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red-dog-218510-mShe was a dear dog.  They were dear people.  Adopted at 12 years, she was a good fit for their family but there was just one thing: she didn’t respond to her name.  Ever.  They’d had her a month and wasn’t that long enough for her to get used to it?

In theory it might be but I only knew one way to find out what was going on, and that was to ask.

The pound had named her Rachel.

I introduced myself the day before our appointment.  Her picture revealed a slightly stocky, 40-pound, copper-colored dog of no determinate breed.  She had a kind face. Rachel.  It didn’t seem right; somehow it didn’t fit but was it just me?

The Dog-Who-Wouldn’t-Be-Rachel was matter-of-fact.  “That’s a person’s name,” she said flatly.  “I want the right name.”  Before I even talked to her person, I offered up a few names that weren’t so “person-y”.  Peanut was the winner, though Penny placed.  Betsy was coolly received.  I liked Ladybug but it made her eyebrows go up.  What was that about?

The client wanted to know what the dog’s name was before she went to the pound.  It turned out to be something like Emily, though I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.  It didn’t matter; the dog waved it off.  In her former life she’d lived with a family that was perfectly nice.  She was well cared for as evidenced by her sparkling dental work, close-smile-127380-mbut they didn’t really “see” her.  She was a very specific character, thank you, and if it was all the same she wanted to be called something that fit who she was.  She told me the person at the pound hadn’t even stopped to look.  He just scrawled her name on a paper.

He’d had facial hair.  He was thinking about his plans for the evening.

Hm.  Rachel was out and Emily was out.  She wanted a name that fit, that wasn’t a person’s name.

We fell silent for a bit.

After awhile I asked the client, did she have any idea what she would call this dog, if she’d had no name at all?

The woman produced a name at once:  Rosie.  She went on to say the dog reminded her so much of her friend’s dog when she was a girl, a dog she’d loved very much.  I turned to the dog; would she like to be called Rosie?

This was the biggest hit of all; the dog beamed at me.  She wagged.  She wiggled.  “Rosie it is!” I said to the client.  “Go for it.”

Next Up:  Animal Communication Plays the Name Game, part II





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