Got an absolutely fascinating request last week. A reader from Canada wrote:
We are about to get a new dog, a beautiful purebred baby Doberman. We want to Name her ‘River”, because we have a small river running through our ranch (our current 10 month old male is called ‘Rancher’).
This seems simple enough. Not. Purebred breeders always create a ‘theme’ name for each litter. So, the way the naming works is, the name of the breeder comes first, then the full chosen name of the dog. The full name of the dog can be shortened for everyday use. Example: Our breeder’s name is Braebrook’s, they are naming another puppy To Be Or Not To Be, and the every-day name will be Toby. If asked what the full name is, the answer would be, Braebrook’sTo Be Or Not To Be.
With that info in mind, we’ve learned that the theme for River’s litter is “Shakespeare”. So, we are now trying to connect our everyday name (River) with Shakespeare. I’ve searched everywhere!!! I’m stumped.
Got that? It gets trickier, as I learned that there’s a max of 30 characters, counting spaces and punctuation. “Braebrook’s” takes up 11 characters, so the challenge is to come up with a Shakespeare reference that has some meaningful connection such that it could be reduced to “River” as a short, day-to-day name.
The reader had already found “Fruitful River” ( from Hamlet’s “fruitful river in my eye” ) but didn’t love it, and I agree – nobody’s going to recognize that as Shakespeare at first glance.
My first thought turned to Ophelia, and “Willow Grows Aslant A Brook”. It’s a bit of a dark reference, sure. But there’s some real poetry in that scene. That’s too many letters, though, so we’d have to settle for something like ‘Slanted Willow’. I later learned that they do in fact have a recently planted willow tree near the river, so that’s a contender. And yes, in case anybody thinks the same way I do, I did write back “For the love of god don’t let anybody climb it!” when they told me that.
I flip through my thesaurus and my reference material and come up with some other logical contenders.
“Good Master Brook” is a nice Merry Wives reference, but this is a girl dog so it’s not a great match.
I find that I like “Let Rome in Tiber Melt”, from Antony and Cleopatra. I’m even asked to provide additional context and explanation for that quote, but ultimately they’re still liking Slanted Willow.
I bring in Bardfilm, who has forgotten more about this subject than I’ll ever know. He mentions “What News On the Rialto” which I like (having been there myself), but Rialto really is more about the district, rather than the bridge. The river connection is a bit tenuous.
And then, just like that, it hits us. How could we have missed it? I kicked myself when I realize that I’d forgotten the most obvious Shakespeare river reference. I sent it off to my reader, who immediately fell in love with it as well.
Figured it out?
Ladies and gentlemen, introducing Braebrook’s Sweet Swan of Avon, aka River :