‘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’.
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.
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.
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.
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