Dogs and names

October 13, 2011

The Curmudgeon, Squid and I went for a long walk on the weekend. So long, in fact, that we had to stop at the cafe/nursery in Yarra Bend Park for tea and mince pies to be sure we’d make it home alive.

As we sat, a woman walked past with a lanky black dog called Max. (We know he was called Max because she addressed him as thus.) We admired his gleaming coat and general handsomeness,  except Squid who was concerned he might get mince pie crumbs that should be hers alone and glared accordingly. His owner took him into the nursery and tied him up.

A minute or two later, an illegally liberated Max trotted out, lead a-trailing. He stomped over to the gate and looked around. Cars were driving in front of him and the possibility of a flat Max was very real. I leaped up and called, “Max! Maxie!”

He jerked his head towards me and pricked up his ears and tail. He ambled over with a look of cheerful bemusement. His demeanour seemed to say, ‘I don’t know who you are, lady, but you know my name so we must be friends.’ I told him he was most excellent and grabbed the end of his lead, delivering him back to his owner. “Excuse me, Max was looking for you over near the gate.” She was a bit concerned but ultimately delighted, as all us dog nuts are when our dogs are delivered safely from potential disaster.

I returned to our table and Max, securely held, kept staring at me for some minutes, amber eyes steadfast across the nursery. He peered around his owner’s legs. I could almost hear the cogs turning in his head. ‘Who the dickens is that? Where have we met before? Was it at the Henderson’s last summer?”

Dogs don’t call one another names, do they? How does Max know that he’s Max, and Squid know that she’s Squid? If a stranger says, “hey, dog,” to Squid, she generally ignores them. Whatevs. But if they say “hey, Squid,” she wriggles and writhes and grins even if she’s never met them before. Maybe, to a dog, their name means “I’m a friendly human who wants to pat you” and each time you use it you’re actually introducing yourself.

Whatever it means, ain’t dogs grand?



  1. OK, you are back from the Prom, I have home internet again, wherefore are you not posting things to distract me from my evenings?

  2. Cool observation! Love me the puppies!

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