I recently heard from a woman seeking advice on a rather unusual problem. It seems that Ellen and her husband had fallen in love with and adopted a dog from an animal shelter. The dog, an adult of unknown ancestry, had arrived at the shelter with the name Dave. He knows his name, comes to it when called wagging his tail gleefully from side to side.
The problem? So does her husband. (OK, without the gleeful tail wagging.) That's right, two Daves. One a husband, one a bit furrier. Although all found the coincidence amusing at first, it's now causing some domestic strife. It seems that Dave the husband is beginning to resent sharing his name. Dave the dog, on the other hand, has offered up no complaints. Draw your own conclusions.
Human Dave feels that "Dave, come!" is beginning to wear a bit thin as they head around the block on their frequent family walks, thinner yet when the neighbors are within earshot. "Dinner Dave" is also somewhat less amusing than it might have been at that first meal, the dynamic Dave-duo entering the kitchen simultaneously to discover two plates of kibble, one on the floor, one on the table. And "come to bed, Dave" is leading to all sorts of bipedal jealousy.
What to do? I offer several options, all of course immensely helpful.
First, as a representative of the species renown for superior intelligence, it would appear obvious that Human Dave is a far better candidate for successfully learning a new name. I suggest that this, in fact, should be seized upon as an opportunity since almost all of us wander through life with names given us by people who didn't even really know us when that selection was made. Go for it, I suggest: Heroic, manly names ought to be considered, like Thor, Attila and Godzilla. Personal nicknames, one with which he is already familiar, might now enter the public sector; monikers like Pookey and Honey Bear.
Second option, assuming Human Dave is used to his name, I suggest some of the standard father-son choices: Dave Sr. and Jr.; Dave I and II; David and Davie; Big D and Little D.
On the odd chance that hubby is neither willing to relinquish nor to share his calling card, Ellen ought to consider the following: statistically speaking, she is likely to keep the dog longer than the husband. Although dog and cat adoptions sometimes do not work out, such failures are far less common than the 50 percent divorce rate of American marriages. Which, then, to worry about offending or confusing?
In the final analysis, if Ellen is convinced that the slightly less hairy of the Daves is worth trying to keep around and should he insist, however unfairly, on the immutable rule known as "first dibs," she can rest assured that Dog Dave is able to become accustomed to a new name. The trick is to pick the new name, and offer a yummy morsel each time he responds to it. After all, many shelter animals, strays who come to us without any background information available, are placed into new homes and learn to love whatever their new family decides to call them. I do leave Ellen with one warning: Keep in mind that, should the new name be cool enough and the food yummy enough, she could end up with two males competing to be known as Duke.