Givin’ a Dog a Name

The Late Duke, when he came home the first time …

The Late Duke, when he came home the first time …

Sheba is white, maybe fawn. I can’t tell the color very well in the dark of dawn. Her master is a revered celebrity, a beloved treasure of our nation, and this his pet runs without a leash. Sometimes her athletic master walks with her; sometimes the mistress. I’ve encountered the three together a few times and kept my distance, from the master and mistress for one reason, from Sheba for another.

Round the corner from that sportsman's house lives Zorro. I’ve told you about Zorro, who also is never on a leash, in a previous post. With Zorro lives another canine, whose name could be Augustus, or Brutus, or perhaps Mark Anthony. I’ll tell you why I guess so: The mistress of Zorro and his mate has acquired a pup. I heard her coo to him on the street this morning. “Caeser,” she said. “Come here, Caesar.” And Caesar tottered over to her, stumbling once and stumbling twice before reaching her. He is black. Caesar is black, and when he is grown he’ll be mean. I saw the promise in him.

A guard walks a long-legged lean one who is black and brown. Taking a cue from the aforementioned ladies, he’s begun to let loose his charge. The hound is Alexander, maybe? Not Darius, I think. Certainly not Porus: You think like Trump when you pick for a dog a name — never ever the loser’s.

I bet if I shout Cleopatra, and Nefertiti, I’ll hear a bark from there, and from there. They may not be warm, friendly. I’m a philistine, and indifferent to these royal dogs in my largely regal neighborhood.

I must confess I’ve myself owned dogs in my life. Of the last two that I’ve had, one died last year. His name was Duke, and he was a St. Bernard. He is survived by a snow-white Retriever, whose name is Raja, and I’ve dispatched him to the factory campus, where he has room enough for good chasing. The guards love him there.

I wonder why I haven’t yet met a Hannibal. Or Chengis, or Kublai. I’ve known a Marco and I might’ve glimpsed a Polo, but I really look forward petting an Atilla a little.