TRACIE HOTCHNER: WHAT TO CALL YOUR NEW DOG? WHAT NAME CAN YOU GIVE LOVE?

On this week’s “Dog Talk” I interviewed Kim Dower, a wonderful California poet who read aloud many of her dog-themed poems. I was struck by one in particular, that will be appearing for the first time in her upcoming third book of poetry, “Last Train to the Missing Planet.”

She gave me permission to reprint it before the book even comes out so more people can enjoy it. I think it captures the essence of the wondrous moments of bringing a new dog into your family (whether a puppy or older one) and embarking on that thrilling new relationship, beginning with giving the pup a name.

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Naming the Puppy

They’re young and in love
so they think of human names:
Zoe, Ruby, Judy — like the name
of a girl you’d sit next to in math.
They move on to dog baby names,
Lamby, Girl, Puppy.
They like Puppy so for an hour,
that’s what she’s called.
Come here, Puppy, they sing,
her paws — pink, tender — slide
across the room. Puppy’s a sweet name,
I tell them, but soon your puppy
won’t be a puppy, and when she hurtles
through the park her teeth locked
onto a sloppy stick, a pit bull chasing her down,
how’ll it sound when you call, Puppy, Puppy,
your voices airy as frisbees floating
across the grass. I watch the puppy lick
my son’s lips, nibble his girlfriend’s nose,
devour their faces, as if they were made of sugar,
devoted fur ball all ears and eyes,
eyes that have been on this earth before.
By dinnertime her name is Gwen,
a star’s name, a nurse’s, or what you’d call
the middle child of a noisy family.
I watch Gwen pour herself
into their arms. There is no name
for the way she loves them.
No name for a sun that shines only for you.

Tracie began her fascination with dogs and cats by turning her eye as a former investigative reporter on every aspect of living with them, resulting in her encyclopedic resources THE DOG BIBLE: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know and then the THE CAT BIBLE: Everything Your Cat Expects You to Know. Before long, Tracie was established as a leading pet wellness advocate as her all-encompassing books covered everything from medical issues to behavior, nutrition and environmental enrichment.
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Tracie began her career as a radio personality with a live show – DOG TALK® (and Kitties, Too!) – on the local NPR station in the Hamptons, Peconic Public Broadcasting (WPPB) from Southampton, New York (the show is now also carried on the NPR station Robinhood Radio in Connecticut and the Berkshires). DOG TALK® won a Gracie® Award (the radio equivalent of an Oscar) in 2010 as the “Best entertainment and information program on local public radio” and continues weekly after more than 450 continuous shows and 9 years on the air. Tracie’s live weekly call-in show CAT CHAT® was on SiriusXM satellite radio for seven years until the Martha Stewart channel was canceled in 2013.

Tracie lives in Vermont where the Radio Pet Lady Network studio is based, on 13 acres well-used by her all-girl pack – two lovely, lively Weimaraners, Maisie and Wanda, and a Collie-mix, Jazzy.

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