Save the Bones for Henry Jones by
50
(54 Stories)

Prompted By Naming Pets

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Henry Jones.  Our family’s first (and only) dog as my sisters and I were growing up.. Named for the title “character” of the song that prompts my title, first recorded by Johnny Mercer and the King Cole Trio in 1947.*  “Save the bones for Henry Jones ‘cause Henry don’t eat no meat.” I had to be no more than a toddler because I don’t have any memory of him.  Sisters Suzie and Barbara, just one and two years older, have no real memories, either.  Henry Jones was a dachshund, a wiener dog.  What were my parents thinking?  Small dogs and small children do not belong together.  Neither of my parents had any experience with dogs; Mom never had pets and the only pet Dad talked about was a parrot they called Jack.  Until Jack laid an egg.  According to Mom, my sisters and I loved Henry Jones to death, almost literally.  We’d pick him up and give him well-meant squeezes.  Apparently, Henry Jones began to act out to the point that Mom and Dad took him to Live With the Farmer on the Farm.

My younger son was in nursery school at the time and his best buddy, Dugan, thought her name was “Fleabee”, to the amusement of us all.

Naming pets. This could have been a “pet peeve” story.

Starting with my parents.  A first and last name?  After a song?  What were they thinking (WWTT)? I hate that kind of cutesie stuff.  Like the story, probably apocryphal, told by first wife, of a friend who named her cats “Hey You!” and “Who, Me?”.  Seriously?  As if she was going to be calling them in for supper, or something like that?  C’mon.  They’re cats.

I am a dog person. Exclusively. Over the years I have had many dogs, most of which were transients during my dog rescue years.  But some of my own, too, both before and after. Sometimes dogs already have names when they come into our lives.  Like Stitch, my first. Stitch was a yellow Lab who we got as a seven-month-old. He was one of a litter of fifteen.  While the litter was still nursing one day his mom was disturbed by something and stood, accidentally stepping on one of the brood.  The wound required sutures.  I don’t know whether the breeder named any of the others, but they decided they would foster this one for a bit to see if he was all right so they named him.  “Stitch” was an obvious choice.  When we got him we never even considered changing his name.  Not a great “call” name, but it fit him.

Upon his demise, about ten years later, I was reluctant to have another.  But I was persuaded otherwise, subject to my stipulation that I had naming rights.  Our new pup, at ten weeks, was a black Lab from the same breeder as Stitch.  My choice?  “Phoebe”.**  Perfect call name: two syllables, two long vowels.  And she just seemed like a Phoebe.  Whatever that means. My younger son was in nursery school at the time and his best buddy, Dugan, thought her name was “Fleabee”, to the amusement of us all.

And on to the Maremma era.  “Tino”, another great call name.  And “Lena”.  After my third wife’s maternal grandmother.  Her sisters were aghast. Tough.

Then rescue.  Sometimes it seemed that there was a connection between WWTT names and the likelihood of winding up in rescue.  “Donovan”.  For a dog?  Donovan already was at least tentatively placed when we picked him up but I couldn’t let him go.  Pulling at the leash he revealed a rather geeky neck that reminded me of a cherished stuffed animal from my youth.  He became Little Bear.

Bady.  Rhymes with “lady”.  Another foster situation that turned permanent.  Bady came from a family on Staten Island, emigres from Albania.  The patriarch of the family, terminally ill, wanted a dog for his wife and children who would serve as a protector and companion.  But Staten Island is no place for a dog that needs open spaces.  “Bady” was a good call name.  I understand it is Arabian in origin and means “wonderful man”.  A good fit.  Besides, he didn’t speak English so “Bady” it stayed.

Molly.  I love the name.  Another rescue/intended foster that turned permanent.  She came as “Isis”, which I thought was a perfectly stupid name.  Not quite of the WWTT category, but still.  But turns out Lord Grantham of Downtown Abbey’s original dog was also an Isis.  But ours wasn’t.  She was headstrong and impulsive.  And “Molly” fit, because when her antics prompted shoulder shrugging and a whaddya gonna do reaction it was a perfect word for mutterings of exasperation.

The puppies.  After the travails of rescue, we thought we had earned a fresh start.  The breeders were of a gentlemen farmer ilk and this was their first attempt.  A litter of three.  The sire and dam, their dogs, were Fettucine and Biscotti. Really.  WWTT? We fairly quickly decided to obtain two of the pups, the male and one of the two females.  The breeders hung on to the one they considered the pick of the litter.  Who they named Sabine.  As the Martians would say, nope, nope, nope, nope, nope.  But what to do with ours?

The female was the easier task.  She was on the headstrong side, but way short of Molly.  Lola!  Of course.  As in Damn Yankees.  Whatever Lola wants . . .

But the male.  Hmmm.  Then inspiration.  I wondered what the Italian word for male puppy was.  Ah.  Cucciolo.  Ciolo for short.  Perfect for my puppy boy.

——–

* Yes, the “King Cole Trio” featured Nat King Cole.  This is a cover: https://youtu.be/IAuzMXoZI0g

** Her full registered name was Blackmor’s Phoebe Snow.  After the Erie Lackawanna train of my youth, not the singer. But that’s another story.

Profile photo of Tom Steenburg Tom Steenburg
Retired attorney and investment management executive. I believe in life, liberty with accountability and the relentless pursuit of whimsy.


Characterizations: funny, right on!, well written

Comments

  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    My goodness, Tom, you’ve had lots of dogs to name, rescue, foster, take care of, call (love those long vowel sounds for calling). And so many names, if not always yours to choose. How did you remember them all? The two most current are very cute; both the names and the dogs!

  2. Laurie Levy says:

    Bless you, Tom, for rescuing so many dogs. I never thought about what a pet’s name sounds like when you call it. Aside from Katerina, who we called Bertie eventually, most of the dogs and cats in our lives had very callable names. Love the names you gave your dogs. Super creative and not too dorky.

    • Thanks, Laurie. There’s actually a bit of science to this. Dogs respond well to two-syllable names with two long vowels and “hard” consonants: that’s why “Tino” and “Phoebe” were great names. I also discovered in dealing with rescue animals that calling with a two-tone pitch, high/low worked best. I used to test for whistle training the same way, and the high/low combination got the best response.

  3. John Shutkin says:

    You’ve rescued so many dogs that maybe we should start calling you St. Thomas. Really impressive. As are all of these names you have had something to do with.

    That said, I must admit that my favorite is Henry Jones, both becasue of its backstory and because it is two names. That affectation (in a good sense) is also why Charlie Brown was my favorite Peanuts character.

    Thanks for sharing all these stories, Tom. And I have a sense that each story is also just a thread into a bunch more of interesting stories.

  4. Khati Hendry says:

    The black dog named Phoebe–there is a black bird flycatcher called a phoebe, so maybe you were channeling that with the name. I can relate to the Lola name–we named our car GPS female voice after her too–whatever Lola wants etc. This was a fun read–thanks for sharing the dogs and the stories.

    • Thanks, Khati. Re “Phoebe”: definitely not the bird; Phoebe was a black Lab, as black as coal. Where I grew up was in NYS just north of central PA, where anthracite coal was mined. Anthracite is harder and burns cleaner than the bituminous coal mined in western PA. The railroad line that became the Erie Lackawanna used anthracite exclusively for their steam trains and touted it, calling themselves the Road of Anthracite. They developed an ad campaign featuring a fictional character, Phoebe Snow, who proclaimed “My gown stays white from morn till night upon the Road of Anthracite.” That’s my Phoebe reference.

  5. Marian says:

    Never thought about the way a name sounds when it’s called, Tom, I’ll remember that. Come to think of it, a friend of mine who rescues dogs (and has kept several) always uses two-syllable names that “call” well. Guess she knows something.

  6. Suzy says:

    Interesting story, Tom, and for the most part I appreciate the names you’ve chosen and the reasons for them. But I have to say that as the mother of a human named Molly, I HATE that you (and lots of other people) think it is a good name for a dog. Why not Holly or Polly instead? Or, like John’s dog, how about Collie? I am launching a campaign against the name Molly for dogs!

    • I apologize for treading on your sensibility, Suzy, but I’ll plead my case. As I mentioned I absolutely love the name Molly; what’s more, there is absolutely no disrespect intended. Indeed “my” Molly became Molly because she was forthright, fearless, intrepid, completely engaged, and thoroughly excited about just living. She was a wonder to behold. Simply put, she was what a Molly is to me.

    • John Shutkin says:

      Suzy — Dare I suggest you name your campaign “Mollycoddling”?

  7. Khati Hendry says:

    Wow, that is a reference I never heard of before—anthracite vs bituminous coal with an ad campaign with Phoebe! And here I thought Phoebe Snow was a jazz singer (“Teach me tonight”). Or maybe I remember the name wrong.

  8. Khati Hendry says:

    You never know what you will learn from these posts. Thanks for the enlightenment.

  9. Great fun to learn about all your dogs and their call names, Tom and of course your rescue efforts!

    I had a wonderful childhood dog who I named Fluffy when my father referred to her as a ball of fluff. And then throughout my life, a succession of beloved cats. Of course all the cats had names – Jinx, Ginger, Espee, Smokey, Lucy Gray, Nino (named for a pizza place), and Jackie Robinson.

    But of course naming cats is actually a useless endeavor because – altho cats do know their names – they invariably choose not to answer when you call!

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