A dog by any other name

by Dawn Smith-Pfeifer, NDFB Director of Content and Communications

I have a confession to make. I have this habit of not calling our dogs by their names. And my husband and I have had four – all Springer Spaniels – so that’s a lot of confusion for anyone who listens to me talk to our dogs. I also have had in-depth conversations with our four-legged buddies. I ask questions: Do you want a treat? Are you a good boy? Who’s a good boy? What did you do with my other shoe? And I answer too, in a slightly weird voice, so I guess I’m talking to myself, but that’s a topic for another day.   

I started my NDFB career in 1985. We got our first Springer in 1991. His name was Apollo. I only called him that when I was being stern. Actually, I called him Apollo The Dog, (with emphasis on DOG) because everyone knows when “Mom” is mad she says your full name. Otherwise, various names I called him were (and this is a short list): Googer or Googemeister, Ivan (as in The Terrible), Pupliken, Koby Dog, Crit and Sweeple (a shortened version of Sweet Apollo). And the only reason I remember all those silly names is because I wrote a column about it when I was the editor of NDFB’s magazine called Dakota Family.

February 1998 issue of Dakota Family

The second Springer, Lucy, was a field trial dog with not much personality, a little high strung and distant, so she didn’t get many nicknames, but Springer #3 sure got plenty. And while I didn’t have a column in a magazine at work to remind me of all the alternate names I called him, I have two kids who provided fodder for me. The dog’s name was Riley, but he was also Puppy Boy, Rye-Pie, Rile-Us-Pile-Us Fruit-Pie (hey no one said the nickname had to be short, right?), Dingo Dog, the variation Dingo Deaggio, Ivan Skupperude, Major Pet Dude, Whiner Forty-Niner and Hivishem.

#3 and #4 together

We are now on our fourth Springer, Archie, and this blog will help me remember well after I retire and become more forgetful than I already am, what his first nickname was: Little Man. Then I brought Christmas carols into it by singing (to the tune of Jingle Bells) “Little Man, Little Man, Little Tiny Man. Little. Little Little. Little. Little Tiny Man, Hey!” I have also been known to call him Stinker Pot Pie. And Archibald. And because Archibald just didn’t seem like enough syllables, I started calling him Archibald Contaubluss. I’ve recently shortened it to “Tauby.” Who knows what it will be next week? These names are ever changing, so Archie will probably get several more over the course of his doggy dog life. It all depends on his behavior, my goofiness, and how much longer NDFB is willing to keep me around! Stay tuned.

#4, all grown up, looking regal all wrapped up in his blankie, hence Archibald Contaubluss

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