Lying in bed last night, thinking about my doctor’s appointment that I had on Tuesday and the follow-up blood work lab that I had this morning, and thinking what it must be like to work in such a small business, I remembered that the name of the receptionist in the office is “Ginger.” And I felt pretty good about myself for having remembered her name, until I remembered that Ginger was the name of my dog when I was growing up. Names are often easier to remember if I’ve used them before. But then I felt guilty about associating this lovely young woman with a dog because it seemed a little offensive.
And then I started trying to think of all the names for dogs that my family has had over the years. We’ve had a lot of dogs.
Right now, they have Sherlock, a beautiful fawn boxer that can probably jump higher than my head. They used to have Skipper, a golden retriever mix. When I was growing up, we had Astro, Ginger, Annie, Socrates (Sockie), and Antoinette (Toni). The first dog I really remember well was a white mix named Nickie. If I remember names right, there was a Lady, Cubby, Buddy, Tara, Toby, and Sebastian. There was a Maltese named Topanga.
And then we had other animals.
There was a goat named Hercules. He was “adopted” by an Appaloosa named Apache. I think Hercules’ father might have been Randy, which, thinking back on it now, is absolutely hilarious.
There was the king of cats named Rascal. Other cats (or maybe just one cat three times) named Twilight, Sut, and Jazzwick. And Mama Cat, who was always hiding around the house having more kittens. And, of course, the cat I called “Scat” who ran away.
And that’s just a handful of the animals, just the ones I can think of names for right now. We had names for the herd of Nubian goats and . . . those other goats whose breed I have not been able to pinpoint. We probably named the ducks, but since there’s no way to tell ducks apart when all of them are white with no markings, naming didn’t really have much effect. We had more dogs and more cats and they all had names—even the puppies that we sold. We had rabbits.
We had pigs once, but I don’t think we named them. And I know we didn’t name the chickens. Although we might have had a name for the rooster. He was kinda scary.
Growing up, we lived in farming country. Our neighbor up the hill kept cows. Several of my classmates lived on farms. I never thought it was all that odd that we had so many animals at our place, too. We had a “hobby farm”—it never brought in any income (except maybe when Mom was doing the dog kennel thing), but it helped assuage the cost of a couple things. Eggs. Vegetables in the summer. Meat, when we’d eat the chickens and the pigs and the rabbits that they tricked us into eating. It didn’t seem odd at all.
I have since met a lot of people who have never lived anywhere near a farm. The idea of raising chickens, eating the eggs, and then eating the chicken, is completely alien to them. Eggs come in Styrofoam containers. Chickens come in plastic wrap. The closest they’ve come to a goat was at the petting zoo.
I get some really weird looks by some of these people. City-dwelling Southerners, who’ve never walked across frozen chicken poop to collect frozen eggs, who’ve never milked a goat, who’ve never watched their parents pluck the feathers off a chicken. Their childhood was about riding bikes with friends around the neighborhood and trips to the park or the beach. We’d walk through the woods down to the river for our swimming spot.
I really can’t imagine growing up any other way. There were times when I didn’t appreciate it, times when I wished I didn’t have chores that involved animal poop or weeding the garden. But I have lots of fond memories of it now. And I appreciate that my parents made the decision to raise us like they did.
Thanks, Mom and Dad! You’re so much more cool than I thought you were when I was in high school. *Love!*
And if anyone can figure out how I ended up here when I started talking about names of receptionists and pets, please let me know. I’m really not sure how I managed that one.