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How the Dogs Got Their Names


Prufrock was the most remarkable puppy. From the first day I brought him home, he seemed to approach everything he did with careful contemplation. Chewing a bone, choosing a toy, sniffing around the ins and outs of the house, peeing (rarely!) on the floor. The word that's always sprung to mind is contemplative.

He went for many days without a name. As young as he was, it was clear from the beginning that his was a singular personality.

After trying on a few different names (none of which were even close enough to bear mentioning here), it struck me one morning. Prufrock. From a character perspective, I could see this little puppy whiling away the hours asking himself questions of his own and others' existence. I saw him pass a dangling morsel on the coffee table and wonder Do I dare? On top of that, his every movement seemed so fluid, like the language of the poem--well, it made perfect sense. Through all the nicknames and shortenings--"Buddy," "Pruf," "Stinky"--he is and will always remain Prufrock.



I knew Gus's name before I'd ever met him, and that's because I knew his story. His mother, Marci (who is Prufrock's sister), had 13 puppies. Hour after hour, for the first few days, everything looked fine. On day three, one puppy was not behaving normally; he was dead in six hours. Then two more died, and three more after that. In the end, only two survived. Autopsies were inconclusive.

Augustus is a fighter, just like his namesake Gus McCrae, from Lonesome Dove. More importantly, though, he's out to have a good time. He wants to wrestle and play--no matter how big the dog he's up against. And then he wants to sleep. 

As much as he relishes a fight, Gus is tender. He doesn't want to stray too far from his friends. He seeks the affection of people he loves (and if he can't find them, he'll happily accept the affection of a perfect stranger).

At only 8 weeks old, I can already guarantee this much about Gus: once you've met him, you'll never forget him.

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