“Swim, Sandy, swim!”


‘Equal time for dogs’

My Porn Star Name is ‘Sandy Peterson’. In honor of Sandy the Dog, the beloved Pet of My Youth, pictured above in a moment of not-unusual adorableness.

But before we get to Sandy, a quick word about that word game. Maybe you played it too. It’s the one where you take the name of your beloved pet, add your mother’s maiden name, and, voila!, you’ve got your Porn Star Name. (The Child’s is ‘Tuna Henry’.)

I must admit ours are pretty tame. Over wine at my dining room table I’ve heard some easy-to-imagine-clad-in-fishnets doozies: ‘Pinky Parker’, ‘Missy Goodbody’. Though the Dude’s is ‘Duffy Miltner Flockmaster Cromartie’, which is pretty darned racy.

But back to pets, which is the point of this piece. A couple of weeks ago I waxed nostalgic about felines of yore in ‘The Cat Who Ran Away from Home and Broke My Heart’.

I finally found a picture of me with Aunt Marilyn’s Herkimer, the first cat I adored. And tortured with two-year-old abandon

And now the it’s time for the dogs. I say ‘dogs’ because, over the years, we had more than one canine pet. But I really should say ‘dog’ because there really was just one favorite (sorry Herman). And that was Sandy.

Before I get to Sandy, here’s Herman, AKA Hermie, competing for table scraps with Middle Younger Brother Roger as Oldest Younger Brother Scott looks on in fascination

Herman was a dachshund we had before Sandy. He was quite wonderful — he even had a pedigree, not that we cared. But he didn’t have a chance to make a major imprint on my memory, mainly because he wasn’t around all that long. He met an unfortunate and untimely end when he abandoned a perfectly-good ham bone to run out into the street.

Sandy doing her Happy Dance around us kids. At Easter, I’m thinking, seeing the dressy duds we’re wearing

So. Sandy. I’m a little foggy on the details about how we got her. I seem to remember that some colleague of my Dad’s at his engineering firm in Memphis moved into an apartment that wouldn’t take dogs, so he had to give her away. (Sorry; that would be a total deal-breaker for me. ‘Don’t take my pet? Then, um, don’t take me.’) But I was just a kid — what did I know about grownups and their choices?

At any rate, we were the lucky ones who got Sandy. She was named ‘Sandra’ when we got her, but we thought that was entirely too fancy for a dog, so ‘Sandy’ it was. Which caused difficulties when our cousin, also named ‘Sandy’, would visit. I remember that she was not flattered at all that a dog shared her name. Even when we explained that ‘Sandy’ was ‘Sandy’ before she was ‘Sandy’. Cousin Sandy just cried.

Sandy Dog did all the requisite Great Dog Stuff like play with us and let us pet her, and she also did cool sort-of-idiosyncratic things like get really excited and crawl on her belly when we kids would shout ‘Swim, Sandy, Swim!’ Speaking of shouting, I remember we kids used to show off with a sort-of-mean trick where we’d say nice words (like ‘Sandy’s such a pretty dog’) in a stern voice or stern words (like ‘Bad dog!’) in a sweet voice — to make her alternately cringe or dog-laugh in delight. Poor Sandy. We thought we were so sophisticated.

Oh, and Sandy would sleep with us. Unless there was a babysitter, in which case she’d station herself in the doorway of our room and growl when the poor sitter tried to come in and check on us.

She was such a Great Dog that she even got along with our cat. (The ‘Kitty’ of the aforementioned kitty piece from a couple of weeks ago.) Sandy and Kitty took naps together, with Kitty nestled into Sandy’s fur like it was a big old sheepskin cat bed. And they’d sit together on our porch, shoulder to shoulder (Kitty was a big cat), watching the traffic go by on Highway 50.

I don’t have a picture of Sandy and Kitty together, so I’ll recycle this one

Sandy was around a long long time. So long that I was spared the trauma of saying good-bye to her, since I was at college when she got so old and creaky that my Mom had to have her ‘put to sleep’. After Sandy, I remember they got a cocker spaniel named (by my humorous Middle Younger Brother Roger) ‘Joe’. (‘Cocker’, get it?) He was very nice and affectionate, but according to my Dad, the Stupidest Dog on the Planet.

My Youngest Brother Doug also wanted ‘his own dog’ and got one, named ‘Bonnie’. I honestly don’t remember anything about her. Doug? And, of course, there was ‘Simon’, another dachshund who was the canine half of ‘Simon and Schuster’, also written about in my Cat Piece. There was even ‘Horrible’, a hunting dog who lived outside in a nasty fenced-in area called The Dog Pen. (He liked it.)

All these dogs had their days when I was grown-up and gone. So it’s Sandy who will always be The Dog of My Youth. I can just picture her up there in the Great Pet Beyond ‘swimming’ away, and watching the traffic go by with good ole Kitty.

Yes, I’m going to wrap this up, but I just remembered another Name Game. This one is where you get your Writer Name — your Nom de Plume or ‘pen name’ —  by combining your middle name with the name of the street where you grew up. Mine’s ‘Celia Livingstone’. Which is even classier than ‘LutheranLiar’.

Amagansett, New York. May 2017

12 thoughts on ““Swim, Sandy, swim!”

    • Yup. Try it; it’s fun! Good to do after dinner with a bunch of family and/or friends. You can also try the ole pet name/mom’s maiden name game. Oh, and thanks for commenting!

  1. 'Sandy'

    Well I am honored to be talked about in your blog! And yes Sandy brought a lot of tears to me ‘back in the day’ when I was traumatized having the same name as her. Now it is an honor because you must think of me when you think of her! Wow! Thank you cuz……. love you.. it’s me: Tippy Henry …. or shall I be Kay Scout? Hmmmmmm

    • Thank you so much, Original Sandy! So great to hear from you, and to realize that you turned out to be pretty darned swell even with the trauma of sharing our dog’s name (!) So glad this piece brought back some good memories. And yes, when I think of cute sweet Sandy Dog, I invariably think of cute sweet Tippy Henry. Er, Kay Scout. xoxo!!!

  2. Before I was old enough to appreciate her, my family had Joker, a German shepherd mix that could open the back door by herself. Then we had Brutus, another mongrel, who distinguished himself by stealing an entire roast off the counter and downing it before my mother could stop him. I went to a school chum’s 12th b.d. Party and “won” a door prize, Mamselle, a Sheltie mix, who became my mother’s shadow, after a fashion. Always dogs. My dad was “allergic” to cats, so they claimed. Porn name Mamselle Stratford, and I kinda like my writer’s name, Anne Durbin.

    • Wow! Great names, Cele! And your childhood dogs sound special indeed. The whole-roast-beef story reminds me of one of The Dude’s childhood dogs, who once slurped two sticks of butter off a countertop (left there to soften for use in a cake). Boy, did that dog get SICK. Funny how people who don’t like cats claim to be “allergic”. Oh well. We know that life without either is less than purrfect — and would drive us barking mad (!)

  3. I had a cocker spaniel and he was not terribly bright but the sweetest dog. So Jasper Brinn is my not very porn name. But Diane Blair, my nom de plume, is pretty classy. Sandy was a pretty dog, too, Alice. You forgot to mention that.

    • Yes, indeed, Judy. Sandy was a very pretty dog. Part Spitz, hence the fanlike tail. She had the sweetest doggie face. Sigh. My dad used to say that cocker spaniels, like British royalty, were too inbred, hence their lack of, shall we say, intellect. But Joe was an awfully nice dog. Speaking of Brits, Jasper Brinn sounds more like a star of the West End or a PBS mini-series. And yes, Diane Blair is classy indeed (!)

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