A dog by any other name…

For the past week, I’ve had this silly snatch of a song stuck in my head:

We could call him Tiger…
But there’s no bite in him!
Tiger?! PFFFT! Kittens would frighten him!
Rover? Why don’t you think it over?
Rover is the perfect name for this dumb looking dog.
Sandy. Sandy’s his name
If you please!
If you don’t believe me
Ask any one of the fleas…

If you’re also a child of the Eighties, you might recognise this as a song from the musical film Annie. And, in particular, the bit where the orphan girls smuggle in a stray dog and work out how they are going to keep him.

I don’t know any of the other words but, strangely enough, can picture the snippet of the movie really clearly.

It’s surely annoying.

But I can’t help but think that there’s something in it.

(And maybe: the quicker I figure it out, it’ll go away!)

On Mothers Day, my daughter and I spent a short spell in the afternoon making encaustic art. The hound shown above appeared to me, quite unannounced.

He feels calm, patient, loyal. Wistful, maybe? Alert, certainly. Poised. Waiting.

My name is Kat and I am not a dog person.

I wonder if I am meant to notice just how easy it is to name people.

My three year old son, for instance. He is different from his sister and his cousin who is the same age, both of whom were early talkers and incredibly articulate for their age. It seems to be difficult for most of us not to compare them and even harder not to lapse into assumptions based on gender. I’ve started to receive suggestions and recommendations based on what his future abilities might be.

While I am prepared to do anything he needs to support his development, I reject all pathologising out of hand. He’s who is he. And he has made it clear — since before day dot — that he follows no one’s timeline but his own.

That’s not to say I do not find it triggering. A mum who finds her child’s behaviour baffling? Incomprehensible. A mum who is not doing enough to get to the bottom of it all? Reprehensible!

This boy is sunshine. And cheeky humour. And astonishing memory. He reenacts experience through dance. And swallows his tears. And could eat pizza for every meal, if we’d let him.

He gives the best cuddles. And drives me insane when he insists on dipping his hands in the dog trough in the park for the eight thousandth time.

In those moments, I find it excruciating to be seen. A mum who finds her child’s behaviour bloody annoying? Unforgivable.

And yet. Here he is. Loving and loyal. Exuberantly and unapologetically himself. And oblivious to any names we might give him.

He was named for my paternal grandfather and coincidentally (or, rather, intuitively) for the Autumn harvest festival that precedes his birthday. Etymologically, he is a lion. His epithets mean: bringer of light; long-armed warrior; skilled in many arts; “hound son”.

He’s my boy.