My stepdaughter, Agatha, has moved back from Brooklyn to live in our garage apartment until next summer. She's a law school grad and clerking for a federal judge in Memphis. I love her dearly, but she has one habit that has caused me stress. She takes in foster dogs.
Yeah, I know, that's a noble thing to do. But we already have two small old male dogs and two cats, none of whom have any interest in making new canine friends. I was not pleased with this development.
The first dog she brought home was a good boy, a mid-sized shepherd of some sort, but he chased our cats and made their lives miserable. We got him adopted after a couple of weeks. Then, before I could even broach the subject, Agatha brought home another dog. He was big and bossy and took a piece out of my old schnauzer's ear on his third day with us. I was angry and I banished him and laid down the law to Agatha: No more foster dogs. (Only there was a bad word in between "more" and "foster.") There was peace for a few weeks.
Then, last Thursday, Agatha came in the house and said, "I've done something bad." I had my back turned, staring at the computer. What? I thought. An accident? A horrible haircut? When I turned around, she was holding a puppy — the cutest, heart-melting-est puppy I've ever seen. She laughed as my facial expression went from "Not another @#%#&! dog!" to "Awwwww."
"He was rescued from a crack house," she said. "They named him Crackle."
After only two days, Crackle had become housebroken and kennel-trained. He was playful and funny and irresistible. Even the other dogs liked him. We decided Crackle would join our family menagerie and go back to Brooklyn with Agatha next summer. Yeah, I'm a sucker.
But Crackle is a horrible name, and we decided to change it. My daughter, Mary, and my son's girlfriend, Camille, were also in town this week. All these women, plus my wife, had ideas for what to call this little guy. Female ideas.
Here are a few dog-naming tips I tried to pass on to the ladies: First, when considering a dog's name, add "dammit," and yell it loudly, as in, "Dammit, Mocha!" This will eliminate many stupid potential names
Second: Imagine yourself calling your dog in front of lots of people. Do you really want to be that person in the park yelling, "Here, Gary! GARY! Come!" Ironic human names are to be avoided at all costs.
Third: Your dog will not always be a precious puppy. Imagine, in 10 years, saying to a stinky old mutt, "Sit, Squiddles." Give the ol' boy some dignity.
I lobbied for Heinz or Raiford.
And, so yeah ... his name is King Elvis Grizzle-Biscuit. That's dignified, right?
I'm calling him Griz.
The lady doth protest too much, methinks. — William Shakespeare
Is there such a thing as "bad activism"? I'm asking because I'm seeing a lot of criticism of the folks who are protesting the Memphis Zoo's encroachment onto the Greensward at Overton Park.
In the 14 years I've been the Flyer editor, I've gotten lots of hate mail. It mostly used to come in envelopes filled with pages of scrawled handwriting. I read them and put them in the wastebasket, chalking it up as a natural by-product of writing for a liberal paper in the conservative South. Lately, the angry folks have switched to email, and it comes in waves ...