Friday, 8 April 2011

Best Friends

Remember our walk in the park with Simon the other weekend?  This park has a wealth to offer, you know.  Beyond bowling greens and daffodils, even more than medieval archeology there is a pet cemetery.  I'm certain there are many elsewhere, but this is the only one I've ever spent any time in.  All our dogs and cats got buried in the back yard.  Grandmother's got paving stones and angel statues, outside her bedroom window, though I would argue that Duke-the-mad-German-Shepherd was any sort of angel, but never mind.

If you wanted inspiration for pet names you could do worse than this cemetery.  I can offer you Bambi, Bobby, Bop,

Bruno, Bushy, Chino, Judy, Laddie, Lassie, Lucky, Mac, Monty (for a tortoise), Paddy, Panza, Peter, Prince 

Rex, Robin, Rorie, (the not-very-original) Rover,  Sammy, Scrappie, Shandy 

Tanza, Teddy, Tich, Tiger, Toodles, Towzer, Trottie or Tootsie.

I think there is an art to naming pets.  Personally, I prefer to avoid people names.  One doesn't want to call the cat and inadvertently acquire a lodger.  Also, I think a person should give thought to whether they will feel foolish shouting the name down the street.  

Randy, whilst a common enough name in the US, has unfortunate connotations here in Britain; Rodger might best be avoided for the same reasons and I'd be cautious about choosing the name Snookie.  Maybe depends upon your neighbourhood, eh?  In some areas, even shouting 'Whiskey' might be open to misinterpretation.

This pet cemetery seems to have been in use mainly in the 50s and 60s; the latest date I found was 1972.  Perhaps the names Chinky and Nigger wouldn't be wise choices these days.  Personally, I wouldn't name someone I loved Bimbo, but I don't know what it meant back then.

I thought the name 'Chee-Kola of Kinlo' was rather special and, strangely enough, because of the internet I can tell you that it was a registered chow chow bitch belonging to a Mr. H. Smith who lived not far from Northumberland Park at 101 Bamborough Terrace in North Shields.   

Simon thought it a bit creepy that Rover's grave (and his was the only one) was so well tended and decorated.  I suspect his owner or a family member lives near by.

Special mention should also be made of Pop, whose headstone was erected by the RSCPA for loyal and faithful war service, 1939-1945.  


Also of Trixie Fox, who was rescued from the Normandy beaches in 1944 and lived until 1958.


There must be stories - amazing and ordinary - behind all those tombstones.  I picture older men in tweed plus- fours and caps; women wearing wool skirts, headscarves and walking brogues.  I see baskets placed near the coal fire and walks in the rain, drizzle and howling winds included.  They may have varied the walks between the park and the beach, depending upon the weather.  There will have been tennis balls and knotted ropes and holidays planned to include Toodles.  

More than anything, this pet cemetery feels like another time when Britain - like everywhere else - was a very different place to now, that place that Robert Westall wrote that he would go back to like a shot.  It is a nice place to visit.


Rick Stone said...

People and our pets. Our first Minature Schnauzer was named Brandi Jane. Half the time we called her BJ. (Her final resting place is in a small box on a book shelf in our living room, her ashes that is.) While we still had Brandi we acquired our Buddy Joe, who is still with us. Our newest little girl is Bridgit Jeane. We kind of like the "BJ" theme.

Anonymous said...

I found myself thinking as I read that there should be a place for pet obituaries. The passing of a beloved pet, no matter its name, is very significant in people's lives...