I was thinking, for some reason, about pet names, probably in regard to the puppy that I’m going to have coming home in a couple of weeks, and I realized that fannish people are typically not likely to name their pets the standard Spot or Fluffy that are overdone to death. In fact, most of the people I know who are collectors or fans of science fiction, fantasy and related genres tend to come up with creative or unusual pet names, often based on the very movies, books or comics that they enjoy so much. I realized that I’ve done that for years so I decided, maybe it might be an interesting idea to present a couple of my current pets with unusual names, that come from books or movies or TV shows. So here goes.
To the left is my 2-year old yellow-sided green-cheek conure, one of several birds I have. If you listen to the podcast, you might occasionally hear him making noise in the background, although I try my hardest to edit that out. He’s a very smart bird, he speaks a few words and phrases here and there, but his real expertise lies in mimicking sounds. He seriously thinks he’s a cockatiel, his best friends are two cockatiels belonging to my daughters and he calls for them, in their “language” all the time. They carry on “conversations” and apparently, he knows what they’re saying and he knows the reverse. He can also “meow” like a cat, do a perfect version of the doorbell, and, to my eternal regret, my kids have taught him to bob his head while saying “derp” over and over. If you have no idea where his name came from, his full name is Crow T. Conure, which is a reference to the Mystery Science 3000 character Crow T. Robot.
Next comes a cat, the only to currently have a fannish name, but it’s clear where it comes from. We got him just after Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban came out in book form, back in 1999 and while the cat that portrayed him in the movies isn’t that similar looking (and it’s damn ugly IMO), Crookie is a big, fat, happy 13 year old cat that, for some weird reason, loves sticking his face in shoes.
He spent the first 5-6 years with us afraid of everything. I have no idea what his life was like before we got him but he hated everything and everyone in the house. I can’t imagine it had time to be too horrible, we got him at 3-4 months of age, but he hissed at all the other cats, ran from the dogs and hid from us, he’d only come out when nobody was watching and if you tried to pick him up, he’d scratch you. Luckily, over time he’s mellowed to the point that he likes being pet, he purrs up a storm and he at least tolerates all the other animals in the house. I don’t know that he’ll ever be a lap cat, you can put him in your lap and as long as you pay complete attention to him, he might stick around for a few minutes, but unlike most of the other cats, he won’t seek you out and, except to go ears-deep in your shoes, won’t even lie down close to someone. That’s alright, he’s a good cat anyhow
Next, we get two dogs whose names go together. I found them wandering down our road about 4 years ago, it was clear that they were used to being together, although I have no idea if they got thrown out of the same home or if they found each other on the streets. We never intended to keep them, I just wanted to nurse them back to health and find them good homes, but they were such good dogs, that very soon, they won our hearts. They were terrified and clearly had been abused. Misty, on the left, had his tail broken and it had healed badly and Scarlet, on the right, had his tongue split at some time in the past. Both were loaded with fleas and ticks, both were covered in scabs, malnourished and terrified. In fact, Misty still is, even after 4 years of nothing but love, if anyone raises their voice, he runs and hides, if you lift your hand around him, he cowers, hopefully over the years, this will eventually go away. However, Misty is, by far, the most loving dog I have ever had. He wants to be around you all the time. He wants to live in your lap. He wants your attention constantly. He will jump up in your lap, roll over on his back and go to sleep like a baby. If we let him sleep with us, he is the only animal in the house that will curl up under the covers and sleep the night through. My wife calls him pathetic. I think he’s a fantastic dog. As near as we can figure, he’s a beagle/corgi mix, he’s got all the classic beagle traits, plus super-short legs and a tail that wags up and down instead of side to side.
On the right though is Scarlet. He’s a full-blood American Cocker Spaniel and, aside from his split tongue and a couple of scars, he’s in very good shape. I’d say that of the two, he was the worst off, he had an injury under his left eye when we got him that had almost swollen his eye shut and that, if you know where to look, you can still see a crease around his eye where it was forced closed. That said though, he’s full of energy, too much energy sometimes, and always wants to be the center of attention. Whatever happened to him before we got him, he’s long since forgotten all about it. Cockers are supposed to be smart and he is, but he’s got the attention span of a lima bean. That said, he’s fully trained, unlike Misty, he can sit, stay, come and beg on command, although if you tell him to stay, he’ll do it until you stop looking, then forget what he was supposed to be doing.
So, why are their names fannish? When we got them, I wanted names that fit the dogs and that went together. It wasn’t too hard to come up with the combination, especially when you look at Misty’s forehead. Yes, these two are Captain Scarlet and Mysterion, from the 1960s Supermarionation series from England, although in reality, it was probably more based upon my recent viewing of the 2005 updated New Captain Scarlet.
And finally, the patriarch of the house, the oldest dog we have. He’s a chihuahua mix, although I have no idea what he’s mixed with. Of all of the animals I’ve discussed, he’s the only one to be taken directly out of an animal shelter (the rest were off the street or from a breeder). Back around 2006, I had a small cocker/doxie mix dog that died of old age and while thinking about a new dog to get, I decided that instead of some of the larger dogs I had owned, I wanted something small. Ideally, I was thinking of a small chihuahua, although not one of the yippy teacup varieties, and started looking at local shelters. Nobody had anything close to what I was looking for. We were even in a raffle at one shelter for a single, injured, chihuahua, where several dozen people were fighting over her. We lost, but that’s fine because right after, I ran into this dog at my local shelter. He was an older dog, they estimated around 8, but he was friendly and happy and loving so I took him. He was a bit off breed standards, if you know what I mean. Only one of his hears goes up. His tail curls to the right. However, he was a really, really sweet dog and we’ve had him for around 7 years now. He’s gotten beaten up because of the typical chihuahua attitude and has the scars to prove it, but he’s still happy, healthy and feisty. His name? It came from an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, from the movie Manos: The Hands of Fate, where a bumbling villain with comically large knees aids his supernatural master in gaining victims for his cult. It was actually a fluke that he came to be named that, we couldn’t agree what to name him, everyone was just throwing out names and I said, as a joke, “how about Torgo?” It just stuck. Unfortunately, full-blooded chihuahuas live 10-18 years and he’s right in the middle of that range. He’s no longer as spry as he once was and I know that one of these days, his time will come, which is why…
Yes, we decided to adopt another chihuahua. Normally we wouldn’t do it until he was gone, but this opportunity fell into our lap and we decided we’d be happy to take care of another dog. We have no idea what her name will be, yes, it is a girl, we won’t even get her until at least the last half of March and certainly won’t start thinking of names until we know her personality. I’m sure that a bunch of fannish names will be suggested though, we’ll keep the tradition going, as we have for many dogs and cats that we’ve had throughout the years. It makes life with pets a little more fun.