Thursday, May 24, 2012

BTT (#23) ~ pet names

Lu @ Booking Through Thursday asks:
Do you have any pet that has a name inspired by your readings?
I'm using only the basic question today, because my answer will already be divided into several parts:  Jack, Pippa, Dickens and Junie B.

(1)  Jack of "Jack and Jill"

When my twin daughters were five and my son was two, they found under the tree on Christmas twin kittens, one male and one female. I have never been able to tell one sex from the other until cats grow up, but we told our children which we THOUGHT was which.  We were, of course, wrong.  Before we learned we had mislabeled the kittens, the children had chosen names from among their favorite stories, and the furry babies became Jack and Jill.  Or Jill and Jack.  Within a few months one darted under the wheels of a car and "Jill" lived on ... until the day it was undeniably clear that "she" was Jack.  I'm sure Jack was totally confused when he received his sister's name, after having been Jill up until then.  But it was clear that he knew the word meant HIM ... whenever he heard "Jack," even in the middle of a sentence spoken between humans, he would twitch his ear in our direction even if we thought he was asleep across the room.

Jack was an outdoor cat who loved to chase squirrels.  When he spied one in the dogwood tree, up he would go after the critter, who simply hopped to a branch of a nearby oak tree and chattered heatedly at Jack, who sat dejectedly in the dogwood tree like an oversized gray-and-white Persian blossom.  Lest you believe Jack was not a hunter, however, let me assure you he brought in his share of "gifts" to the family.

One Sunday morning I left my children at home getting ready for church (my mother lived downstairs) and dashed off to the office to make copies for a Monday morning business trip.  When I got home, I saw my 10- or 11-year-old son coming across the back yard from the woods.  He was dressed for church, crying, and dragging the double-bladed axe.  My heart stopped! Until I heard the story.  Jack had brought a twitching rabbit onto the patio, and my young son told me he knew if I'd been there, I would have put the dying animal out of its misery.   "But Mom, I knew you'd kill he if I used the 22-rifle," he said.  Darn tootin!   Instead, my kind-hearted child used the axe ... almost, but not quite, as bad as the rifle.  And he managed NOT to get blood on his Sunday suit.   I was so proud of him for doing what had to be done, something that he knew was the right thing, even though his little heart was breaking when he did it.   I never saw the rabbit because my little boy took care of the problem.

Jack the Gentleman Cat probably wondered about his humans ... didn't they recognize what a gift he had shared?  Usually what Jack shared was laundry time.  When I would come to the basement laundry room, Jack would follow me and sit on a window sill or the dryer to talk to me while I stuffed the washer with dirty clothes.

Since he spent a lot of time roaming the neighborhood, he himself would sometimes be the one who came home bloodied and scarred.   One evening about dusk I got a call from a neighbor, telling me my cat had knocked over a large $100 vase on her front porch.  By the time my husband got on the phone with her, the vase was worth $200.   I got the car keys to go find Jack, went to the basement garage, and found Jack sound asleep on top of the car ... and the garage door was firmly closed.  Not.  My.  Cat!  Oh, you can't imagine how happily I called the woman back to inform her the naughty cat was someone else's!  Jack, my sleeping fur person, was totally exonerated!
(2)  Pippa, of "Pippa Passes"
Pippa got her name from Robert Browning's famous poem "Pippa Passes," published in 1841.  Perhaps the most famous passage is sung by a little Italian girl named Pippa:

The year's at the spring,
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hill-side's dew-pearled;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in his Heaven
All's right with the world!
Each of my three children memorized these lines and could recite them to me.  (Okay, I bribed them to do it for a quarter apiece, which really was worth a little bit of something in the late 1960s.)  Pippa was a regular-sized collie with a very sweet and loving personality.  I have a photo of her romping with David when my son couldn't have been more than five or six years old (he'll be 49 next month).   They were in the lower part of the yard, down near the stream that ran through our back yard, near my children's earliest treehouse which was built beside a large tree and had a sandbox under it.

That's one of the good memories, but the bad memory almost obliterates the good.  On December 12, 1977, we arrived home after dark to discover Pippa lying dead in the upper part of the back yard.  She had been shot and killed, we learned later, by someone who said to my daughter at school, "I know who killed your dog."   It was apparently a boy she refused to date, a boy who must have come around the end of our house and shot Pippa with a 22-rifle as she stared toward the back road, away from the shooter.  A beloved pet was killed by a boy who wanted my daughter to suffer because she wouldn't go out with him.  And I am so glad she never did!   I was fearful for the longest time, however, that the next time it would be one of my children.
(3)  Dickens, named for the famous author Charles Dickens
This cute-as-the-dickens kitten was hiding from the rain under my roommate's car when she went out on a Sunday morning.   Needing to get to church to teach a children's Sunday school class, she brought him to me.  What could I do?  I left a cellphone message that I'd miss church with family, but would meet them for lunch afterwards.   In the meantime, this little dickens was exploring his new digs (interesting word) and thus totally annoying the two elderly cats, Sammy, who was 13, and Kiki, who was 8 years old.  Much deep-throat growling and spitting occurred.  Sammy hid under Donna's bed, snarling whenever the little fuzzball appeared on her radar, but Kiki defended her turf, actively growling her "ERRRRMMM-mmmmm" whenever the hyperactive youngster cavorted too near the corner where she had retreated.

Surprisingly, this tiny fellow wasn't taking any guff from the big cats and would hiss right back at them.  Once, having run from Kiki's hissey fit of snarling and spitting, he jumped into the litter box in the laundry room and said what I can only translate as "nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-NYAH-nyah ... hisssss!"   Then he pooped, covered it with sandy litter, and pranced right back into the living room where Kiki sat, quivering with righteous indignation that we humans had allowed this ... this ... strutting white ball of fluff into HER home.

I left the kitten closed up in the bathroom with a bowl of water and went out for lunch and an afternoon of swimming.  When I returned late in the day, Sammy was still under the bed and Kiki looked frazzled from listening to hours of meowing emanating from the other side of that door.  When I released the captive kitty, I found that everything on the counter had been knocked aside and dusty paw prints decorated the sink.   (Had he first conquered any dust bunnies hiding behind the toilet bowl?)  It was an interesting 24 hours.  I was awakened at 7:30 the next morning by the kitten, who was ardently waging a battle against my elbow with his needle-sharp claws and teeth.
(4)  Junie B., of the beloved Junie B. children's books
Dickens is now Junie B.  Kiki, Sammy, and I decided the little dickens who moved in on the previous Sunday could be described as "tiresome" or maybe "more energy than a dynamo" or even "make it stop"!  The non-stop kitten drained us of our energy.  Donna, who missed about nine hours a day of "fun with kitty" by going to work every day, was off on Wednesday and finally realized we really could not keep such an active kitten who took a walk in my oatmeal and liked to tackle the tails of elderly cats.  So she departed with kitty on a journey to the brand-spanking-new animal adoption place nearby.   Kiki was so relieved that she came and sat in my lap for close to 45 minutes, sighing and content.  When Donna returned in about an hour, all three of us ... Kiki, Sammy, and I ... stared in disbelief as the kitty bounced out of Donna's arms and back into our lives!  What happened?   The new place takes only 30 adoptions a day, with the next possible date being next month, and asked Donna to "foster" the little one a few more weeks.

We did learn something, however. I had thought, upon examination, that the kitten was a girl; Donna was sure she saw a couple of things I had missed and said it was a boy.  The adoption center confirmed he's a she.  So the little dickens needed a new name.  We were going for literary and tried every female name possible ... until Donna thought of Junie B.  Unless you have youngsters in your life, you may not know about the Junie B. Jones books by Barbara Park, which even little boys enjoy.  Junie B. is always into something, like in this "Sneaky Peeky Spy" story.  Aha, just like our little dickens!  And the amazing part is that the kitten likes "Junie B." and totally ignored "Dickens" when we said it.  Maybe she was trying to tell us something.


Eva said...

Those names came with the cutest stories, and a scary one.
Our cat has a litererary name too.

Cathy De Los Santos said...

Those are def some stories. Thanks for sharing it was interesting to read about your pets and family. Here's my BTT

Faith said...

Wow! Lots of literary names for you! Love them all! And, great pictures!

Here's my BTT:

Reading Kelly said...

Those are all great names and I love the stories! Check out my BTT here