Keeping it simple to cut the mustard
The death of Murray Ball this month reminded me of the first time I saw the Footrot Flats movie.
‘‘Who calls their dog Dog?’’ city-kid me thought. Plenty of people, as it turns out. When I moved to the country my elderly neighbour had a lovely old lab called Dog.
During a yarn over the fence one day, I stupidly quipped about the canine’s unoriginal name.
‘‘Well I couldn’t call him Cat, could I?’’ came the reply.
(Lesson not quite learnt - I probably shouldn’t have asked my friend Tubby how he got his nickname either.)
You’d be hard-pressed to find a working dog with a two-syllable name, a check of the leaderboard at the local dog trials shows.
Cole and Jazz were the top dogs, but they competed against plenty of Macks, Pips and Bobs.
There was a Keep, a Flow and a Groove thrown in for fun.
Even the house dogs (usually small and yappy) have one syllable names. I know of a confused female wire-haired terrier called Rog, but that’s for another column.
A yarn with some farmer friends reveals the one-syllable name is all about the simplicity.
‘‘You have to be able to yell at it in a pissed-off voice quickly,’’ one said. Makes sense.
Afterglow Miami Ink, the moniker of the cocker spaniel that won the top prize at Crufts last week, wouldn’t really cut the mustard then. You’d be a bit embarrassed if your neighbouring farmer heard you shouting that in the middle of a paddock.
And cocker spaniels should only be used for picking up birds you’ve shot, anyway.
Speaking of paddocks though even they have names.
While everyone has a top paddock, a road paddock and a bottom paddock, a high country station near me has paddocks named after previous owners and shepherds, as well as Rollercoaster (undulating land), Thistle Flat (needs a spray) and Wild Thing (rough as guts, apparently).
And the art of giving a simple but meaningful name extends past the fence and the dog kennel.
It took me a long time to work out where The Witch Doctor’s Corner was on my travels home, let alone those named after families that have long left the area.
And where was Bluegum Corner? Where there’s a shelterbelt of macrocarpas, ironically.
A mate of mine drives past it most days on his way to the gooner (that’s the pub - so called because it turns people into goons) in his Gay Mustard, which is what he calls his old series 2 Land Rover.
It’s a rather unfetching shade of yellow.
Or he could be in his Town Car, Bruce (his grader) or the Croftie (a station wagon), could be meeting his mates - Storm, Hummy, Crofter, Spoon Fed, Biggles, Cheese or even Difficult Birth for a pint, if he’s in town.
He may even have his dog Thrush with him - but I’ll leave it to your imagination to guess how that poor labrador got his name.
‘‘Who calls their dog Dog?’’, city-kid me thought. Plenty of people, as it turns out.