What’s in a name?

In college, my goal in life was to retire to the beach and make a living building driftwood furniture. I would have a German Shepherd named Hank and we would walk along the water’s edge every morning and play fetch with a tennis ball.

Since this dream was so far away, I could ignore the obvious problems: dogs aren’t allowed on many beaches, I live in a landlocked state I am rather fond of, and I don’t know how to build furniture.

Retirement is much closer these days and while I sometimes joke about running away to build driftwood furniture, I still haven’t named one of my dogs Hank. Even as my dream evolves, for some reason I haven’t let go of the idea of a German Shepherd named Hank. That part of the dream will probably never happen.

First, one of my brothers-in-law has a related name and I feel vaguely concerned that he will think I don’t like him if I use that name for a dog. It could also get confusing at family gatherings. What if I just yell, “Hank. Sit!” or ask the dog to “heel”. The brother-in-law might find out how bossy I can actually be.

Second, I tend to have rescue dogs and I feel bad about changing their names. How many names has the poor pooch had? Can dogs have an identity crisis? This is why Percy is still Percy and not Yeti or Linus. When I moved school districts, the new place calls me something slightly different from what I was accustomed to and that was weird enough. I’ll just let someone else have the chore of coming up with a name.

My new retirement dream is starting to take shape. It still involves dogs. My plan is to make lots of quilts, volunteer with a rescue organization, call and harass my children a few times a week, and work as part of a therapy dog team. This is probably a more achievable dream given that the husband has banned me from power tools that cut and superglue. (I wouldn’t super glue the furniture together, but I might want to glue sea shells on a chair or something.)

There will definitely be at least one companion on four feet (or on three — I don’t mind canines who have been through some things). I sort of even hope s/he is a little terrible at times. It’ll keep me from missing teenagers!