One of my favorite aspects of sifting through the tsunami of submissions we receive every year for Mountain Gazette’s Mountain Dog Photo Contest is eyeballing the various dog names, which, needless to say, cover a wide gamut. There are always what I would call “normal— dog names — Sage, Spade, Blue, Ella, Nico, Seamus, Malibu. Always lots of names that end in a phonetic long “e” — Ozzy, Sophie, Kiki, Cali, Bertie. And there are usually lots of names that are mountain-specific — Tundra, Talus, Chinook, Summit. And non-dog animal names — Bear, Hawk, Lobo. And names associated with specific mountains and mountain ranges — Sawatch, Elbert, Denali, Shavano. Often, there are town names — Frisco, Dillon, Juneau. There are names from literature and popular culture — Gandalf, Frodo, Yoda, Stella, Homer, Zool. The most captivating (some would say strange) dog names I have ever come across, however, did not make their way into my life by way of our Dog Photo Contest. There’s one dog that visits our local dog park on occasion named, of all unappealing things, “Pot Roast.” This dog is a bulldog whose main attribute seems to be an ability to slobber so profusely that you have to wonder where all that liquid comes from. Pot Roast jumped up on me one time, and, in the point-five seconds it took me to move away from Pot Roast, his slobber had saturated the front side of one pants leg so profusely it soaked clear through — and here I’m talking about from upper-thigh to ankle — to my leg and, even in the bright New Mexico sun, that leg did not dry for two solid hours, most of which I sat in a local watering hole having people ask me if I had just pissed my pants. The whole time, I could not let go of the feeling that what had drenched my pants was not dog slobber, which is bad enough, but, rather, given the dog’s name, greasy gravy. I finally had to leave the bar to go home and change pants and bath my sticky leg. You can file this one under “Only in New Mexico.” I was walking up Sixth Street from the Silver City Food Co-op one hot summer day, and, from the inside of one of those kinds of cars that are literally held together by predicable, though ambiguous, hyper-liberal bumperstickers proclaiming that Peace is the Way and asking What Would Gandhi Do?, I hear a wild vocal ruckus. There was an aging hippie lady inside that car yelling at the top of her lungs in a way highly unbecoming of an aging hippie lady whose car is adorned with bumperstickers about Gandhi. What she was actually yelling made me ponder hiding behind a light pole, for I did not know the potential ramifications. She was yelling, “BAD KARMA!!! BAD BAD BAD KARMA!!!” Now, in a place as populated with wizards, witches and god-knows-what as is Gila Country, you can understand my immediate concern. I at first thought she was wishing bad karma upon me personally as I passed. I mean, in my grocery bags were indeed some items that, I guess, were one inclined t look at them thus, could be considered karmically less than pure. Even though it was grass-fed, free-range and hormone free, yes, there was some breakfast sausage. And, shit, I did have some tortilla chips, but, hey, they were completely free of GMO ingredients. Then, I thought that maybe the lady was doing nothing more than recognizing that some bad karma was right then visiting her for reasons I could not possibly — and had no desire to — fathom. Maybe she had recently purchased some non-free-range sausage. Maybe she had just eaten a whole handful of chicharrones purchased at a convenience store. Maybe her loud vocalizations were nothing more than paying some sort of penance-via-recognition-of-sins. When I finally mustered the courage the continue walking on by, I noticed that, cowering in the back seat of the car was a guilty-looking dog that had, more than likely, just chewed up a shoe or something. Turns out, the dog was named Karma. Now, who would name their dog such a thing, I don’t know. But there it was. Back when Mountain Gazette’s office was still in Frisco, Colorado, our then-sales manager hooked up with a lady who brought to the relationship a dog named Groovy. Groovy was a big Weimaraner whose eyes did not always point in the same direction. He was also an escape artist non-pareil. One day, my buddy Mark Fox was asked to watch Groovy while the sales manager left the office for a while. Mark’s focus must have wandered, and, next thing he knew, Groovy was gone. Mark dashed out onto Main Street, where, even in a part of the country inclined to cut people their eccentricity-based slack, I’m sure he drew perplexed attention as he ran down the sidewalk shouting at the top of his lungs “Groovy! Groovy!” My dog is named Casey. Occasionally, I am asked if it’s “K.C.” or “Kasey.” But, when she screws up, “Bad, Casey” is a lot better than “Bad, Karma,” and, when she runs off, at least I don’t have to run around yelling “Here, Pot Roast” or “Groovy!” Life in New Mexico is weird enough without having a weirdly named dog.
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