Of puppies and piglets

little brown dog2There are more important things than wine, and one of them is, of course, dogs. I can’t say that my weekend has been lacking in the former, but it has been dominated by the eruption into my little household of a new puppy. Incidentally I find it rather significant (but of what I’m not sure) that the first question people ask about a new baby is “boy or girl?”, while about a new puppy they tend to ask: “What’s its name?”, while seemingly content with the “it” status.

Well, I fear “its” (his!) name is not yet finalised, and the matter has been causing me pleasant anguish. I rather liked Ralph or Rafe or Rolf (inevitably Ralphie, Rafie or Rolfie), but Angela Lloyd, another dog lover, coming to visit the new arrival, reacted with such horror to the idea (especially in the diminutive) that I felt obliged to reconsider.

There were also some other ideas (including Danny), but I seriously considered the name “Jakkals” (Afrikaans for jackal), which is also the name of Rosa Kruger’s little Jack Russell. But another influential friend was rather scornful of this, and suggested turning it into Jack. Or, conceivably, Jak. With the compromise possibility of a full name (used when venturing into the Swartland) of Jakkals du Plessis.

That uneasy solution I am seriously contemplating for the moment. Meanwhile the little scrap who is sleeping on my foot as I type this, is also Little Brown Dog. Which is at least descriptive. Actually, he’s dark beige-brown, I suppose (more beige than he appears in the photo above) – more or less the colour we people would also all be after a few generations of international miscegenation through which we all became proper mongrels – braks. Just as I tend to like ordinary brown dogs braks, I suspect the world would be better off if we were all mongrels too.  (Not to mention if we were as friendly and nice as dogs).

piglet-colourBut. Well. My present indignation results from a bit of googling related to an overwhelming bit of childhood prompting. Like most people of my culture and class, I was brought up with A A Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh. Oh, you too? Remember Piglet? Well, Little Brown Dog has rather irresistibly reminded me of him. Although I was horrified when I did a straight google for Milne’s Piglet, and came up with a whole lot of colourful, mostly strident pink, rather appallingly kitsch and vulgar images (see example, right). Again, as I’ve asked before and as just about everyone of a certain age is surely obliged to occasionally ask with anguish: What dreadful things have they done with my childhood?!

piglet1I was obliged to add the word “original” to my google request to get a selection of the lovely, simple monochrome drawings of the Piglet I grew up with, the work of E H Shepard.

Why, I wonder, is black-and-white so often more profound and affecting than colour? In drawings and photographs too. Sometimes it is surely because they allow the imagination to enter.

Mid-brown-beige, with a white patch on the chest, is also miraculously marvellous colouring, I’m thinking.

3 thoughts on “Of puppies and piglets

  1. with our birds we almost run out of varietals!.
    Shiraz and Pino produced Mouvedre and Grenache, followed by Pinotage, we now have Cinsaut!

  2. Hey, Dave – I did think of plundering grape varieties for a name, as Angela Lloyd has done – her current mad labrador is Syrah, but decided against it. As to running out – never fear. Even if you just stick to the Robinson et al book, you’ve got the choice of 1368, not to mention innumerable aliases and synonyms. Though, while Mavrodaphne would be a great name for beird or dog, I think there’d be problems with the likes of Zlatarica Vrgorska (or a variety commonly mistaken for it, Zlatarica Blatska Bijeli).

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