If the name fits, wear it by
(47 Stories)

Prompted By Naming Pets

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A litter of kittens frolicking in the California sun, named by my teenaged aunt Susan:  Peanuts, Schroeder, Linus and Charley Brown.

Left behind when his family moved, we inherited the tawny pai dog.  Feral and battle-scarred, a forever stray who one day vanished.  Bishkar.

Gray and white cat, clawing, meowing, rubbing, always knowing how to be just in the right/wrong place.  “Stop that, Zelda!”

My sister with Zelda

A marriage breakup left her stranded on the back patio in Pinole, a “pet-quality” Wheaten terrier, but she was perfect.  She bounded to greet me with little cloud paws around my neck; she was born on my birthday.  She learned about Oakland street noise and barked at hawkers of religious tracts.  She had been Buffy; we called her Buddy.

Me and Buddy 1983

The neighbors got a cocker spaniel, named Betty.  Betty Cocker??? Buddy and Betty side by side.

The dog trainer touted him as a charismatic standard schnauzer puppy whose person had died.  After being farmed out to ignorant relatives who kept him in a warehouse, he became “nutso”, but we didn’t know enough to see it.  Escape artist, wanderer, skittish PTSD dog, it took years to earn the trust in his searching deep brown eyes, as he laid his head on your knee.  From this miscreant with a long rap sheet, we learned how one can forgive an abuser, repeatedly.  He came as Eddie–but “Buddy, Betty and Eddie” was too much.  And so, Jack.  Jack the nipper.

Jack on his best day

Born on an Idaho farm, betrothed to a pipeline contractor’s dog, she was a red heeler, tail bobbed, a cattle herder by nature.  Serious, resourceful, smart, and an excellent mother, she whelped 9 puppies in one litter, all girls.  Xena, Gabrielle, Comet, Fran, Dot, Wink, Spot, L’il Cub, and Narf. A true gem, Ruby.

Ruby and her nine daughters

The rebellious sixth puppy was curious, quirky, a brilliant frisbee catcher, fiercely loyal and a badass with other dogs, including his mother, satisfied only when he became the sole dog in the house.  A marking over one eye and a pirate patch, Wink.

Puppy Wink 1996

Wink and Ruby

He was a stray, most likely cattle dog and pit bull, from rural Delano in California’s San Jaoquin Valley.  For two months, he was spared death in the animal facility, until a rescue group volunteer transported him in a light plane up to the Bay Area.  Wary, fearful of water fountains, keeping his own counsel, but mellow with other dogs, the street people called him “awesome”.

Delano animal shelter

Delivery by plane

We drove him to Canada where he met snow, stairs, stuffed animal toys to carry gently everywhere, and his beloved cattle dog girlfriend. Drive near her street and he stands alert.   On seeing her, bursting with joy, he leaps from the car, and they romp together, share toys, sleep in a heap, and start again.  Say her name and his ears prick up.  He is Joaquin. She is (what are the odds of this?) River.


River and Joaquin

Profile photo of Khati Hendry Khati Hendry

Characterizations: right on!, well written


  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    Great one, Khati. You’ve had your share of naming and re-naming all sorts of pets that you’ve owned, fostered, taken in for whatever reason. You give each such vivid personalities that we really understand why the name changes or why you did or did not keep them around. I absolutely love your last sentence.

    • Khati Hendry says:

      Thanks, Betsy. I enjoy the prompts as they give an excuse to think back on things I might have overlooked, dig out old pictures, and often learn something new in the process. I was surprised at how apt some names turned out to be!

  2. Laurie Levy says:

    Great pictures and names, Khati. I have two grand-dogs named Lucy and Schroeder. Both were rescues and Lucy came with the name so dog #2 had to adapt to his new, matching name. I love the name Zelda, but Biddy is a great dog name. Also Jack the Nipper — really clever. Ruby’s pups are so cute, and Wink is a great name for that dog. Finally, Joaquin and River — perfect! Thanks for sharing these stories and photos.

    • Khati Hendry says:

      Up here, hardly anyone can relate to the name Joaquin, since there is so little Spanish spoken, but once they hear Joaquin and River, they get it. Such a crazy coincidence, and they are indeed in (puppy?) love.

  3. John Shutkin says:

    Fantastic, Khati. What a lovely review of your pets and their naming (or re-naming). And you describe them all so beautifully in just a few poetic words — really brushstrokes. And delightful surprises with each new sentence!

  4. Marian says:

    Yes, wonderful stories, wonderful animals, Khati, each with its own unique personality. Love cattle dogs (a friend had one), and whose heart doesn’t melt over puppies?

    • Khati Hendry says:

      Cattle dogs are special indeed, but you have to struggle to stay smarter than they are, and you will never completely succeed. But you can’t let them be the boss of you. Unfortunately, many end up abandoned because the owners couldn’t figure this out. When we placed Ruby’s puppies, we did a lot of screening and ended up taking one of them back and finding a new home. The puppies were wonderful, and the closest to being a mother I have ever come.

  5. Suzy says:

    Khati, I’m delighted this prompt brought back so many great memories for you! And you have the pictures to go with them! Thanks for this romp through a lot of well-named animals.

  6. This is terrific, Khati. Clearly a kindred spirit. I completely identify with “adjusting” names to fit the personalities of the pups. So many great tales of tails!

  7. What wonderful stories and photos of your lifetime of pets Khati, and glad to see there was at least one pussycat in your life over the years!

    And so glad to hear that Ruby was betrothed and it would seem the shire of those pups had honorable intentions — even though he was a pipeline contractor’s pooch and thus I assume didn’t stick around too long!

    • Khati Hendry says:

      Ruby and Cub (the sire) hit it off quite well, and stayed friends for a bit, but the deal was that the pipeline guy would get the pick of the litter—and he didn’t end up taking any of them! We still enjoyed the puppy time, did take care with placing them to good homes, and Ruby only had the one litter. One pup ended up actually herding cattle on ranches and the guy who took her claimed she saved his life by running off a cow when he was on the ground. A credit to her breed.

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