What’s in a name?


Whiskey was the first puppy Lainey and I found, but he wasn’t the last.   In October, 1975 during one of our regular walks, we found a 5 or 6 month old Beagle puppy on the lower dirt road that led to the lake.  Just like Whiskey, he was not wearing a collar.  That time of year, the summer cottages at the lake were deserted but because of our previous experience with Whiskey, we knew the drill; try to find his family and if his family could not be found, find him a new one.  So Lainey and I knocked on all of the doors of the few full-time lake residents asking if they had lost the puppy or if they had any idea whose pup he could be.   No one claimed him and, unlike Whiskey, no one volunteered to keep him, so I took him home.

My brother Billy was 14-years old and like most of the other males in my family, he hunted.  As soon as he saw the puppy, he said he wanted to keep him and train him to hunt rabbits. My parents agreed that if no one came to claim him Billy could keep him.

Several years earlier my father found an adult Beagle that had no license or name tag, which was not unusual where I grew up in the 1970’s.   My father named him Shang and he lived with us for many years, happy to run and hunt rabbits at every opportunity.   Shang lived long enough to develop arthritis and cataracts and spend most of this days sleeping unless he heard the familiar chk-chk sound of a shotgun pump.   If he heard that sound, he was up, alert and ready to hunt. Shang was long gone by the time Lainey and  I found this new Beagle puppy but the memory of Shang and the fact that Billy was excited to have his own dog made it a very easy decision for my parents to let my brother keep the puppy. Because Lainey and I found the Beagle pup right before Halloween, Billy named him Boo.

Billy began training Boo right away, with oversight and advice from Dad.  Soon, between Billy’s guidance and Boo’s inbred ability, the two made an awesome hunting duo. To this day, I don’t know which one had more fun; Boo, running, howling that distinctive howl Beagles make when they are running a rabbit, or Billy, yelling encouragement and barking orders to Boo.   My brother had a special way of talking to Boo when they were hunting; he didn’t even sound like himself.    He’d yell “Boo! Heeare!”, which meant he wanted Boo to come. They made a great pair with a language all their own and it was beautiful to listen to as they trained in the fields near our home.

In 1978 Billy joined the Army.  Knowing that he would not be home for years  and that Dad wouldn’t have much time to take Boo hunting regularly, Billy decided that it would be in Boo’s best interest to live with someone who could take him hunting often. So before he left for basic training, Billy gave Boo to a fellow rabbit hunter, a man named Bob who lived down the road from us.   Bob had Beagles and hunted with them regularly and Billy left for basic training feeling confident that Boo was in good hands.

When Billy returned home on leave after completing basic training, he stopped in at Bob’s house to see how Boo was doing.   From the road, Billy could see Boo and another Beagle in Bob’s back yard.  After knocking on the door, Bob told him that Boo was fine but that, “He doesn’t come when I call him; he doesn’t listen to me.”  So Bob and Billy went out to the backyard to see Boo.  When they got there Billy yelled, “Boo, Heear!” and Boo ran right up to him.   Billy told Bob he thought Boo listened just fine.

“Well,” said Bob, “I don’t call him Boo.  I call him Fred”.

“Why do you call him Fred?” Billy asked.

“I don’t like the name Boo and I used to have a Beagle named Fred, so I changed his name to Fred”, explained Bob.

“Uh-huh”, Billy said, “did you tell the dog that?  You might want to call him Boo.  I think he likes it.”

Me and you and a dog named Boo
Travelin’ and livin’ off the land,
Me and you and a dog named Boo
How I love being a free man.

– Kent LaVoie, Lobo

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

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