Search Me!

Think about it...

Monday, December 7, 2009

JJ: What's in a Name?

Does a name influence the being it's given to? I wonder . . . After bad luck with a couple of dogs from the Lyn years, I went puppy hunting. The Mountain Trader had an ad for a yellow lab pup that sounded interesting so Susan's sister Lisa and I went to look at it. The folks that had him lived up near the cemetery, and when we got there an oversize puppy came bouncing out to meet us. He was introduced to us as Moose, and I figured he was well named since he was obviously going to be a big fellow. After we played with him a bit we took him home. Love at first sight. Susan wasn't too thrilled, but Bec & Lisa and I were happy with him. He loved to play and loved to retrieve, though he was still such a clumsy pup that he'd trip and drop the ball or stumble while running after it as often as not. He grew up to be a Moose in size, big and adroit and a lot of fun. If he had a drawback, it was that he was a four-legged garbage can with infinite capacity. After Susan and her family pulled out and Bec & I were alone again, we brought a large pizza home for supper and put it on the kitchen counter while we went out to do the chores. When we came back in, Moose was just finishing off the last of the pizza box. He'd already scarfed up the whole pizza. Bec was livid and I was not amused. He taught us to be careful where we kept anything edible and if we didn't want the trash can tipped over and contents scattered we'd better not put any food scraps in it. When we moved into town, I stayed in a cubbyhole in the back of the store for a while and Bec stayed with some friends a few blocks away. She'd walk to the store during the day and the walk home again at night but I never worried about her: Moose always escorted her back and forth. She'd put him on a leash and he'd stalk along ahead of her, hackles up, lips curled, and daring anyone to get too close. Nobody offered to make his day, he was way too big and way too intense. Moose had transferred his affection from me to Bec, and when Bec got more interested in boys than dogs he switched his affection to a girl named Kathy that was helping me at the store. He was quite emphatic about it too, growling at me if I approached her too closely. He'd done the same thing in the past when I'd gotten after Bec, letting me know that she had a protector. I took Kathy for a boat ride on the river and he came along. We stopped and played and threw sticks for him to retrieve, a game he never tired of. When we left and were all back in the boat heading home -- at full throttle -- I saw that the stick we'd used was on the floorboards by my feet. I picked it up and tossed it overboard. Mistake. Moose saw me throw it and hit the water at the same time the stick did. I circled back to pick him up with my ears burning -- Kathy was NOT pleased with me and said I should have known better and that I was lucky Moose didn't get hurt. Moose was pretty expressive. He pasted on an almost-human expression when he was disgusted, wrinkling up his nose and lifting one side of his lip in something that resembled a snarl but unmistakably wasn't. He mostly used it when he was frustrated, or when I tried to give him some of the venison Susan smoked. Kathy saw that expression for the first time when Moose tried to follow her out of the store and my bicycle was in his way. He couldn't get past it so he gave it his best disgusted look, which cracked Kathy up and prompted her to move the bike for him. Moose was the first of the Store Greeters I've had over the years, and I still get folks who ask about him, though he died of cancer back in July of '97. One of the people that asked about him was the grown-up girl of the family I'd gotten him from. When I commented that he'd sure lived up to his name, becoming a Moose of a dog, she corrected me with a laugh. His name wasn't Moose, it was "Mousse." She'd named him that because when he was very little his hair had stuck up in little tufts like a styling gel had been used on it. Okay, I guess he didn't live up to his real name, but he was truly a Moose of a dog, brave and big-hearted and intensely loyal to the person he chose to serve. TBC (Me)