Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Pet names

I'm intrigued by what people call their pets.

My brother named his cat "Skookums" after the Chinook word for the creature otherwise known as Sasquatch. Mark Twain is said to have dubbed his housecats "Famine," "Pestilence," "Satan," and "Sin." One of my law professors has a little dog she styles "William the Conqueror." My dad had a law school classmate who kept in his carrel a goldfish named after the eminent American jurist Learned Hand.

I like the idea of naming animals after historical or literary figures. We'll probably end up getting a cat after I graduate and we move into a house rather than an apartment. We've decided that his name will be "Count Leo." If I had a golden retriever I would call him "Lord Byron." If we ever got a husky or malamute, his name would be "Pushkin."

I also like the idea of giving the pets a title as part for their name. It exalts the animal kingdom tongue-in-cheek and points out the utter silliness of our human pretense. It seems to me that it uses humor to advance the great mandate that "ye shall not esteem one flesh above another."

One of my favorite names ever is the alliterative moniker of the the Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter. The great thing about this name is that if takes two words, one Latin and one German, that both begin with F, but that, by some hilarious miracle of history, both begin with H when translated into their American English cognates. Felix Frankfurter becomes Happy Hot-dog. It's a wonderful name. And Felix is of course, a archetypal cat name. So naturally, I also would like to name a cat "Mr. Justice Frankfurter."

5 comments:

amanda said...

Speaking of giving animals titles in their name to poke fun at pretense, I think it'd be a good idea to name an animal Professor _____. I also like the idea of naming an animal "Beast," after the Disney character, after one of my favorite X-Men characters, after some American Gladiator I'm sure exists or existed, take your pick. Just a thought.

The Shark said...

If I had a pair of cats I would name them Jasper and Myrtle. You know why.

JKC said...

Beast isn't bad. But we all know that the greatest American Gladiator ever was Malibu

Cabeza said...

If I had a female golden retriever (or perhaps a beagle), I'd name her Scout, after the character in To Kill a Mockingbird.

I came up with a really good name for a cat the other day, but now I can't remember it...

Skoticus said...

All of our family pets have "Old" names. Meaning names from old mythology/ancient cultures.

We had a cat named Cleopatra (now passed)who had Egyptian eye makeup patterns. It was amazing.

A cat named Asher (after the tribe of Isreal)

A cat named St. Fransis who has a white priest collar and a white cross on his black body.

And a dog named Apollo. There is nothing Apollian about him: small, grey, and hyper.

And there you have it.