The name game
Several weeks ago we were at a local beach here in Connecticut. Both Luke and Elsa were off leash which puts me on high alert. I cannot carry on a good conversation because I'm "watching." I am watching for proximity, distance, other canines and interactions. It is a full time job watching that nothing goes wrong; mostly I was watching Elsa, at only 6 months now she is far from reliable with her recall. Add in a bunch of other dogs to play with and she goes stone deaf.
Luke is a dog that likes to get distance, he has always been like this and it makes me uncomfortable. He is completely reliable and trustworthy but I have my own "safety zone" distance and he always goes out of it. Realizing that he was a bit far for my liking I shouted out to him "Clyde." I stopped dead in my tracks, what? Did I just yell out Clyde? Where the hell did that come from? Clyde was the boy that I had before Luke; Clyde has now been gone 12.5 years but it still came out.
I think that I shouted his name because I'd been thinking about him a lot lately. With the loss of Jessie and Tilley growing older (this was before losing Tilley) I was thinking about all my past dogs. I was shocked that it came out so naturally and was quite taken back. Names are a strange thing; if I meet someone on the street I will rarely remember their name, that is unless I do the name association thing. I'm horrible at remembering human names. But; I can remember just about all the dogs I've met in my life, yep.
It is common when I'm calling out for one of my children that I go through many names, dogs included until I settle on who it actually is that I am calling. That person usually smiles and shakes their head; I clearly remember my father doing the same thing. There were 5 kids in my family and only one dog but he would go through all the names until he got to who it was. We all do it, even bringing up names from the past. Two evenings ago my husband got home from work and bent down to greet out little gal Elsa. He smiled and said "Hey Till." I said "Till?" catching the error immediately. He shook his head sadly.
There can be many reasons why we miss use names; calling out the wrong name of who we are addressing. One reason is that we are far too busy and our minds become a cluster of thoughts are tangled up. The other is that our words reveal our thoughts; clearly my husband had been thinking of Tilley that night. Clyde had been on my mind a great deal the day I called out to Luke with Clyde's name. Then there is the simple fact that we tend to screw things up; calling out to Elsa I yell "Luke," then catch myself, shake my head and readdress the little one.
I figure the more names you go through until resting on the right one, the more amazing beings you have in your life.