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Article Archive >> Community

Daze of My Life: Anthropomorphic or vice versa

Daze of My Life
Anthropomorphic or vice versa

Have you ever met someone who has the same given name as does one of your pets, past or present, presuming your pets have had human names like Maggie, Eddie, and Bridget--not pet names like Pumpkin, Smokey, Cupid, or Blimp. If you haven't experienced the introduction, let me forewarn you, watch your voice. Your inflection instinctively reverts/projects to the identical tone normal for conversations with your pet.
Furthermore, it's just plain weird; speaking that way to someone who might actually speak back.
I'll never forget the first time I met a man named Gus, who coincidentally had the same name as my first (and still living at the time) dog. When Gus (the man) stuck out his hand to shake, as I had taught my dog, Gus, to do, I have to admit, I started laughing. Since Gus was my first dog (after a deprived childhood living in my mother's house, where dogs definitely were not allowed; nor were muddy shoes, dirty sneakers, snowy boots, sweaty or rain-soaked clothes, (among other parental directives), I had spent countless hours teaching him the basic commands. He had learned them all extremely well. Of course, "shake" was one of them. And as I stood there "shaking" with Gus, the man, all I could think of was how different his "shake" felt than my dog's.
This name thing even extends to people I don't know or who are in the news. I see--or hear--their name, acknowledge that it's identical to one of my pets and start laughing; thinking, wondering if, since this person has the same name (as one of my pets), might he (or she) have some of the same characteristics or traits, too.
As an example; recently I was watching sport's highlights. I heard (saw) that the backup running back for the Baltimore Ravens is named Chester Taylor, who among other descriptions, was said to be pretty quick. Well, Chester is also my rabbit's name so, I was wondering, while watching, not where this player went to college or what his history was in the league but rather, whether he crinkles his nose or moves his top lip up and down like my rabbit, Chester, does.
Crazy, I know but, when you've called an animal a specific name for so many years, it's difficult to change horses in mid stream, if you what I mean.
Years ago, I had a friend/neighbor Tom, whose wife at the time, Gretchen, had the same name as his childhood family's first pet dog, a female dachshund.
Can you imagine? Do you think Tom had any inflection-type command or discipline problems with his wife, Gretchen, inadvertent though it may have been? How could he not? You spend your formative years saying a word, a phrase, etc., a certain way; and like it or not, that's how you're going to say it for the rest of your life (like my Boston accent). Moreover, having a friend or coworker or a significant other, who has the identical name as one of your pets (either living or dead), might not exactly make for strange bedfellows but sometimes the conversations can feel a bit out of context.
But you get through it. It's not that tough. Climbing Mt. Everest is more difficult, as is brain surgery (for both doctor and patient). Still, it has made for some awkward moments, for me. And for those of you who have called or, been called, pet names, especially canine's: Sit! Stay! Shake! Speak! Come! Roll Over! Play Dead! Heel! Good dog! It's nothing personal; it's just peculiar.

Kenneth B. Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.




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