While the three of us are sitting outside in the backyard trying to come up with a name for the puppy, she asks, “Why do I need a name? What is it?”
“It’s what people call you when they want to get your attention,” I say.
“Maybe I don’t want to give my attention to any people. They’ll just grab me when I squat.”
“They also use your name when they want to tell someone about you,” Fleegle says.
“Oh, I get it, like when I tell you, food breath, that we should steal the biscuit man’s biscuits and cut out the middleman.”
“Um… I guess so,” Fleegle says. “But I don’t know why you’d want to do that.”
“Before you choose a name, I’d like to make an observation,” I say.
The puppy looks up at me and tilts her head to the side. “The biscuit man speaks, I still can’t get over that.”
“What is it, Raud? Observe away,” Fleegle says, glancing skyward. “Just as long as it’s not about your higher self.”
“Well, I’ve noticed that people and animals often become like their names. Over time they take on whatever qualities are associated with their names. A friendly name often leads to a friendly personality and a mean name often leads to a meanie.”
It’s Fleegle’s turn to tilt his head at me. “And you named me after the handlebars on your fat bike because you wanted me to be like them? How so? Because if you want me to be all shiny and curvy you’re going to have to feed me a lot more fish oil and donuts.” He tilts his head to the other side. “Are there fish oil donuts?”
“You can’t ride a bicycle without handlebars,” I say. “And aren’t you always saying I’d get lost the moment I stepped out the door without you?”
“Being able to steer does make people happy. Look at all those people on the bus who don’t get to steer. They rarely look happy. They’d be a lot happier with dogs to steer them around and show them all the good spots to pee.”
The puppy barks in frustration. “But what does all that mean?”
“It means that we’re not going to name you after Lizzie Boren or the Queen of Hearts.”
“Or Luna because that’ll be short for lunatic,” Fleegle says. “But what about George?”
“Your chicken, Georgia, that is now a rooster, is named George,” I say. “Besides, George is a boy’s name.”
“But what if like my chicken the puppy turns into a boy in a few weeks? This way we’ve got it covered.”
“Hedging your bets, eh? I think you’re safe in that department this time.”
The puppy gets up and waddles across the lawn toward the bamboo. “I’m not George, food breath. You can be George if you want. I’ll call you food breath George.”
“But I’m Fleegle.”
“I think I’ll choose my own name,” she says as she slips into the bamboo out of sight.
When she emerges, she asks, “You say you become your name?”
I nod. “That’s the theory.”
“Then my name is going to be Franny.”
“Ooo, I like that,” Fleegle says. “It goes well with George, Franny-George.”
“So Franny it is, Franny.”
“But why Franny?” Fleegle asks.
She sits down again. “Because I want to live to be an old lady and smell like flowers all the time.”
Fleegle wags his tail. “I know where there’s some bird poop that smells like flowers. Do you want to go roll in it with me?”