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Choosing a Sunday Name

Ramblings of a collie-flower

In February 2001 things were moving apace and Anna Dieckfoss was persuaded to enter her first show in April. Before she could, however, she needed to register her dog Skye with The Kennel Club. Skye was just two years old then but a bit of a star. She put paw to paper and this is what she wrote, edited by Anna!

Things are moving on apace - rather too much ‘on apace’ for Anna -I’ve been told I’m to be entering my first show in April, and to this end it seems I must be registered with something called ‘The Kennel Club.’

Before I go any further, could someone explain the meaning of ‘kennel?' I’m extremely familiar with ‘sofa,' and can thoroughly recommend ‘double-bed-with-duvet’ when I get the chance, but ‘kennel’ is most definitely an alien concept.

Anyway, for this to happen, I apparently need a posh 'Sunday name,' the longer and more obscure the better. Anna searched the imagination department of her brain, and on finding it wanting, proceeded to arm herself with an assortment of plant and seed catalogues. She’d decided that as I work in forestry, I should be named after something of a vegetable nature. I might add that I’m really quite happy with my bona fide* name, but I don’t have a vote here. (* That should be spelt ‘bone Fido’, really. It’s Latin for ‘good dog’, ‘beautiful dog’, or ‘give the dog a bone’----can’t remember which at the moment.)

So followed a very strange evening
She made herself comfortable in the armchair, bottle of wine and glass by her side - to give her inspiration, she said, but she doesn’t normally need an excuse! Thereafter, my play/ sleep/ thought/ chew processes were routinely interrupted by such inane remarks as, 'Wag your tail if you’d like to be Erica Pink Spangles,' and, 'How would you like to be Tom Thumb Mixed or Larkspur Dwarf Rocket?' One or two suggestions were quite apt, actually. Parsnip Lancer, for example, is ‘extremely resistant to canker’, which is something I think we dogs can get in our ears, isn’t it? Another one was a ground cover plant, and I’m good at that, especially when I engage fifth gear and 4-wheel drive.

Pink, lavender, violet and white. Easily grown border annuals often used in summer arrangements. Slender stems of flowers in beautiful blending colours. Attracts butterflies.
Larkspur Dwarf Rocket

At some point during the evening, I began to realise that her level of stupidity rose in direct proportion to the drop in level of the wine in the bottle, much in the same way that my olfactory senses diminish in relation to the level of deafness I select on the agility training course. I’m fond of my little treat rewards but sometimes you could wave a whole roast chicken under my nose without being able to deter me from my mission, which is usually to impede another dog’s progress, or go on a forbidden obstacle, but that’s another story.

Cauliflower 'All the Year Round'
Cauliflower Lateman

Pumpkin Atlantic Giant

No common or garden name
The vegetable section of the seed catalogue provided the most amusement for her. Onion Shakespeare, Pumpkin Atlantic Giant and Pea Show Perfection were some names suggested for me. I’m glad I’m a bitch rather than a dog, as King Edward Potato and Cauliflower Lateman were also rolled around the tongue, metaphorically speaking. The hysteria reached a climax when she found a string bean (one of my nicknames) called Masterpiece Green Longpod. The tears were running down her face by this time.

To digress a bit, when we reached the wildflower section, she actually had the temerity to say, 'That’s a nice name… when I get a cat, I think I’ll call it Teasel.' If, being the operative word, I allow a cat in here, I think I’ll call it Dog’s Dinner; after all, if it didn’t like it, it wouldn’t have to put up with it for long, would it? (Between you and me, I don’t mind cats, though I haven’t met many, but I can’t admit that in public as I have a fearsome reputation to maintain.) In all fairness to Anna, she has encouraged me from puppy hood to respect all other living creatures, although she did blot her copybook once by asking me to eat a spider that was running across the floor. I refused point blank…. If I’m not allowed to chase rabbits and eat them, then why should I obliterate a spider just because she doesn’t like them? Besides, they’ve got double the amount of legs than is strictly necessary and I’m not sure how to pick them up.

I really am extremely kind to other living creatures, though. For example, I assist the squirrels in the woods in their attempts to beat the world tree-climbing record. When I’m having a good old gossip with my mates in the Obedience (!) class, I break off immediately a new dog comes in and make him very welcome. I curl my lips right back to show him my full set of pearly whites and demonstrate how quickly I can make the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

In the days of my extreme youth, I patiently tried to convince the milkman at work that his float would be more aerodynamically efficient if I removed his mud flaps as he passed, but he seemed strangely resistant to the idea. In fact, both he and Anna actively discouraged it in no uncertain terms. That’s all the thanks I got for trying to be helpful. Come to think of it, whether said milkman could be classed as a ‘living creature’ is a moot point.

Editor’s note: Unusually, I am in total agreement with Skye on this one!

Wandered off the subject again.
Every time she mentioned Masterpiece Green Longpod, she would laugh all the more. Eventually, I begged to go out in a bid to escape. I trotted off down the garden for some peace and quiet, and to add to my ongoing, ever more complex pattern of brown circles on the grass, but was there any respite? NO! Through the darkness came a cry from the doorstep—'Hey, how d’you fancy Nepeta Hederifolia Variegata?' Quite a mouthful after a bottle of supermarket plonk, and no, I didn’t fancy it at all.

Excellent length and table quality. A fine green seeded Broad Bean and also excellent for deep freezing. Award of Garden Merit. Sow February-March. Packet sufficient for a double row of approximately 3.8m (12˝') (12-16 weeks maturity).
Masterpiece Green Longpod

At this point, thankfully, she staggered off for a bath. I decided to forgo my nightly duties of snapping at the bubbles and stealing the nailbrush and took myself off to bed (hers) complete with seed catalogue. What’s good enough for four legs is good enough for two, I thought to myself and looked for a suitable name for her Kennel Club registration. I didn’t have to study it for long. There’s a broad bean (one of her nicknames) called Aquadulce; according to the blurb, it’s 'slow to mature.' I rest my case.

I understand she now has a shortlist of four, which she has to submit in order of preference. I hope Masterpiece Green Longpod isn’t amongst them. I refuse to sound like one of Robin Hood’s merry men. In retrospect, perhaps I should be more tolerant of Anna’s eccentricities. After all, the exercise did afford her much amusement. She often says that all she wants is for me to be happy and, really, that is all I want for her. And if shrieking with laughter at plant names is all it takes, then so be it.


Genista Lydia

Editor’s Note: Shortly after this was written, a letter from The Kennel Club confirmed her registered name as Genista Lydia, a flowering shrub! It hasn’t warranted any adverse comments from Skye, so I presume it has passed muster.

After all was cut and dried, I did rather regret not settling on Onion Shakespeare. It has a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ I think, and I feel slightly wistful that I won’t ever have the chance to hear it ringing round a showground over the tannoy system!

Skye is also a poet. To read her 'Conversations at Dundee' go to Poetry in Motion