The Dog Days of Summer: the Readers are Restless

Sigh. Throughout the spring and summer (and probably before) Amy has been running occasional letters from folks distressed by the fact that someone in their family has named a dog or cat after another family member, and it “hurts” them to hear the precious, precious name of their loved one applied to a lowly beast. (“Jack, stop eating your vomit! Bad Jack! Bad Jack!”)

Before we begin, I should reveal that I am not entirely objective in this issue. I once named a goldfish “Mary,” at which point I learned that that was also my grandmother’s first name (not Grammie?)

As a result, I’ve been pleased and grateful to learn that it’s rarely the “victims” themselves who are upset by this–people who actually share a name with a family pet seem to recognize that this is usually 1) a tribute made by a loving (or ignorant) child with good intentions 2) um….a coincidence.

Instead, it’s the parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents of the victims (in other words, those who probably don’t have to hear about Jack-the-dog’s personal habits on a daily basis) who perceive this catastrophe as a deliberate slight to their loved ones. Today’s contributor, though, really takes it to the next level. In fact, I think I’d like to award him the newly established Crank Of (the) Week (COW) Award.

This honor will be awarded based upon a rigorous evaluation consisting of my personal judgment. Taking into account my own tendency to “vent” (whine) about completely inane issues, it should be considered a highly prestigious award in this field.

But–back to our winner! Here’s his letter:

Dear Amy:
I have been following the letters in your column about dogs that are named after people. There are two dogs in my neighborhood, one with my granddaughter’s name and one with my nephew’s name.

Dogs are not the same as people. I can’t bear to hear these dogs being called by names of my family members.

—Upset

Amy takes these folks with a grain of salt and a handful of brevity: “Dear Upset: You’re right. Dogs are not the same as people, and that is precisely why you should not take this personally.”

But certainly “Upset” is within his/her rights? I would have advised Upset to become active in neighborhood, even city (!) government, taking legislative action against this heinous situation.

Perhaps by petition, s/he could institute a mandatory poll of anyone who at any time might come into hearing range of any local family-dog interactions to ensure no duplicate names. (Naturally, the logistics for determining “hearing range” would have to account for folks on their porches with ear trumpets, listening carefully for the offensive name)

Failing this, “Upset” might prefer to simply pass a law prohibiting crossover between animal and human names. We could take this thing back to Beethoven. There could be a sliding fee system, where both parents AND pet owners could be charged based on their use of ambiguous names, such as “Kitty.”

Right. In short, I agree with Amy completely on this one–except with her decision to print this letter.

“Upset” does not have a question. S/he is not seeking guidance. S/he wants to weigh in on the ongoing conversation–a valid thing to do, if you have a new idea or suggestion to contribute. But instead Upset just takes the issue to a new level of crazy. Why keep printing these, unless to mock your loyal readers?

So congratulations to you, “Upset,” on your two-fold victory. Be forewarned that, as a winner of the COW award, you cannot win again for at least 6 months–although with an alias, I’d never know the difference. So keep on keeping on!

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2 responses to “The Dog Days of Summer: the Readers are Restless

  1. This is quite simply the best award I have ever heard of.

  2. Thanks! I will try to remember to award it weekly, unless I find that insufficient and have to switch over to Crank Of (the) Day (COD), which wouldn’t be such a bad thing either.

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