Jewish World Review Nov. 10, 2004 / 26 Mar-Cheshvan, 5765
A pet by any other name
A Brazilian legislator wants to make it a crime for pets to be given the same names as people.
In other words, it would be illegal to name your pit bull Bubba, but it would be perfectly OK to name your child Spot.
Federal congressman Reinaldo Santos e Silva said he proposed the law after psychologists suggested that some children may get depressed when they learn they share their first name with someone's pet.
I agree that one has to be careful when choosing the name of a pet, but I always thought it was the pet that ran the risk of emotional scarring, not children.
For example, it was probably wrong of me to name my two pug dogs Satan I and Satan II. Not only do they have trouble telling their names apart, but the implication that they are the embodiment of pure, unadulterated evil makes them so disconsolate that all they do is eat, sleep and poop. (Actually, I'm pretty sure that that's all they would do if I had named them Kerry and Bush, though doing something like that would undoubtedly cause worse problems elsewhere.)
Speaking of problems, there was an article in the paper the other day about an 8-year-old girl who dressed up for Halloween as her pet black pug, Misty. (Actually, at the last minute the girl decided to change her costume and go as Misty's best friend, Vito, another black pug. These are the kind of subtle apparel nuances that you probably have to be an 8-year-old girl to understand or appreciate.)
Tragically, none of the neighbors handing out candy Halloween night recognized the girl as Vito or, for that matter, Misty. The crushing blow came when one highly confused neighbor guessed that the girl had dressed up as … Minnie Mouse.
I hope the little girl is able to overcome this unfortunate incident and go on to lead a full, rich, happy life that does not require prescription antidepressants or weekly trips to a psychoanalyst's office. As for the two black pugs, I think the less they know about this, the better. It is one thing to go through life as "Vito" when you're a 15-pound lap dog; it's another thing entirely to know that you've been confused with an animated mouse, and a female one at that.
But the perils of vague Halloween costumes is a subject for another day. Today we are concerned with the connection between pet names and psychological trauma. Although I am not a trained mental health specialist, per se, I believe that these are some pet names you probably want to steer clear of:
Elvis The burden of being named after The King may be too much for a pet to handle. (Being Elvis was eventually too much for even Elvis to handle.) We once had a pet mouse named Elvis, and it died at a young age. The fact that all pet mice die at a young age should in no way detract from the point I'm trying to make.
Cher Don't name your dog or cat after this singer/actress unless you're looking for a high-maintenance pet. The plastic surgeries alone would almost certainly plunge you into bankruptcy.
Larry, Moe and Curly Pets can cause enough trouble without naming them after these masters of mayhem. Pets should play with braided ropes and squeaky toys, not saws, pliers or hammers.
The Donald Not only would your pet have bad fur and be insufferably self-absorbed, it would attempt to fire you every time you forget to give it a treat.
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JWR contributor David Grimes is a columnist for The Sarasota Herald Tribune. Comment by clicking here.
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