Thursday, December 16, 2010

Naming the New Dog Blues

der Beanerschnitzel

The Bloggess has a very funny post up about a new kitten they just got named Bob Barker...or Anderson Cooper...or Pterodactyl. I'm not quite sure which at this point because the cat's name seems to be in a state of flux, and understandably so, as they are letting the cat have some say in the matter.
I totally understand how this works as we also had some difficulty coming up with an appropriate name for our new dog, Bean, although after two months time Bean's name is mostly stabilized. Bean is a 5-year-old greyhound that just came off the track. When we got him his name was Blue, and therein lies the story.
Blue was supposed to be a blue fawn in color. He's registered that way. I've always wanted a blue fawn hound. Blue fawn is an unusual and striking color. In my mind anyone who has ever seen a blue fawn hound forever after covets a blue fawn hound. Blue fawn is a designer color—opulent, velveteen, subtle. It is comprised of fawn hair shafts tipped with gray. Gray greyhounds are called blue. Blue greyhounds are rare. Blue fawn greyhounds are rarer still. On balance the color of blue fawn is taupe, but there is an almost iridescent quality to it. It changes with the background and the lighting. It is silvery or bronze according to the necessity of its surroundings. It is what it needs to be. It is magical. It goes with everything.
Going with everything is a useful quality in a greyhound's coat. An adopted greyhound it is going to spend a great deal of the rest of its life curled up on your furniture in iconic repose. Once you realize that the hound has become part of your d├ęcor, you are going to have to work it into your color scheme. There are only two possible ways to do this: change the color of your dog or change the color of your rooms.
Notwithstanding the existence of neon hued poodles, you cannot change the color of a greyhound. Greyhounds are too naturally regal to tolerate this kind of foolishness. That means you are going to have to paint your walls, replace your carpeting, and buy new furniture. That means, once you have a hound, you are limited to a design palette that matches your dog. What a happy circumstance then to be blessed with a dog that goes with everything. It is for this reason that whenever a blue fawn hound comes available for adoption, it is snapped up within minutes by people in the know. This is what was supposed to happen to us.
We were in the know. We were first to find out that a blue fawn hound was coming off the track. We weren't in a very good position to take on another dog. We already had a sweet little brindle girl in our tiny house, and I was still unemployed. On the other hand we might never get another chance at a blue fawn. Most people have never even seen a blue fawn hound. We were getting first crack at taking one home. We decided to go have a look.
We took the brindle to meet the blue. She would have the final vote. If she didn't like him, he'd just have to go elsewhere. If she did, well that would just ice the cake. I already knew how it was going to go for me. I'm a sucker for greyhounds. Besides the brindle we've had for 8 years now, we've tried to foster two other greyhounds. Fostering is taking care of them in your home while the agency tries to place them in a permanent home.
I say we tried to foster because I didn't get either dog all the way home before I decided we were going to adopt them ourselves. They were just that charming. So fostering didn't work out so well for me. I needed a deeper commitment, so I made one. I figured the same thing was going to happen with Blue. Once I saw him, I was going to want to keep him. But I was really only going to look because he was a blue fawn. I may be a sucker for greyhounds, but I am a slave to fashion.
When we got to the kennel, the director came running out to meet us as we were getting out of the car.
I'm so sorry,” she said. “You're going to hate me.”
I didn't really think so at that point, but I've learned over the years never to underestimate people's capacity to piss me off.
Why is that?” I asked.
He's not a blue fawn.”
What is he then?”
Fawn. Plain old fawn.”
How did that happen?”
I don't know. All his paperwork, all the way back to his initial registration, says he's a blue fawn. He's not though. There's not a blue hair on him.”
It must be the wrong dog then,” I ventured.
No. I checked his tattoos. He's Blue, but he's not blue.”
I was thinking just then that I might be a little blue. I'd just driven two hours on the promise that I could have a blue fawn dog. I couldn't. However it came about, the promise was a sham—a trap to suck me in and dash my hopes. This was all beginning to sound familiar. It was beginning to sound just like the rest of my life. Expect one thing...get less. I knew the drill. I was going to have to figure out how to settle for what I actually had coming to me. I know how to do this. It's one of the things that makes me too wonderful to deserve the 'slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.'
They had some other dogs we could look at. I tried several. There was a big black and white spotted boy that looked like a holstein. He was missing half his tail, and he pulled on his leash like an ox. I didn't need that. We had a labrador/chow mix once that pulled on his leash. He pulled my wife's shoulder out of joint. I had to twist her arm back into its socket. I learned two things doing that. One, I can do a lot of disagreeable stuff if I really have to, and two, orthopedics can be really disagreeable.
There was another fawn boy, besides Blue, and a dark brindle girl. I considered the girl for a while. She was a pretty little thing, but she also was a little churlish to my taste. I'm the designated churl in our family. I don't need any help, and I don't need any competition. The fawn boy, the one who was neither blue nor Blue, was skittish and slovenly. I knew he would clean up, but I really didn't want a timid, fearful dog. You just never know what to expect from them, and I don't have the patience or the expertise to rehabilitate one.
the very cool scar with stitch tracks!
The best of the lot then turned out to be Blue...even though he wasn't blue. He was a little ratty looking too, and he was sporting a fresh 6 inch scar on his left flank. The stitch marks were still raw and pink. I was concerned that he might have been in a fight, but it turned out that he had torn his side on a fence at the track compound.
Greyhounds are notoriously thin-skinned. It is unusual to get one off the track that doesn't have scars or other signs of a strenuous and hazardous existence. Blue's scar was an impressive one in scale and shape. It gave him an air of danger and mystery, when in fact it was born of sheer clumsiness. It was kind of like the eye patch on that guy in the old Hathaway shirt commercials. Blue might have been a pirate in a former existence. His disposition was friendly and genteel, but the scar made him look a little dangerous. I liked him. Our brindle seemed to like him too, and that clinched the deal for me. We took Blue home.
We started thinking of new names for Blue on the way home. He'd been called Blue for five years, but near as I could tell he had never actually been blue except on paper. The obvious misnomer did not sit well with me. There was no way I was going to call a golden dog blue. The very notion offended me.
We came up with a few notable names including Old Yeller and Scarface, but neither of those was very satisfying. Old Yeller ended up sadly, and Scarface was just wrong on several levels. I thought of Schweppes, and kind of liked it, before I realized that the Schweppes tonic guy was not the guy with the eye patch. He may have had a pirate kind of look and feel, but schweppervescence is not the equal of an eye patch when it comes to commanding admiration.
Hathaway would have made a classy name, but it may have been too classy. You can't shorten Hathaway up very well, and you certainly can't call a dog by a three syllable name when you are trying to get him to stop eating your shoes or the TV remote. That's when you need a short, distinctive name that gets his attention without making him feel like he is more distinguished and better looking than you are—no matter how much he may in fact be. No, Hathaway wouldn't do either. (Besides I didn't remember that the eye patch guy was from Hathaway until I just Googled it 10 minutes ago.)
Nothing else really tripped my trigger. I was going over stuff to say about the dog in my mind, hoping that something about him would suggest a name. That's when I was suddenly overwhelmed with a foul odor from the back of the car. A green cloud of noxious gas settled over my ruminations. I knew it couldn't be our brindle because I had never fed her road kill or swamp sludge. That's when it came to me.
How about Beano?” I asked my wife.
Beano? What's that got to do with anything?”
Well, we drove down there to see a blue dog. When we saw him, we looked all over his hide and hair very carefully, and saw that there be no blue.”
That's it,” she said. “You're going to make his name a bad pun with bad grammar?”
You have a problem with that?”
I have a problem with Beano. It sounds like that gas pill.”
I know. Isn't that great?”
We started out calling him Beno, and spelling it B-E instead of B-E-A, but we were always thinking of B-E-A, so we changed the spelling to what everyone was thinking anyway, and then we shortened it to just Bean because there's so much more that you can do with Bean in terms of derivative endearments, and so far that's stuck on him pretty well. He seems to like it, and so does everyone else. Bean is a good name for a dog. It's one you don't hear very often—ever in my case—but it seems to roll off the tongue and convey a sense of casual conviviality that matches up well with our non-blue dog.
Now that we are settled on Bean for a name, we have started to expand on the theme of it. We call him Bean and Beano mostly, but also Beanie, Beanie Baby, Beanie Weenie, Mr. Bean, Beaner, and my personal favorite, der Beanerschnitzel, all interchangeably and as circumstances warrant. He answers to them all because, well, he's not blue. He's just bubbling over with schweppervescence.


  1. Ah the pain of thinking you're getting a blue fawn and finding out it's just a plain old fawn. Great post.

  2. Always happy to see another greyhound find their rightful couch.

  3. And we are happy to have him, although so far he won't get up on the couch. The brindle, Sandy, lives on our couch and in a double-size easy chair, but Bean so far won't get up on the furniture. Don't know why. We've tried to encourage him. Anyway, I failed to mention in the post that he's turned out to be just an excellent dog. He is happy, smart, and eager to please. We've only had him 3 months, and he's nearly completely civilized...and a joy to be around.


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