Regular readers may recall (and new ones can find in the November Archives) that while traveling through Italy the Fabulous Miss K purchased a remarkable coat after spending the morning on a Tuscan wine-tasting foray. The coat, designed by a collective of blind Italians, is both shaggy, patch-worked, and curly, and actually did make it through customs and FMK managed to avoid being put on any TSA watch list.
But through the winter months it has become clear that the coat, locked in a vault in our winter home (which also doubles as our summer home),had become lonely. It needed a companion. So last week we went out and got a dog. Like the coat, it has dubious papers, it is shaggy and curly, and it too seems to be alive. We got this wonderful dog up in Lake County, and upon reflection it may in fact, be more alive than almost anything else in Lake County. I know for a fact that it has less drugs in it than the general population up there.
So the Fabulous Miss K found Hilde (more on this name later) being recycled by a breeder and another owner who were done breeding her. A new home was necessary where she would be loved and have a European companion like the Fabulous Miss K’s coat. The European connection was important because Hilde is a French poodle. She is a standard size (meaning nobody every threw her into a hot washing machine), gray, 5-years old and out of her diapers. Frankly, I’m totally into the fact that she’s French. At first I was not happy about acquiring her since the Fabulous Miss K and I had been talking about moving overseas for a few months next year. But the cool thing is that with a French poodle you can take them and move to France and they will blend right in. In fact under French law (the Canine Repatriation Act) poodles are are allowed to move freely across their borders without papers, proof of vaccination, or quarantine. They have their own line at the immigration station at the airport.
In preparation for this trip abroad, which may or may not happen we’ve begun to immerse Hilde in French culture right here in Santa Rosa. We only feed her cassoulet and Alpeau. And in order to facilitate her natural functions I’m having a dog door installed so she can easily go outside. Rather than having the usual rectangular flap design I’m having French Dog Doors installed. Very nice. I think she’ll appreciate it.
Unfortunately, like every dog I’ve already owned this one came pre-named. And as usual the name sucks. Hilde is way too Teutonic for me. And it sounds much too prissy for a noble hunter like the one pictured above. What I’ve always wanted (but apparently never will get) is a dog named Larry. The problem is that Hilde is a girl, and secondly she’s been called Hilde all her life. Why do I want to call my dog Larry? Here’s why. My birthday is on Fourth of July, which means from the time I was born until I sent out my first resume I was called Sparky by everyone who knew me. So I just think it would be really cool if people could see me and my dog coming down the street and say, “Hey, here comes Larry and his person Sparky.” The Fabulous Miss K thinks that calling her Larry is incredibly stupid. She has proposed renaming her “Sylvie”. That is less sucky than Hilde, but it doesn’t make my inner fox trot. I’m not sure how this will turn out but I think I won’t prevail.
This reminds of another dog we used to know where we also had a naming problem. This dog was named “Bernie” when we first got him. The dog was a Bouvier de Flanders. They’re a huge breed from Belgium, used as cart dogs so they could haul chocolate, waffles, and beer around Bruges. They’re part Great Dane and part Wooly Mastadon. Anyway, Bernie was always sick with an auto-immune disease and spent most of his life with us at the vets. Eventually they built a new wing on the vets office and named it after him. But getting back to his name, “Bernie” would have been fine. Its as good, if not better, than Larry. The problem was my mother had just divorced a fellow named Bernie and I knew it wouldn’t work to be calling for Bernie and commanding him to sit and lay down and go outside while she visited. (My favorite dog command is “Go to Michigan.”) But the solution was simple for that. I just changed his name from “Bernie” to “Barney.” This was before that TV creature of the same name appeared. Anyway, “Barney” worked perfectly. The dog responded to all my reasonable commands. I’m convinced he just thought I had an accent, possibly a Croatian accent.
What people ALWAYS say
It should be noted that when you tell people you got a new poodle they ALWAYS say two things. The first is, “Is it a Rescue Dog? I have no idea when this craze about rescue dogs started. When I’m asked this question I immediately realize that people are less interested in the dog than they are in my moral character (which was a lost cause many many years ago). So although our dog does have some AKC papers (like I’m going to try to breed a dog that’s already been spayed) I have realized that it is impolitic to say our dog descended from the 1% who control the canine financial industry. So I sheepishly admit we got her from a breeder BUT her papers show that she descended from the only canine that survived the Titanic when it sunk. So she’s kind of a rescue dog, genetically anyway.
The second thing people always say is “A poodle… they’re so smart.” Now, admittedly this is better than them saying “A poodle… they’re so well coiffed.” But let’s be real. If you think any dog is smart you have relatively low standards. Dogs have a lot of great qualities and they deserve our love and care… but as a species they can’t do math, electronics, and they have no interest in the humanities. They’re just fine.