On the Edge of Common Sense
by Baxter Black, DVM
One of the hazards of marrying a redneck, an east Texas long-suffering wife told me, is the husband’s habit of naming their children coon dog names: Buck, Jake, Sal, Missy, Hoot, Booger, Blue, Red, Blackie, Lady, Bubba, Sweetie, Smokey, Tank, Scooter, Jimbo, or Ring. I know people named Cratus, Cretia, Eulafern, Ysidro, Helmut and Orville, but I’ve never heard those names mentioned in hunting dog shows on the Outdoor Channel.
We’re working on a website addition, a "Hall of Fame" with pictures of animals named Baxter. It includes many dogs, horses, cats, and some steers, but also included are mules, swine, reptiles, ferrets, snakes, fish, birds and one beetle…black, of course! In my case, I’m not sure if having a hamster named after you is a compliment, but naming your first-born after a dearly departed good hunting dog is surely meant to be an honor. "Eat your Gerber’s, Badger, you want to grow up big and strong and be able to drool."
Naming after animals is an ancient traditional ritual. I had a Chinese virology teacher named Fu Ho Chow and a pharmacology teacher named Dr. Heron. There’s a state in Mexico called Chihuahua, a country called Turkey, a river named Salmon, and of course, states christened Carolina and New Hampshire.
I’ve always been intrigued by the popularity of naming kids after towns in Wyoming; Cody, Douglas, Cheyenne, Kaycee, Sheridan, Jackson, Powell and Laramie. So far they’ve avoided Thermopolis, Chugwater and Baggs, but an unusual name can make a kid unique: Englebert, Dweezil, Pinky, Elvis, Ejulio, Bunny or Babbette. Indians are perhaps the most ardent practitioners of naming after animals: Sitting Bull, Little Squirrel, Roan Horse, Buffalo Bill (sorry), Crow, Elkhorn, Deer Slayer, Eagle Feather, Big Foot.
So, regarding the east Texas Lady’s concern about her husband’s choice of coon dog names for kids, it could be worse. She could have married an astronomer who insisted on naming his children after constellations, or a doctor naming his kids after surgical procedures, Mike Kroscope, Lipo Suction, and Angieo Plasty.
Or a geologist who chose names from natural formations. "These are my children Alluvial, Tectonic, Strata and our new baby, Hemisphere."
Or a corn farmer – Hy and Stubbie.
Enough, Enough! Stick with names that are named after a baseball cap and a ceremony – Bill and Mary.
Baxter Black is a former large animal veterinarian who can be followed nationwide through this column, National Public Radio, public appearances, television and also through his books, cds, videos and website, www.baxterblack.com.