Let Slip The Puppy of War

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 :

5 thoughts on “Let Slip The Puppy of War

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hi Duane,

    Keir here, co-owner of "River" (Braebrook's Sweet Swan of Avon) and possibly your greatest fan up here in the great white north of Canada. I just wanted to thank you again for your help and let you know that I enjoyed reading your blog update about the 'dog naming' experience we shared together. This was such a fun adventure to have; difficult for me in the beginning, but you made it thoroughly enjoyable in the end. Tammy and I are very pleased with our chosen Shakespeare-themed name for River and, inspired by you, we both are keen set some time aside to learn a little more about this fellow called Shakespeare 🙂 Thank you for all your help!

    Sincerely, Keir

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hello Again Duane,

    I was remiss in extending our appreciation to Bardfilm for the assistance provided to you. Friends and colleagues who help us navigate puzzling situations are worth their weight in gold!

    Thank you again, Keir

  3. First, that's quite a good dog there. Good dog.

    Thanks for acknowledging my role—I'm glad to help with all sorts of Shakespearean puzzles, and this was one of the fun ones!

    That said, I'll take a page from something Shakespeare Geek said to me and note that I am willing to take payment in Tim Horton's doughnuts—at your earliest convenience.

    Take care!

    kj (Bardfilm)

  4. Anonymous says:

    She is a beauty isn't she kj!

    So you like Tim Hortons doughnuts 🙂 Funny, I think everytime a Canadian goes south they look forward to a Krispy Kreme doughnut (they might actually be in Canada now).

    We'd prefer to treat you to some Fanny Bay oysters. They are harvested directly in front of our property, are world famous and found on fine restaurant menus all over the world. A little bit about the neck of the woods we live in.

    Best, Keir

  5. Mmmm. Sounds wonderful!

    Doughnuts, oysters, and Doberman Pinschers. What other than Shakespeare could bring those three things together?

    kj (Bardfilm)

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