Things Not to Name Your Pet

I think I'm living in the cat Bermuda Triangle. It seems like every day, another one goes missing, and another 150 missing cat posters decorate the trees and phone poles in my neighborhood. Don't get me wrong, I always feel sorry for their poor owners -- but I also find myself thinking, more often than not, what a terrible name for a pet. But the inspiration for this blog was this one, which I just had to snap a picture of:

This cat, poor lost soul that he is, has not one bad name, but two. (You let the kids name the cat, didn't you? Bad idea. I nearly named my mother's fox terrier "Falcon" when I was a GI Joe-obsessed nine-year-old.) Little wonder it ran away. Because when it comes to naming your pet, there should be some basic ground rules. It should sound like a pet, not like your stoner roommate. That rules out Gary, Ryan, Jeff, Amanda, etc. (Chris Higgins and I were once housemates, and we had a fancy goldfish named Paul. That's a terrible pet name -- it's also only a fish; I never would've done that to a dog.)

You can also go too far in the other direction, and give your pet a really cutesy, self-consciously pet name pet name. This is also a bad idea. According to The Internet, here are some of the worst real names of this sort:

Norman Tinkle-Winkle (cat)
Sir Crapsalot (dog)
Neuteronomy (cat)
Pussalini (cat)
Beowoof (dog)
Fussbudget the Squeak (cat, kinda cute actually)

Yet another genus of Bad Name is the Overly Long and Formal Silly Name. To wit:
Capt. Beauregard Schmoo-Diddeley (cat)
General Colon Bowel (dog)
Senator Loomis P Nutley III
Scootacious P. Fruitwinkle
Countess Rumpleteazer Cattulus Anastasia Hecate-Baalith of Kalma Nefferkitty Baghera Bastet la chate noire
Sir Meowington Pudger Cat The Third

Then there are the absurd head-scratchers, all given to cats:
Small Man in a Catsuit
Chinese Food
Hors D'Ouvres
Volume Discount

But hey, that's just my two cents. What are the worst pet names you've run across?

PS! If anyone HAS seen a tailless cat that answers to "Tailless" in Santa Monica, let me know and I'll give you the number to call.

Bleat Along to Classic Holiday Tunes With This Goat Christmas Album

Feeling a little Grinchy this month? The Sweden branch of ActionAid, an international charity dedicated to fighting global poverty, wants to goat—errr ... goad—you into the Christmas spirit with their animal-focused holiday album: All I Want for Christmas is a Goat.

Fittingly, it features the shriek-filled vocal stylings of a group of festive farm animals bleating out classics like “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” The recording may sound like a silly novelty release, but there's a serious cause behind it: It’s intended to remind listeners how the animals benefit impoverished communities. Goats can live in arid nations that are too dry for farming, and they provide their owners with milk and wool. In fact, the only thing they can't seem to do is, well, sing. 

You can purchase All I Want for Christmas is a Goat on iTunes and Spotify, or listen to a few songs from its eight-track selection below.

What Are the 12 Days of Christmas?

Everyone knows to expect a partridge in a pear tree from your true love on the first day of Christmas ... But when is the first day of Christmas?

You'd think that the 12 days of Christmas would lead up to the big day—that's how countdowns work, as any year-end list would illustrate—but in Western Christianity, "Christmas" actually begins on December 25th and ends on January 5th. According to liturgy, the 12 days signify the time in between the birth of Christ and the night before Epiphany, which is the day the Magi visited bearing gifts. This is also called "Twelfth Night." (Epiphany is marked in most Western Christian traditions as happening on January 6th, and in some countries, the 12 days begin on December 26th.)

As for the ubiquitous song, it is said to be French in origin and was first printed in England in 1780. Rumors spread that it was a coded guide for Catholics who had to study their faith in secret in 16th-century England when Catholicism was against the law. According to the Christian Resource Institute, the legend is that "The 'true love' mentioned in the song is not an earthly suitor, but refers to God Himself. The 'me' who receives the presents refers to every baptized person who is part of the Christian Faith. Each of the 'days' represents some aspect of the Christian Faith that was important for children to learn."

In debunking that story, Snopes excerpted a 1998 email that lists what each object in the song supposedly symbolizes:

2 Turtle Doves = the Old and New Testaments
3 French Hens = Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues
4 Calling Birds = the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
5 Golden Rings = the first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch", which gives the history of man's fall from grace.
6 Geese A-laying = the six days of creation
7 Swans A-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments
8 Maids A-milking = the eight beatitudes
9 Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
10 Lords A-leaping = the ten commandments
11 Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles
12 Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed

There is pretty much no historical evidence pointing to the song's secret history, although the arguments for the legend are compelling. In all likelihood, the song's "code" was invented retroactively.

Hidden meaning or not, one thing is definitely certain: You have "The Twelve Days of Christmas" stuck in your head right now.


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