Atheist Life Hacks: How To Name A Dog
If you’ve hung around here long enough, you know Godless Mom loves the pups. I have my own gorgeous rescue mutt, Rocky, a stunning mix of lab, shepherd, rotty & husky. Or so they told me. All I know is, he blows his coat twice a day and I vacuum up twice his weight in fur each week. He’s 14, and he’s been by my side since he was one. Nearly every day, I look at him and say, “It’s you and me against the world, Rock.” Never in my life have I ever known such loyalty as the sort he gives me.
When I adopted him from the shelter, I kept his name. He was already a year old and it’s what he had been called for over a month at the shelter. Rocky, Rockers, Rocko, Roxy Roller, Rocket Man, Rockamarollio, Riggity Rolls, Rog Dog, Roggers or Rock, Stock and Two Smokin’ Paws. Oh, and sometimes Bilbo Waggins. He’s sleeping right here next to me as I write this.
When I was born, my parents had two champion basset hounds. One was red and white and his name was Archie. The other was tri-coloured, a few bricks short, named Jughead. They were my best buddies. We used to joke that my parents could have left me as a baby on the street in East Vancouver with Archie and nothing would have happened to me, although a few fiendish crimers may have ended up with their jugulars torn out.
Archie & Juggy
Jughead on the other hand... well, Jughead once kept walking along a dock, even after the dock ended, and fell into Cultus Lake not understanding what had happened to the ground beneath his feet.
Jughead ate a rock one day. He needed surgery to have it removed. He didn’t make it. A month later, Archie passed away of a broken heart.
Sometime after, one rainy night, I got out of bed and trudged downstairs where my parents were watching Dallas. I climbed onto my mom’s lap and looked up at her, tears tumbling down my cheeks. “I miss Archie and Jughead,” I said. She held me and sobbed softly into my hair. “I know, dolly. I know.”
My parents took us camping that summer and we had a great time, but driving back to Vancouver, we all felt like there wasn’t anything homey about home without those dogs there. My parents realized home is wherever we were together and decided to take us travelling for a year because YOLO or something. We went to Hawaii, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, and Tahiti. We came back a year later tanned, happy and more worldly.
For my tenth birthday, I asked for a bike. I had a pink Strawberry Shortcake bike which I had become much too cool for. I wanted a black mountain bike. I begged and begged and begged my parents for that bike. A few days before my birthday, I was riding home from the pool with my friends on said pink Strawberry Shortcake bike when I noticed my little brother waving me into the driveway.
“Come quick!”, he said. “Mom and Dad got you your birthday present!”
I saw something glimmering through the fence to the backyard as my teeny tiny brother led me to the gate. A bike, I thought. Yes!
My mom opened the gate for me and I stepped into my backyard. Squinting in the sun, I looked around and didn’t see a bike. My heart sunk.
“Court, look behind you. Down” My mom said.
I turned and looked down and saw the most beautiful basset puppy I’d ever seen in my life. In a nanosecond, I forgot about the damned bike, picked up this adorable creature and began to cry. “He’s beautiful!” I blubbered.
It took us about a week to name him, and my Dad eventually came up with it. Sydney. It was perfect. We’d just come back from a year in Australia, fell in love with it and its many cities, and it was just the perfect name for the perfect dog.
Sydney was special. We used to have neighbourhood kids knock on the door and ask if he could play. When he slipped a disc in his back and became paralyzed, we got get well soon cards in the mail for him, and he had visitors come from all over town to see how he was doing. When he took his first steps again after his injury, we had calls of congratulations from people we didn’t even remember ever meeting. When he got sick at age 13 with cancer, and I was 23, we had condolences from more people than we even realized we knew. I drove with him to the vet. I held his giant paws in my hands and rubbed his velveteen ears so I could remember forever what they felt like. We handed him over to the vet and said goodbye for the very last time. My little, four-legged best friend was gone.
I couldn’t live without a dog. I’m simply not built that way. I need a pup by my side or my life feels like it’s missing something. So, I went out and saved Rocky from euthanasia. My parents, who felt similarly about dogs, adopted another basset.
Their new pup was the offspring of the American basset champion and the Canadian basset Champion. As such, he had the longest ears I had ever seen, the shortest legs possible and paws the size of goddamned pizzas. Everything on this dog was exaggerated. It was like a living, breathing cartoon character. He was red and white and it looked like he was wearing a long, brown trench coat. It reminded my dad of Cosmo Kramer from Seinfeld and so, the pup was named Kramer. When my son was born, he had trouble saying “Kramer” and began to call him Peemo.
Kramer, like Rocky, moved with my whole family down to Mexico. Kramer didn’t come back. After a stay with a dog sitter, he came back covered in ticks, which led to seizures, which led to having to put him down. My parents called me from Mexico during a meeting with my landlord, who was telling us we had to move because he was selling the house. They told me Kramer had passed. I bawled. I would never see him again.
Since that time, I’ve tried to urge my parents to get another dog. Not because they needed to replace Kramer, but because there are so many out there that are euthanized every day and what better way to honour the life of a dog you loved than to give love to one who would otherwise be dead. They hesitated. The loss of Kramer is still, to this day, very raw for all of us.
Two weeks ago, my parents stopped by. They told me they were adopting a rescue basset. He was rescued in Mexico by a shelter run by people they knew from living there. He flew from Playa Del Carmen to Calgary, then finally here and all the while my parents discussed what to name him.
Shortly before he arrived, my Dad asked my son what he would name the dog. My little dude, without hesitation, said, “Peemo.”
And so, I would like you all to meet Peemo, who arrived on Monday: