Sam came with her name, which is a fine name, but not necessarily a name I’d give a pet. If I’d actually had the opportunity to name Sam, she would have been given a name generally reserved for pets, hillbillies or very old people, and it wouldn’t have been anything like Sam or even Renee or Becky or Bobby Jo. On the other hand, it also wouldn’t have been anything like Spot or Fluffy or Spike or Princess, either. The pets I’ve named include Jonesy (not named after the cat in “Alien”, he was named after Indiana Jones – hey, I like Harrison Ford), Dakota, Sage (ok, ok, Kendra named Sage, but I had veto power), Puff (I was in 6th grade and he was white and fluffy, give me a break – I adored stuffed animals and thought Shaun Cassidy should grace more Tiger Beat covers back then, too ) and there was Sally, which breaks my rule, but I was 6, she was a guinea pig and I gave her the second most beautiful name I knew at the time – the first being Ruthy and that belonged to my favorite doll (look, when you’re limited to only reading Dick & Jane books on your own or the occasional Dr. Seuss, you’ll find little Cindy Lou who’s name hanging off your pet’s ID tags, too). At least give me a few points for both Sir Gnawalot and Lady Nibblet, my regally named hamsters from 4th grade.
And really, the biggest beef I have with Sam’s name is that most people tend to think she’s male. At this point, Sam would like me to point out that she doesn’t care, because she’s not wrapped up in the pronoun game. She only cares about food and for that matter, she would add that she doesn’t know the different between “he” or “she” when anyone is speaking, but she does know “Sam” and that sometimes follows with a little food and if food is involved, she doesn’t care that you even call her “Sam” – whatever works for you as long as you hand it over, nice and slow – there’s no need for anyone to get hurt.
Still, after seeing our fair share of specialists and their assistants and receptionists over the past few weeks, I find I say “she” every time they say “he” or I say “her” if they offer a “him” and there always seems to be a battle of wills until the conversation devolves into “she she she” versus “him him him” until one of us leaves with Sam in tow.
So, I want to clear up a little myth – not all dogs are male. I know, I know, it’s hard to believe, but I have it on the best authority that sometimes dogs named “Maggie” are actually female. For that matter, not all cats are female. Get up and walk away from the screen if you need to take a break; I know I’m throwing a lot at you. You see, dogs and cats are mammals, not single cell organisms, so the whole asexual reproduction thing is completely out of the question for survival of the species. I think most puppy mills will back me up at this point (guys, step away from the racks of small cages and your AKC paperwork and help me out here). It’s crazy, I know, but there are actually males and females of each species and sometimes these animals have gender neutral names like “Sam”, which can be short for “Samantha” or “Samuel”.
See, Sam came by her flat-ish tummy honestly. I promise, she didn’t come up to us one day and say “mom, I think I’m a girl – can we consult a surgeon about making a change and load me up on some hormones?” Since Sam only knows “Sam”, “sit”, “outside”, “bedtime” and “go to your room” she can’t really manipulate those into a request for gender reassignment.
So, if you hear me challenge your “he” with a “she” when referring to my dog, just roll with it. I know she’s got a goofy name for a girl, but it can be a girl’s name, too. And even if I were batshit crazy and she was a male, just be nice to the crazy person and don’t set me off – I might gum something you prize.