Seventeen reasons not to ask the Internet for suggestions on naming a new puppy.

I realise I am expected to only post articles here concerning email exchanges and situations I find myself in for the amusement of others, but there is a new puppy in the house and it is my website so I am posting an article about puppies. Not everything has to be about you.

I have no idea how it happened, I was probably drugged, but we have a puppy in the house. Apparently she is going to live with us for the next ninety-odd dog years which is quite a commitment. I was a little concerned about that as the only commitments I generally make are those concerning events at least a week away, which gives me time to think of a way of getting out of them.

I have never lived with a puppy before. When I was young, my sister received a puppy for Christmas but slept with it that night and must have rolled over in her sleep and suffocated it because it was dead the next morning. After many tears, a replacement puppy was found which managed to survive two days; it was playing under an ironing board, pulled the cord, and the iron fell onto its head killing it instantly. The next replacement puppy lasted nearly a week before dying of Parvo, so my sister ended up getting a goldfish. I'm not sure what happened to the goldfish but the bowl was used to house a hermit crab less than a week later, sea-monkeys a few weeks after that, and, eventually, pens.

My first mistake with the new puppy was listening to the advice of other people in regards to buying a 'crate'. "Puppies like the crate," they told me, "it gives them their own safe space, etc." As it turns out, a crate is a cage. People call it a crate because it is easier to justify keeping a puppy in a crate than a cage. Perhaps, instead of chicken farmers bothering to go to the expense of producing "cage free" eggs, they could just call the cages 'crates' and write on the carton that chickens like crates so that everybody can pretend it isn't something that it is and get cheaper eggs.

I purchased a cage and assembled it on the kitchen floor while the puppy played with the instructions next to me. I then sat looking at both the puppy and the cage for a few minutes before disassembling the cage and putting it out on the sidewalk for the next morning's trash pickup. Then I thought that one of the rubbish truck guys might take it home and use it, so I broke the door off the cage and threw it into a neighbour's hedge.

My second mistake was asking for naming suggestions on the internet. While it was tempting to name the puppy something amusing, this would mean being stuck with a family member named something like Sergeant Chocolate Hat well after the joke wore thin.

Here are just eighteen of the suggestions I received after posting the words "All suggestions welcome" on Twitter and Facebook. I have a suspicion that some of these may have been more aimed at getting me in trouble when I call the puppy's name at the park than actually being helpful:

Emergency Food Supply
Mr. Sassypants
Those Things You Put Under Chair Legs To Protect The Carpet
Free Candy
Successful Goiter Surgery
The USS Pogy
Derpington Derp
Shaboopy Harris LaGrange III
Battlestar Galactica
Office Secret Santa
Professor Gregory Whitesocks
The Thatcher Era
Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo
Banana Hammock

I actually liked the name Laika. Laika was a Soviet space dog that became the first animal to orbit the Earth.

She was a stray found on the streets of Moscow. Soviet scientists figured stray animals would be more accustomed to enduring conditions of extreme cold and hunger. To adapt Laika to the confines of the tiny cabin, she was kept in progressively smaller cages for periods up to 20 days. Which she probably liked because I have heard it gives them their own safe space etc. Before the launch, one of the scientists took Laika home to play with his children, later stating "I wanted to do something nice for her; She had so little time left to live." Which I thought was nice.

Laika was placed in the cockpit of Sputnik 2 and blasted into space on November 3, 1957. After reaching orbit, the rocket's nose cone failed to separate, preventing the thermal control system from operating correctly which resulted in the cabin temperature rising. After approximately five hours into the flight, no further signs of life were received from the spacecraft. Five months later, after 2,570 orbits of the Earth, Sputnik 2 disintegrated, along with Laika's remains, during re-entry.

So the new puppy is named Laika. It isn't amusing and it doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, but it is a kind of homage and, maybe in some 'dreamcatcher making hippie' way, a part of all the love and attention she receives will somehow find its way back to a scared stray orbiting several hundred kilometres above the earth in her last few moments.

And, yes, I realise that is a bit sentimental but with the addition of another female to the household, making it a three to one ratio, I won't be overly surprised if I start menstruating any day now. Laika has lived with us for only two weeks and I am already more attached than I thought possible. She sleeps on the bed, follows us everywhere, and is spoilt well beyond any sane degree. Stock shares in squeaky toys probably went up several points overnight.

Also, for those that told me that without a 'crate' it would take longer to house-train her, while there were a few accidents (which I probably carried on way more about than necessary as I am the kind of person that holds their breath when walking past a dog poo on the street because I read somewhere that if you can smell it, it means you are breathing in fecal mist), it took Laika less than two weeks to learn to scratch at the door when she needs to go out.

Although displaying the ability to learn without the aid of wire, there are, admittedly, some tasks Laika is finding surprisingly difficult. At the age of ten weeks, she still cannot operate the dishwasher and the other day, while working on the car together, I asked her to hand me an adjustable spanner and she brought me a sock. There is no circumstance that I can think of in which a sock would be required for auto maintenance unless maybe tying several socks together, or maybe just a couple of long socks, as a makeshift fan-belt or flag.

Here are a few other simple tasks Laika seems to be having trouble with:

Playing tennis
She has a fairly solid forehand and can slice on her back-swing, but her serve is shocking. In our last match, which resulted in a pretty poor effort of six-zero, six-one, six-zero, I counted a total of thirty-eight double-faults.

Setting ascension and declination
Right ascension is measured eastward along the celestial equator while declination is measured in degrees north or south of the celestial equator. Mixing them up and mistaking the neighbour's yellow bug light on their porch for Saturn means it is someone else's turn to use the telescope and pretend to see things.

Making coffee
There is no excuse for mistakenly selecting a decaf k-cup. Also, there are very few rules in our household but one of them is to fill the Keurig water reservoir for the next person if it is empty. It really isn't that hard to remember and takes less than a minute. Courtesy is contagious. Also, you have to use water from the cold tap. I don't know why you can't use water from the hot tap, someone told me once it was poisonous or something.

Reloading a handgun
Eject the spent magazine and push in the new one until it clicks. A three year old child can do it. I proved this last week while baby-sitting for friends. Until Laika can get this simple procedure down in under ten seconds, she will be of little use in a shoot-out with police or during a zombie apocalypse. Her aim has improved a lot since she stopped anticipating recoil but this counts for little if she is dependent on others to reload her weapon.

Setting depth of field
Yes, the shots of under the couch were nice and the angles are quite creative but there is little point in spending so much on a camera that is permanently set to auto. She may as well use a telephone camera.

Flying a remote control helicopter
The lever on the left controls elevation, the right direction. While Laika grasped this fairly quickly, I have had to remind her several times to let go of the left lever if the helicopter hits something. Otherwise the propellers will break. They are just plastic and I am not buying a fifth helicopter.

Playing Mortal Kombat
Scorpion's fatality move is forward, up, up, square - not forward, up, square, square. You have to push the up arrow twice. Also, you can't just keep doing the same button sequence to make Scorpion shoot out his spear and say "get over here" every time. You have to mix it up or it isn't fair for the other player. If she keeps doing it, she can play against the computer because it is just wasting my time.

And there you have it. I have taken probably another thousand or so photos of Laika but I will spare you the task of having to scroll through images of her skateboarding, driving a speedboat, playing chess, and defusing a bomb I made out of cardboard and wires from a broken lamp. There are no photos of Laika in a cage.


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