Why aren’t dogs named Shannon anymore?
The bimbo yellow Lab next door was named Shannon. I know this because my entire childhood was spent listening to myriad voices screaming, “Shannon! Get back! Shannon, come! Shannon, heel! Shannon, don’t eat that squirrel! Shannon, dig a hole for that squirrel you just killed!”
I hated Shannon. So did my dog, a Portuguese water dog named Teddy. Shannon and Teddy had nothing in common. Shannon was energetic, friendly and dumb as a dodo. Teddy was smart and moody and demanded you earn his attention. But they both had one thing in common: a normal dog name.
Shannon was one of two dogs named Shannon. In the early ‘90s, their name was basically the Jessica or Jennifer of every fourth-grade classroom. And Teddy, short for Teddybear, was just as common among canines. Two of my best friends had dogs named Teddy; another friend had a dog named Bear.
The other neighborhood pets included Max, Fluffy, Rascal, Ginger, Buddy, Maggie and Kitty. And yes, Kitty was a kitty. Oh, how we mocked Cutie Pie when she came home from the pet store. “Cutie Pie? What kind of dog is named Cutie Pie?” we railed.
A dog ahead of its time, that’s what kind of dog.
Last night, while I was teaching my class on writing for children, one of my students said she wanted to name her main character after her own dog and asked whether I saw a problem with that. I said probably not and asked to hear the dog’s name.
Crisscross Applesauce Lemon Squash Peppermint Floss.
“What?” I asked.
She smiled and repeated, slowly, “Criss. Cross. Apple. Sauce. Lem. Mon. Squash. Pep. Per. Mint. Floss.”
“Right. But what do you call her?”
Of course. No nicknames allowed in the land of weird dog names. And good ol’ Flossy, as I like to call her, is only the latest tongue twister to come out of a long line of loquacious dog owners.
Lately, I have not met a single Shannon or Teddy or Fluffy. In their place have been Moonstruck Cupcake, Thunder Boom Boom, and Twitchy Kevin. I recently met a Boston terrier named Greg and immediately said to the owner, “Wow! A single-syllable dog name!” She looked at me, straight-faced, and said, “It’s short for Gregasaurus ComingThisWay.”
Of course it is.
I blame “How I Met Your Mother.” When the characters Lily and Marshall decided to give their son the middle name Wait-for-it, they made full-sentence names into a thing. Sure, Marvin Wait-for-it Eriksen may be a cute fictional on-screen character name, but if I ever have to dog-sit for Cheese-Puffs-Are-Better-Than-Cheez-Doodles or Carolina-Springboard-Loves-Piano-More-Than-Earl, I’m going to need to buy an inhaler to get through saying their names. Also, poor Earl! Who is this Earl? And why does he deserve to be defamed in this way?
At first, I thought the obscure pet names were a Hollywood thing, but then I moved out of Hollywood. So then I thought it was a living-in-the-wild thing, but even my friend in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., has a four-legged loved one named Holly Bo-Bolly McMolly Is Not Tall-ee.
Uncommon names are cool. I have an uncommon name. My kids have uncommon names. My rabbit, Pig, has an uncommon name. But is there really anything so wrong with naming your Chihuahua Sally? Can’t the hipsters do us a solid and take back the names Fluffy and Scruffy just to be ironic? Isn’t that their thing, to trailblaze us back into yesteryear, when things made a tad more sense and pants were a tad too loose? Where, oh where, is the great micro-mustachioed wisdom of the hipster millennial to set us straight from our sentence-structure naming obsession?
I’m not asking for much in life, just nicknames! Texting an anecdote about your precocious pup Holly Bo-Bolly McMolly Is Not Tall-ee would be a whole lot faster if you just typed “Holly.” Nicknames, people! Nicknames. Or — here’s a crazy idea — actually just name your dog Holly.
“Katie! Come over here right now!” I heard my new next-door neighbor yell angrily. I ran over to her and asked, “What’s wrong?”
“Oh,” she said, a little embarrassed, “I meant my dog Katie.”
Crisscross Applesauce Lemon Squash Peppermint Floss is growing on me.
Katiedid Langrock is author of the book “Stop Farting in the Pyramids,” available at www.creators.com/books/stop-farting-in-the-pyramids. Like Katiedid Langrock on Facebook, at www.facebook.com/katiedidhumor. To find out more about her and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.