Thursday, September 3, 2009

Tucker meetup

News writers hunting for charming local stories have lately been going for the tried-and-true: mining data for conversation-starting topics, in this case, dog names. The latest piece, which ran yesterday, evaluates names in Wellesley, Natick and Newton. The trend nationwide, apparently, is to name dogs after people. Seems like there's something wrong here...I'd go about it the other way.

Here's what the experts say:

"People are choosing human names to give their pets relevant places in their household. By making the name personal, or even a person’s name, they’re establishing their pet’s place as a genuine member of the family, too," notes Veterinary Pet Insurance after an analysis of 450,000 pet names.

I learned that 23 other Tuckers make Wellesley their domain, and I would like to meet every single one of them. (Out of 2,702 registered dogs, Tucker is the 6th most popular name, according to data from license registrations.)

Hmmph. And Mom extensively checked the US census data before naming her human child.

Presumably Tucker the Shih-Tzu was napping while his mom, Fran, was browsing last week at my favorite boutique, Tails (of course), because Fran was sans canine. This tiny Tucker was so named because he likes to tuck his head into his favorite person and snuggle.
I'd like to meet him!


In our family,
we hew to dog-like names rather than people names, although we do know of one human Wellesley Tucker boy. So, does he have a dog name, or do I have a people name?

The Wellesley data shows that naming pets after drinks, both alcoholic and otherwise, also is pup-ular.
Our family is opposed to pumping commercial products, which is why we rarely mentioned Sparky's pre-adoption moniker of—shh—Dr. Pepper. Horrors!

Apparently, we're bucking the trend.
If the number of beds one can sleep on in a household is any indication of one's place in the family, it's a wrap for me--humans only seem to only be assigned one, that is, if they get along. I claim: an early evening nap spot (bed #1), dead of night sleeping spot (crate), early morning sleeping spot (bed #2), late morning sleeping spot (bed #3)...you get the idea.

My sister said that my especially gorgeous ears and markings led her to think I needed a name beginning with the letter T. Given that my pre-adoption assignment was Bandit 1 (or Bandit 2, I'm not sure which) and I was fortunate enough to escape a hunting fate, I didn't especially mind the name change. Bandit is a rather apt description for my behavior, although I'm more of a steal it, chew it, and leave it lying around type of thief.


So Tuckers, let me know where you are, and we can trade name tales.

Gear review

For those of us who remain rather, say, undisciplined despite rigorous training, gear is a necessity.

For the record, I am the holder of two graduation certificates, and my trainer, Elaine Stern, even kissed me while handing over the diplomas. She doesn't do that for just anybody.

However, gear still is important. For example, someone set off a firecracker during an evening stroll in Newton. I was a bit startled. OK, Mom says I bolted— in the direction of the car, but a street, and a bicyclist, were in the way. Fortunately, I was in my harness, saving the bicyclist from being hit by a canine missile.

Needless to say, I have tried it all (the gear, that is).

The results:

Gear: Harness and leash with handle (which I am modeling above)
Control: Good
Plop O'Doom allowance: Medium—requires a push and a pull to outmaneuver
Restraint: Good, depending on your viewpoint
Chafing: Good, except during the POD outmaneuver
Vet approval: Yes
Ease of use: You put your right foot in, you put your right foot out...
Public acceptability: Good

Gear: Prong collar
Plop O'Doom allowance: Maximum (good for me!)

Restraint: Good
Chafing:
Medium to Poor

Vet approval: No
Ease of use: Good
Public acceptability: Poor (you can see why)

Gear: Gentle Leader halter (the one that goes over your nose and behind your ears)
Control: Poor—like trying to stop a freight train with a ribbon
Restraint: Ditto (although it worked beautifully for Sparky)
Plop O'Doom allowance: Maximum (excellent!)
Chafing: No more nose hair!
Ease of use: Medium
Public acceptability: Thinks it's a muzzle