Friday, July 17, 2015

A puppy by any other name

We have done our best.  And yet.

Believe me; we are as surprised as you might be if you could see our deck – Dewey’s hangout.  It looks like a hillbilly’s front yard! 

A quick survey of the surroundings includes sundry items, chewed nearly, but not quite, into oblivion:  rebar, boat dock bumpers (small and very large), sticks from twigs to tree branches, rocks and concrete chips, loquat pits, rags – that is, a shredded T-shirt and what was formerly known as a hand towel – two crimped water bottles and a pistol-grip hose nozzle entangled with plant matter.  

A cluster of gnats now dizzies around the door.

A chair cushion has been repurposed as an attack dog training dummy.  Thrashed into submission, it lies in crumpled defeat near the gate.  The fleece doggie bed?  Relocated to his secret stash under the potting shed with his actual doggie chew toys – untouched – along with other items of little interest to his pure puppy brain. 

This back-woodsy scene lacks only bent aluminum lawn chairs with frayed nylon webbing, spent beer cans, crushed cigarettes and a still.

We owe it all to Dewey.

He’s four months old now – four and a half – all legs.  And feet.  And joie de’vivre.  It’s early to be making pronouncements.  I know.  But yeesh!

Maybe his name is having undue influence on his personality.  “Dewey” rose to the top of the list of possible puppy names, for two reasons:  First, we liked it.  The sound of it.  The fact that we didn’t know any other dogs named Dewey.  (Even though we loved Beau, we had to acknowledge that he was one among a legion of Beaus – all good dogs, for sure, but undistinguished by appellation.)

Second, the name “Dewey” met the requirement for having a strong, plosive first letter.  Soon enough, Dewey will be a working dog, earning his kibble in the duck blinds.  Such employment demands a name beginning with a burst of air that the beast will recognize and obey quickly.  Or so says Mr. Plath.  

That’s why we renamed our first Labrador retriever, Snooky.  We adopted him from a single mom with two unhealthy waif-like children.  She said her kids had developed allergies to Snooky.  Looking at their translucent skin and dark-rimmed eyes, it seemed plausible.  And, as we came to learn, he shed approximately one bushel basket of dander-laden hair daily.

At any rate, she advertised him for sale and we brought him home when he was 18 months old but not yet housetrained.  Maybe they were all allergic to dog pee. 

But I digress.  The point here is that we renamed him.  Mr. Plath could not envision himself hollering “Snooky!” when other hunters were calling out to Duke or Buddy or Butch.  Not enough machismo.  Or, no first letter burst.  However you choose to see it.

So Snooky became Ted, a wonderful field dog and stellar family companion summoned with near-perfect plosivity.

Could be that our mistake was in naming Dewey before we met him.  We couldn’t wait.  We aren’t those flower child parents who get to know their kids for days on end before they attach a moniker.  We didn’t take time to assess his essence and name him according to his spirit.  If we had, we might have called him Conan.  Or Pigpen.

We didn’t consult the What-to-Name-Your-Puppy books.

But let’s pretend we did.  Blogthings in retrospect, says of people and dogs named “Dewey”:  You are balanced, orderly and organized.  You like your ducks in a row. 

See?  Ducks in a row?!  We would have thought Dewey was the perfect name for our little fella.    

And here – You are friendly, charming, and warm.  So very true!  And to give him full credit, he pees outside and on demand.  He has a soft mouth.  Weeks ago he quit slicing us up like the chef at Benihana!  My wounds have all healed and only one left a mark.  He didn’t mean it. 

You are very charming... dangerously so.  Yes.  That little cock of your head and we forgive our injuries and the wasteland you have created in our formerly genteel yard. 

And finally, you are unpredictable, adventurous, and always a little surprising.
Surprising how interacting with you makes everything so sweet.  Dewey!