Sunday, September 15, 2013

How Basil Got His Name

When naming our new pug we wanted to choose a name that was appropriately dignified, but that also had a playful quality to it, like the breed.

"My name is Basil, and I'm here to inform you
how to pronounce it correctly!" 

As MD insisted many years ago when I consulted her as to what to name our previous pug, a dog's name should have dignity to it, and also be a good calling name.  She didn't approve of silly names for one's dogs.  And I respect her for that, as she was the one who came up with the name Pompey, after all.

"It is not pronounced Bay-zil,
like the leafy herb used to make pesto."

We initially thought of naming our new pug Bamboo, but quickly dispensed with such a choice because it wasn't properly respectful.

"My name may be spelled the same way as the herb,
but it isn't pronounced the same way.  Much like
someone from Poland is "Polish," and not "polish."

And, besides, Boy couldn't bear the thought of being a middle-aged, gay New York decorator walking through the showrooms at the D&D building with a pug named Bamboo.  It was simply too much.

"My name isn't pronounced the same way as
Basel, Switzerland is pronounced, either."

So we cast around to see what other names we could come up with for our new little fellow.  After lots of backing and forthing I suggested that we name him Basil.

"Basil is not pronounced the same way as Basel,
which is correctly pronounced Bah-zl."
Image courtesy of Amy Park Design

Basil seemed an appropriately dignified name to me, and I liked it because it was rather Wodehouse-ian, in an Englishy, drawing room comedy-ish sort of way.  Much like our own names, Reggie Darling and Boy Fenwick are.

"It is not pronounced Bah-zeel, either,
as in Giambattista Basile, the Italian poet."
Image courtesy of Bridgman Art Library

Besides, I had rather fond associations for the name Basil, as I have always admired the actor Basil Rathbone, and I adored the character Basil Fawlty played by John Cleese in the hilarious English television comedy Fawlty Towers.

"It is pronounced Bazzle, the same way
that the actor Basil Rathbone
pronounced his first name."
Image courtesy of the Basil Rathbone Gallery

For those of you who may not be sure how to pronounce the name Basil, at least in the way it is/was pronounced for the Messers Rathbone and Fawlty, it is pronounced to rhyme with razzle, or dazzle.

"And the same way that Basil Fawlty, of Fawlty Towers,
pronounced his first name, too."
Image courtesy of Wikimedia

And it most decidedly is not pronounced the way the herb basil is, which rhymes with hazel.

"So, don't even think of calling me Bay-zil, okay?
It's pronounced Bazzle!" 

And, unlike Reggie's and Boy's names, which are silly made-up ones, Basil's name is actually his "real" name.  He really is named Basil.  So please, Dear Reader, do him the favor of pronouncing it correctly!

Photographs of Basil (the pug) and basil (the herb) by Boy Fenwick.  All others as noted.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Introducing Basil

It is with pleasure that I introduce you, Dear Reader, to a new member of the Darling household.  His name is Basil.  He's really rather charming.

Basil Darling

As those of you who have lost a beloved pet well know, their absence creates a sad void in one's life.  After Pompey died Boy and I missed him terribly.  We still do.

Reggie, being the pragmatist that he is, decided that the best thing for us to do would be to get a new pug puppy and to embark on a new chapter in our dog-owning lives.  I missed having a pug around the house, and it was in my power to do something about it.  So I did.

But it didn't turn out exactly how I thought it would.

About a week after we put Pompey down I telephoned his breeder to place our names on a list for a  puppy in an upcoming litter, hoping that they might have one sometime this fall.  The breeder I called, Don Ayrton of Cado Pugs, is one of the most respected pug breeders in America and is well known for producing handsome and well-formed pugs, many of which have become champions on the show circuit.  We've kept in touch with Don and his wife Carol over the years, and there was no question in our minds that if we were to get another pug it would come from them.

Don Ayrton of Cado Pugs

When I called and spoke with Don I learned that they did not have any litters on the way, but they did have a fourteen-month-old fellow who was available.  They had kept him to show, but had not been able to do so because only one of his testicles had dropped.  In order to show a dog, Dear Reader, it must be what is known as "intact," meaning complete with all its bells and whistles.  So to speak.

The Ayrtons thus found themselves with a very handsome pug that was no longer a puppy (and therefore not easy to place) and unshowable.  Unless someone was willing to take him as a young dog, he would likely spend the rest of his days as a kennel dog with the Ayrtons.  A very well-cared-for kennel dog, that is, living happily among a dozen or more other pugs in a house in rural Connecticut, which is where the Ayrtons live.

After much discussion amongst ourselves and with friends, Boy and I decided to adopt the little fellow and give him a home.  One week later we drove over to the Ayrtons and picked him up.  We've now owned him for over a month.  Although it all seemed a bit rushed to us (it had only been three weeks since Pompey died), the timing was optimal because we were leaving shortly for a two-week vacation on Nantucket that would be the perfect opportunity to bond with our new little guy.  And that's what we've been doing ever since.

Boy and Basil greet for the first time

We renamed him Basil (he was known by a different name by the Ayrtons), and he seemed almost instantly to know his new name.  He is distantly related to Pompey, whose father is Basil's great-great-grandfather.  Coincidentally Basil and Pompey share the same birthday of May 12th.

Basil is a darling little fellow, Dear Reader, and is very well mannered and easy going.  We are all still adapting to each other, and I am happy and relieved to report that it is going swimmingly.  I have to give the little guy a lot of credit for making such a radical (and for him entirely unexpected) transition in his life with what appears to be a considerable amount of grace and aplomb.

Well done, Basil!

Next: How Basil got his name, and—more important—how to pronounce it correctly

Photographs by Boy Fenwick and Reggie Darling
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