Why do we give people, pets, inanimate objects and (shudder) body parts pet names? Aren’t the originals good enough? Or, maybe, the original wasn’t the right name in the first place….
I have always given my dogs nicknames, probably because I’ve never been good at naming things and, inevitably, get it wrong. We named our abbandonada (abandoned dog) Sedi. We liked the name Sadie but knew the Andorrans would pronounce it Sahdy so tried to get clever with the spelling. It worked, sort of – the Andorrans had no problem but all the English-speakers mispronounce it. As it turns out we rarely use the name anyway. Right from the beginning she became, affectionately, known as the ‘Bitch’. I mean, she was one, after all! The fact that she wouldn’t let the neighbors walk past our house to take their trash out had nothing to do with it. They soon learned the fine art of dog bribery – a slice of ham can go a long way towards winning a fickle dog-heart! Over the years ‘Brown Dog’ and ‘Sweetpea’ have been added to the list, but it wasn’t until Emma joined us that her true nature really started to show. In her attempt to maintain position as ‘top dog’ she had to put her paw down. Emma, was younger, prettier and bigger. Sedi decided that Emma couldn’t run or play ….. ever! Whenever Emma tried, Sedi snapped and snarled her into obedience. Thus her name ‘German Bitch’ (she is both). As they adjusted to each other, Sedi became worse. ‘Nazi Bitch’ was added to the list. Most recently, after a rather embarrassing incident with Emma’s former human, she became know as ‘Pointy-Nose’. And if one is standing in the doorway on a cold, rainy night screeching her lungs out calling her? She only answers to ‘Sweetpea’, naturally. The true test of a good dog name, I’ve decided, is the yell factor: you have to be able to scream the name, loudly and often, without embarrassing yourself. Think about it…..
Pretty Little Emma (as she was known to her former human) is the most loving, docile, obedient (unless chasing critters), devoted dog I have ever owned. Thus, she has very few nicknames. Her given name is Emma, Lady Hamilton. (She had brothers’ named Lord Nelson and Wellington) She is also know, by us, as ‘Emma the Poo’ or, more often, simply ‘Poo’ (not a good shouting name).
As for mon mari, I only have one or two ‘terms of endearment’ that are used on a regular basis. I do also have a list (rather lengthy, when given some thought) of other nicknames I use on such occasions as: the 4th time in 10 minutes he’s managed to blow a fuse (his router used to ‘do’ it); he’s sitting next to the ringing phone, calling me in from the garden to answer it; or I find a nice trail of mud and grass clippings through the entire house ’cause he forgot to take off his Wellies.
Here are a few of my favorite French ‘terms of endearment’:
Mon chou – translation: my cabbage, very popular
Ma puce – translation: my flea, popular for children
Ma biche – translation: my deer, meaning ‘my pet’