One of the great things about dogs with a long family history is the possibility of richly meaningful names. I am going to become hoist in my own petard a little later about this, but it has always pained me to see dignified bluebloods with names like ChooChoo and Lollipop. Save that for “I think I can” and “good ships” in Gilbert and Sullivan.
I went the Chinese route with Ling Ling for her name. We bought her from a breeder in Calgary before she was even born. Since we were the first to put our deposit down, we got the pick of the litter. My husband Ernest knew exactly what he wanted, even before we went to see them. The day after the pups were born, we were allowed into the birthing room. Out of the five babies in the litter, Ling Ling was the only red (and white) puppy, and she was the only one that Ernest wanted.
While we were waiting for her to grow up enough so we could take her home, I went through baby names, dog names, and finally hit upon Chinese names. I struggled through list after list of them, but nothing rang a bell. And then LingLing did—ring a bell, I mean. It didn’t dawn on me at the time that it was the name of that Chinese-Japanese symbol of friendship, the giant panda bear Ling Ling. All I knew was it was the right name—the list I looked at showed that Ling Ling meant caring, although apparently it can also mean bell or delicate. I suppose the different definitions are due to different Chinese dialects.
Anyhow, when we got her home, she moved right in with the air of, “Where were you? I thought you were never going to come and get me!” She answered to the name of Ling Ling right away, and didn’t even blink an eye when Daddy nicknamed her (wait for it) “Dingaling.”
The cool thing about the breeder we dealt with was that she allowed us time to come up with a name so that she could register LingLing’s birth with the Canadian Kennel Club for her Purebred Dog Certificate of Registration. Officially, our little shih tzu’s name weighs more than she does: Pekabout Ling Ling out of Pekabout Absolute Angel by Pekabout Raising Reggie. But to us she is LingLing, or Dingaling, or Princess, or Baby. Amazingly, she answers to all of these.
(Next week watch for Part 1 of “Dog Names”)
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