And you can’t call your dog Thelonious. A story of how our puppy came to be
It’s a little over a year since our cockapoo puppy put in an appearance at Rosam Towers. We named him Thelonious, for Thelonious Monk, the jazz pianist. I’ll tell you more about that in a minute.
Dogs and Dave
I’m quite severely asthmatic. At my worst, life-threateningly so. I have had it all my life. I also love dogs, something I discovered in my 20s, after years of avoiding them.
It’s not just dogs that cause problems, either. It’s just about anything fluffy, furry or feathered. Case in point. When I was very young, my parents bought me a rabbit. It lived in a hutch in the shed, yet still, I was almost hospitalised after a few days.
So the rabbit had to go. I don’t know where, and I can only imagine how sad I felt.
Then we found out about poodle crosses
They’re hypoallergenic, we were told. The idea is the poodle in the cross makes the dog unlikely to trigger asthma attacks. I remembered decades ago, a small black poodle, typically caked with cow poo from herding the bovine monsters, that lived on my Aunt and Uncle’s farm in Ayrshire. I didn’t remember reacting to it.
Maybe there was something to it. Indeed, did we want a poodle? Somehow, we didn’t. But poodle crosses might appeal. I embarked on what was to become three years of Stroking Other People’s Dogs. I made notes on which ones caused a reaction and which breeds were worth further investigation.
Choosing a name
A dog-naming session fuelled by a bottle of wine, one evening, had me considering some left of field ideas. He (or she) wasn’t going to be called Buddy (or any of the others in the UK Top 10 dog’s names). Imagine calling your dog back and getting 26 salivating hounds vying for the solitary treat held between your tender outstretched fingers.
I wanted something special. Something that would stand out. You can tell I’ve been lumbered with David — there were once five of us in the same class at school, FFS! And, as you’ve probably guessed, I’m a jazz fan, and I soon landed amongst the Mileses, Dukes, Sonnies and Coltranes. Coming to think of it, Buddy could have been named after Buddy Rich, but we’re not going there. Oh, no.
You can’t call a dog Thelonious!
‘Thelonious is a great name for a dog!’ I said. ‘You can’t call a dog Thelonious!’, retorted my wife. It became a running joke as I continued my canine allergy testing. I referred to the dog that we were, by then, going to purchase as Thelonious.
I knew I’d won when Sam started referring to the puppy as Thelonious. We’d have to get a male ;-)
He arrived in November 2018 as a generous Christmas present from my mother-in-law. Things haven’t been the same since.
At that time, some friends told us: Don’t change your life; Don’t let the dog change your life or any number of variations. Their argument seems to be that the dog is there to add to your life. It’s all to be giving on the part of the dog. You’re not to sacrifice anything for it — except for buying, feeding and keeping it well, that is ;-). The dog is purely there to enhance your life.
Some of them are dog owners, too.
Of course, a dog changes your life!
Why the heck would you want one, otherwise? Is it an accessory? A security device? Something to produce manure for the garden? A persistent source of noise to annoy the neighbours? Something to feed your leftovers to, in a fit of societal guilt over food waste?
A dog is not a fur baby (yuck!), but something equally important to our small family.
Why does he make me laugh?
Thelonious makes me laugh. Just by being him. When I’m feeling fed up with the world, a bump from the wet nose and a nuzzle can’t help but raise me from the depths. How can you not laugh at his walk? A kind of tippy-toed, waddly, crab motion with more athleticism than that picture gives him credit for.
He creeps upstairs and into my office when I’m working, sliding past my chair, under my desk, over my feet, and out again. Then to the landing and downstairs once more. Dogs are strange things.
I’m in love. And so is Sam.
He gets an introvert talking
There’s a reason I work on my own. I like it. I have many introvert traits, and am unlikely to talk strangers in the street. Try keeping yourself to yourself when you have a fluffy, teddy bear of a cockapoo on the end of a lead.
Everyone wants to stroke him (slight exaggeration, but I avoid walking down our local high street during shopping hours because progress is so slow), ask his name (‘that’s posh’, some say, wrongly), how old he is, how often we have him groomed… I have to chat. Like it or not.
And he has a fan club
There are the friends who want to look after him and walk him. The neighbours who fret when they don’t see him. And the kids who call out to Waffle Doggie, when the programme is on one of the children’s TV channels.
No. Don’t let your dog change your life. Not if you don’t like struggling uphill against the flow.
And, yes, you can! Call a dog Thelonious, that is.