You couldnít," I could hear her think, "be
talking to me."
Now some might say, including me, that sheís not a very
bright dog. Some might say, including me, that sheís incredibly stupid.
But some, including me, might be wrong. She might just have an identity
crisis, hating her name.
I didnít give this theory much thought until my wife gave
me an example one day. Boop was spread out on the floor, snoring, and from
across the room my wife yelled "Food." Boop was up and at my
wifeís feet within seconds, where she was given her dinner.
"Youíre right," I admitted. "She does have a
brain. But if people think Boop is a dumb name, how are we going to
explain calling her "Food."
"Iím not suggesting we change her name to
"Food," my wife replied. "Iím only showing you that sheís
not as dumb as you think."
Happy to see a reaction, the kids and I lobbied for calling
her "Food," but my wife would have none of it. We finally
admitted that Boop was of sufficient intelligence that upon the 4000th
time we called "Food" and no dinner was forthcoming, she might
go back to her cat-like ways.
But we also decided a new name was necessary. The kids
suggested "Treat" or "Walk," both of which Boop seemed
to show interest in, but they were vetoed by my wife, who had suddenly
become an expert on dog psychology.
In the end, we settled on "Lucy." We were told by a
professional dog trainer that dogs responded better to two-syllable names
than one-syllable names. Of course, she also told us how to keep Boop/Lucy
from having "accidents" in the house, and that didnít work.
After my wife nixed Foody, Walky and Treaty, everyone
agreed to try Lucy. Itís been about a month now, and I am happy to
report that Lucy has made considerable progress.
She still wonít come when called, unless thereís
food or a walk involved. But while I once thought Boop was the dumbest dog
of all time, Iím beginning to believe Lucy may be the smartest.
Itís all in the name.