25 July 2011

TDIV personal stories: How my dogs Elsie and Chaser got their names

How Elsie Got Named
People often ask why we named our dog after a cow (you’ve got to be fairly old to get that one). Or perhaps, they think, since we got her through a rescue mission (a story for another day), she already had a name when we got her, and we didn’t want to confuse the pup by changing its moniker to suit our selfish desires.
Actually, she was not yet named when we picked her up that snowy February morning in 2003. And her name had been picked out long, long before little Elsie was a spark in her daddy’s eye. In fact, I had chosen the name years before I even thought I’d ever get another dog, something I’d been yearning for since I’d been thrown back into singleton status in 1991.

So, the name. Well, after my marriage broke up in 1991, I swore off men for quite some time. It wasn’t that I no longer wanted a man in my life, exactly; it was more like, there is no way on earth I am ever going to trust anyone to even turn on the radio, let alone come into my life and heart and do THAT to me again. So it wasn’t looking good for another relationship.
In the meantime, I’d moved into an apartment on my own, had thrown myself into work, and had decided I’d focus on “self-development” to the point that I wouldn’t need a man in my life. Happy to say, after just a leetle, tiny, wee focus on this lofty goal (only six years!), I was able to function on my own--more or less.

What I decided during those six years was that I’d get myself another dog, goshdarnit, no matter what. And that I’d have that dog as my companion, my soul-mate, my company, my true love (no not in that way, silly!). Just that a dog could be trusted, a dog would be loyal, a dog would be reliable, a dog would remain cute through all its days–exactly all the things my ex-hubby was not.

During that time, though, I lived in a basement apartment, and dogs were strictly verboten. So all I had to hold on to was my dream of getting another pup, with all the time in the world to work on a name. And then it came to me: L.C.! Correct: the letters, “L” and “C”. As in, Life Companion. The one I would choose to spend my days with. The one who would replace the awful, temporary, break-your-heart, human companions. Short form: L.C.

What I loved about the name was the double entendre. Of course, I’d know that it actually meant “life companion” (the only one I could truly count on), but in fact, when said aloud, it would sound like the common name, “Elsie.” And so The Girl’s name was born–long before she was!
Little did I know, by 1997 I’d meet the human love of my life, the sweetie with whom I currently share my home and future. And that we’d get that dog, the one I’d dreamed about, together, and both raise her. And that they’d both bring me joy and smiles, at least once a day.
Now it’s back to working on all the rest of it.

[And, Five Years Later. . . . ]
If Vodka is an Elsie, then Beer is a Chaser (Or, How Our Second Puppy Got Named)
Once, several years ago, I read in a women's magazine that the best time to discuss "serious" issues with your male partner is when you're in the car, preferably going for a long drive. That way, you are in close contact with each other, it's quiet and private, he can't escape, and he doesn't have to look you in the eye (always an intimacy-buster for men). I have absolutely no doubt that writer knew whereof she wrote. With that in mind, here's a little glimpse into how we got, and then named, our second dog, Chaser.
(Scene One: Early morning. Ricki and her honey, driving in the car, circa February, 2006.)
Ricki (sweetly, with a quiet, loving tone): I just love Elsie so much. But you know, she's lonely. She lies on her pillow all day, moping and sighing, or else she just wanders over to the window and stares yearningly at the birds and squirrels outside. And I feel so guilty going off to work and leaving her alone for such long stretches of time. Dogs are pack animals, you know. They're not meant to be alone. It's so hard on her. She needs a sibling. What do you say let's get another dog?
HH: No.
(Scene Two: Mid-Afternoon. Ricki and her honey, driving in the car, circa May, 2006.)
Ricki (gesturing expressively): Oh, come on, why can't we get another dog? You know that you love Elsie. You know you do. Okay, okay, fine; I promise to take full responsibility for house training. I'll even be the one who gets up in the middle of the night to let her out to pee until she's trained. Oh, come on, honey, you'll love it, I know you will. And isn't Elsie great? Isn't she? Isn't she just the cutest thing in the universe? Don't you just adore her?
HH: Elsie, stop nipping my ear! Get off me! Back! Go on, get into that back seat!
(Scene Three: Evening. Ricki and her honey, driving in the car, circa January, 2007)
Ricki (Despondent. She pouts.): But I have to have another dog. You know how much I love dogs. I am bitterly unhappy! I simply cannot envision my life without another dog in it! Two, two is all I want. Really. I need a puppy. Elsie needs a sister. Seriously, I don't think I can live without another dog. I will never have another happy moment in my entire life unless we get another dog. (She sheds a tear.)
HH: Elsie, I said get back! This dog is driving me crazy. Go on, get away, I can't see where I'm---
(Screeching noises. The car lurches to a stop, millimeters from a tree. Silence. He glowers.)

(Scene Four. Ricki and her honey. Mid-morning, driving in the car, circa May, 2007)
Ricki (from the back seat): Oooh, look at this little angel! Isn't she just the sweetest little thing?? Ohhh, hello my little fuzzy wuzzy, ooooh you are so cutesie wootsie, what a darling little puppy wuppy kiss kiss pat pat. . . HH: She hasn't shut up since we got back in the car. Can't you make her stop crying?
Ricki: Just ignore her. Besides, we can't really get her attention until she knows her name.
HH: But she doesn't have a name yet.
Ricki: Well, I've got some excellent ideas! How about--
HH: Wait a sec, YOU named Elsie/L.C. You said I could come up with a name for this one.
Ricki: (Suspiciously) Okayyyyy. . . . what's your idea for a name?
HH: I don't have one.
Ricki: Well, then, let ME pick one!
HH: No.
Ricki (after a pause): Okay, well, let's brainstorm. I'm sure we can come up with something. How about related to your hobbies. I know, what about a cute car name, like Bentley, since you love cars?
HH: You mean, like, "Come here, Ferrari!" Naw, too stupid sounding.
Ricki: Well, what about a famous musician's name, then?
HH: What, like, "Come here, Rachmaninov!" Really stupid sounding.
Ricki: Okay, let's look at some of our favorite television shows. What about Star Trek?
HH: Oh, yeah, like, "Come here, Seven of Nine!" Right. Mega stupid. As if we're going to find a name in a television show!
Ricki: Hmmmm. What about House? Who are our favorite characters. . . .let's see. . . .Gregory House, Dr. Foreman. . . .
HH: Really, this is not going to work.
Ricki: There's Dr. Chase. . . Hey! How about Chaser?
HH: Hmmmnnn. (Pause). Perhaps, perhaps.
Ricki: Yeah, that's kinda cute, actually, little Chaser. . . .
HH: Sort of like a "chaser" after a drink. . . yeah! Hmm! VERY cute!
Ricki: Yes! And she's so energetic and bouncy, I bet she'll be chasing Elsie all over the place--
HH: Okay. I think I like it!
(They arrive home, and, as they both cradle the puppy in their arms, they kiss. They enter the house as a family unit).
(Scene Five. Morning. Ricki and her honey, driving in the car, circa January, 2008)
Ricki: See, I told you they'd get along eventually! See how Chaser just loves Elsie. . . she doesn't leave her alone, in fact. Actually, I think the only one that Chaser loves more than Elsie is yo--
HH: Chaser, off! Stop nipping my ear! Get back in the--
(Screeching noises. The car comes to a stop millimeters from a flowerbed in someone's front yard. Silence, followed by loud and enthusiastic barking. The scene fades to black.)
Well, if I learned anything from the experience, it's this: we sure could use a chauffeur.

Original posted here: http://www.dietdessertndogs.com/2007/12/05/dog-day-how-elsie-got-named/ and

Ricki Heller, PhD, RHN | @RickiHeller
Formerly the owner of a vegan bakery, Ricki adapted those recipes for her cookbook, Sweet Freedom: Desserts You'll Love without Wheat, Eggs, Dairy or Refined Sugar. She also writes articles about food for various publications and online sites. Find Ricki posting delicious, healthy recipes on her blog, Diet, Dessert and Dogs.

Photo credits: Ricki Heller