Communique Commentary: By Any Other Name | Nan Graham

Feb 16, 2018

Commentator Nan Graham provided many details to authorities in order to adopt her new dog. She did not, however, receive all the information about him.

Nan Graham
Credit WHQR/gg

Naming animals is serious business these days. We have escalated from pondering suitable names for our children and grandchildren to the best animal names. Ernie’s cousin, named her rescue dog, lovely Setter, “LB.” When asked how she got that name-could it be an abbreviation for Lauren Bacall, Lord Byron, or maybe even Lizzie Borden for the cousin’s notorious distant relative? She smiled. Oh no. “’LB’ stands for pound, because that's where I found her.” clever girl. The cousin, not the dog.

The search was on.

We all scanned adoption websites, daily reading profiles of the animals available and comparing notes. Finally, my Raleigh children hit a winner. My daughter Molly and her husband, Russ, actually picked him out from a rescue shelter near Fayetteville. On visitation, they knew that this was “the one,” an adorable fellow named Winston, half Basenji (African Hunting dog) and half Fox Terrier. The adoption procedure proved more lengthy the and complex than the search. I could've gotten a doctorate from Yale quicker than I got in my homeless little dog. The list was long. Phone numbers of my three character witnesses to be provided and each contacted by the shelter. My vet call to vouch for my suitability for dog ownership. History of previous dogs I have owned: breed, seen by (vet's name here), age when each animal died, and a detailed cause of death. Finally, a board was to review my application and decide yay or nay for the adoption. In light of recent animal cruelty reports, I guess too much is better than too little.

Eventually I passed my adoption finals and the dog and I headed home.

Our new routine gets me back on the street twice a day with my little dog. I call myself The Street Walker. But I have begun to question the recorded Basenji/Foxhound ancestry, the barkless African hunting dog part-Basenji. This guy is a yapper, but the hunting dog part is right. He methodically checks the perimeter of every enclosure, leaps tall buildings with a single bound…Well, almost.

I finally had time to read through the massive file from the rescue center. Take to the vet for a checkup within 10 days-Check. Register with microchip center-Check. Read your surrender papers. Hm? Yes. From Fayetteville. Surrender name---What? Whiskey?

The name had been carefully marked out with a single ballpoint pen strike. Next to it was penned in his new name: Winston. Apparently, the person who process the dog was a teetotaler who thought the original name might be off-putting to prospective adopters, not suitable for a canine in any respectable home. It lacks the gravitas.

Experiment: “Winston!”

A lethargic, slow mo head turns to meet my eyes.

Then, “Whiskey!” The Basenji- Foxhound head snaps around as if I had said “Attention!” It’s s a no-brainer. Whiskey it is, gravitas be damned.