My Dogs and Their Many Names

In the midst of my rising terror over my imminent departure from Manila – and with it, the loss of my home base and the end of a life I’ve known as the norm for quite a few years – it’s worth taking a moment to step back and find comfort in life’s simple pleasures. One of the sweetest pleasures – perhaps the sweetest of all – is the act of reflecting upon the funny ways that people have unintentionally messed up the names of my dogs.

My dogs are named Bop and Chichi. Bop was a dog I accidentally-on-purpose inherited when I rented a house in Davao City. She had been guarding the house I rented, and kind of ended up staying there by default after I moved in. Apparently the son of the house owner was into Barney and Friends, which I didn’t know was still a thing in 2013 – but hey, that makes me feel less old! Here are a few ways people have gotten Bop’s name so very, very wrong:

Pot-pot – Source: A woman I dated for a while in Davao City accidentally referred to Bop by this name in one solitary, immortal text message. For the sake of this poor woman’s privacy and my own, I will say nothing else about our sad, lurid, utterly bizarre pseudo-relationship.

Fox – Source: One day I was taking Bop for a walk around our neighbourhood in Davao City. A little boy, perhaps eight years old, approached and asked, “What’s your dog’s name?” “Bop,” I answered calmly. “Hi, Fox!” he exclaimed with great enthusiasm. I did not shake his budding confidence by correcting him, because the children are our future.

Bob (or possibly “Bab”?) – Source: The Iglesia ni Cristo handyman who has done so much to keep my house in Muntinlupa from collapsing during the last few years. There was a period when he would try to convert me to his religion every time he came over to fix something. When he and an electrician installed a big-ass old school TV antenna in my yard, they wanted to make sure it got a clear signal for the Iglesia ni Cristo channel. His attempts at converting me have fallen flat, and he has since given up; I am still trying to gently correct him whenever he calls my dog “Bob”, but so far I’m not having any luck their,  either.

Buff – Source: A woman from the city veterinarian’s office who wrote my dog’s name in great haste on her rabies vaccination certificate. The vet’s office had set up a free immunization clinic in my neighbourhood, and I literally caught them just as they were driving away, at which point they kindly vaccinated my dogs out of the back of their van. So, I can’t blame her, although I would object that my dog is more lean and sinewy than buff per se.

Chichi was a scrawny little one-month-old ball of fur when my neighbours in Davao passed her on to me. I needed a dog in a pinch, as I was about to go on a long trip and didn’t want to leave Buff – I mean, Bop – alone for that long, even with my next-door neighbour keeping a watchful eye on her. Chichi was originally named Chichay, after a character in a soap opera that was popular at the time. After I flew my dogs to Manila a friend started calling her Chichi, and I, never being that enamored of having my dog’s name be an ephemeral pop culture reference, agreed to officially rename her – especially since Chichi is a lot easier to say, and pairs well with Bop-bop. And here is how people have gotten both of her names wrong:

Chuchay Source: Me. Yes, I was mistakenly calling her this for the first week after I got her, since I adopted her in such haste that I couldn’t be bothered to nail down minor details like, you know, her actual name. I also spent a long time wondering why she didn’t have a tail, and it took me months to build up the courage to ask the woman who gave her to me. To my relief, they hadn’t chopped it off for shits and giggles; she was simply born that way (and, likewise, on the right track), just like her father before her. I never saw her father, but her mother was a strange, lanky, woolly grey creature that would wander up to me on the street and passively allow me to pet her. I hope she was proud of her daughter Chuchay (sic)!

Chuchu – Source: A three-year-old boy. When my friend’s relatives brought their child over, I was a bit nervous: my dogs had never dealt with such a small human before, and I didn’t know if they would understand that their usual greeting of jumping on someone really hard might not be advisable in this case. Luckily they handled the child with loving care, and he especially took a shine to Chichi – everyone else’s favorite dog, but not mine – whom he mistakenly referred to as Chuchu. Unlike me, he at least had the excuse of being three years old.

After writing this post, I realize that my dogs’ names haven’t been mangled quite as diversely as I might have imagined. I suppose this is good for the dignity of my dogs, but not so good for the dignity of my post. Still, animal rights trump post rights, so I suppose it’s all for the best. And with that, this is the proud papa of Chuchu and Buff, signing off!

For more about my dogs and their colourful life stories, look for an upcoming post tentatively entitled “Screw Your Adulthood, Man!”

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