Thursday, July 10, 2014

My Maria

One of my favorite books growing up was a picture book called Three Names by Patricia MacLachlan. I don't remember much about the book besides the cover, but I think that every person in the family had given their dog a different name, so someone decided to call him Three Names (which actually made four names). As someone with a history of pets with weird names (my first dog was Possum, our second family dog was a black dog named Snowflake, and then there's Sothlice), I always enjoy hearing how other people picked out their names for their pets.

When I met Barley, the shelter had named her Maria. I knew immediately that was not her name. Maybe if she had been a chihuahua or a xolo or some sort of Spanish herding dog. But it was not a name that fit my dog.

Barley's first picture while she was still named Maria.

I thought long and hard about the right name for my dog. My parents had chosen Maz for their dog after Pirates great Bill Mazeroski. I thought about the baseball players I grew up loving: Javy Lopez, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Chipper Jones. The only name that seemed like it could be kind of girly was Chipper--but that was the nickname my grandpa had given to my aunt's dalmatian.

My grandma had gone with holiday themes for the cats she'd had during my lifetime. Claus for her first Christmas kitten and Mistletoe (aka Missy) for her second. I adopted Barley on January 3--New Year was not a name.

I went through cutesy girly names I liked. Zoe almost stuck. Then I remembered I knew several people with tiny dogs named Zoe. It suddenly didn't seem like enough name for my girl.

Her first night at home before she had a name to put on a tag.

I thought about the other interests I had. Most of my favorite poets were men, so not good girly choices and I certainly wasn't naming her Emily. I thought about Emily Dickinson's dog, Carlo, but changing her name to Carla seemed as bad as Maria.

Then I came to my interest in craft beer. Most of my favorite breweries have the word dog somewhere in their name: Thirsty Dog, Flying Dog, Dogfish Head. It seemed appropriate.

Begging for snacks on her first night home. If Soth's nickname wasn't already Piglet, that might have become her name.

I went through all of the types of beer I liked. IPA was not a name. Porter seemed great, but also seemed like a boy name (and will be the name of Barley's next brother should we ever get a boy dog).  I kind of liked Stout, but my mom said that was mean. Hops seemed too generic. Then I came to Barley. It seemed perfect. I tested it out as we walked around the block together. By the time we went to bed, it was official.

Barley and I have a pretty musical life. Barley's so wiggly that it frequently looks like she's dancing instead of walking through the house. I sing to her (and poor, tolerant Soth) all the time. Pretty soon after she got her new name, I realized she was a little bit more than I had bargained for. I thought of the Sound of Music (which I've never actually seen, but I know all the music from a piano book we had growing up): "How do you solve a problem like Maria? How do you catch a cloud and pin it down? How do you find the word that means Maria?" Suddenly, the shelter's decision to name her Maria didn't seem so bizarre. 

"I'd like to say a word in her behalf: Maria makes me laugh!"

Recently, we were listening to the xm Prime Country station and one of my favorite childhood songs came on, Brooks and Dunn's "My Maria." It's a song I always belt out when I hear it, so I turned the radio up and started singing along. Once again, Maria didn't seem like such an odd name: "She is the sunlight when the skies are gray."

"Maria, I love you."

At our house, the shelter names become the pets' middle names, so she hasn't officially shed the Maria moniker, but it mostly comes out when she's in trouble or moments of silliness or frustration. I still think that Barley is a much better fit for my girl, but Maria might fit her a little better than I originally thought.

What about you? How did your pets get their names? 

We're linking up with Heart like a Dog and 2 Brown Dawgs for Thursday's Barks and Bytes.


10 comments:

  1. That is a great story. I think Barley fits. :) Thanks so much for joining the hop!

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    1. Thanks! I think it fits, too. For a while, I didn't think I'd ever be able to settle on a name.

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  2. Hahaha yes, Maria has to stay. Love that crazy girl :-)

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    1. Me, too! And she loves her Aunt L!

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  3. I love this story! It's so interesting to hear how people come up with their dogs' names. Mauja and Atka were named using Inuit words. Mauja means "soft, deep snow" and Atka means "guardian spirit". We thought those names were very fitting for Great Pyrenees guard dogs.

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    1. Those are beautiful names and so fitting for the breed! I love it!

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  4. Great story and what a process. Ava was an older dog when she came into our house so her named just stayed. I not sure the process around Veruca's name. I think it is a movie reference, but not Charley and the Chocolate Factory.

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    1. It was definitely a process! I don't know how parents ever decide on names for their babies! I'd probably have to wait until the kid could walk and talk and had a distinct personality before I could settle on something fitting :) I love the names Ava and Veruca, too!

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  5. I'll never call my dog Maria either... that's sort of the stereotype name that we give to domestic helpers over here *oops* ... anyways... and imagine a dog called Dogfish head! D: ... Donna is named by the shelter. They named all their dogs starting with D because D is for dog. We just stuck with it because she already responds to it, and having spent some years in the shelter, she just as much their dog (in a way) as ours... so no new name. :P But I like your idea of retaining a middle name... it never occurred to me.

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    1. It's so interesting to see how different shelters name their dogs! I know when puppies are born at our shelter they usually give them names that start with the same letter or are related to some theme (I know they had Pokemon puppies once!) so they know which puppies belong to which litter. I think sometimes they have fundraisers where if you donate a certain amount you get to choose a name for an adult dog who comes in, so who knows where Maria came from! I think Donna fits very well!

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