(Justin ⇒ Jasdev, 9/21/20)
> The next prompt is full-corgi, from naming to the adoption process to knowing the time was right, I want to hear all about this. > > — Jasdev, in letter #17.
First, because pictures speak a thousand words (and dog pictures speak seven thousand), here’s Telemachus:
I’d defer to my loving partner H for the process questions — she was, as we have phrased it in this house of ours — the DRI (directly responsible individual) for Project Telemachus, and I would be doing the research and work she did looking through shelters and breeders and various canine ingress processes a disservice by trying to summarize it myself. (From my perspective, the only commentary I can provide is that there is a hither-to unmet market demand for a web design firm specializing purely in pet adoption firms.)
One arena where I really can’t defer, though, is the choice in name.
(Or Telly, his more common name in the house, and the only condition under which H would agree to the name.)
(Or Telly Belly, when, well, he’s showing his cute little belly. See below.)
Telemachus (Greek for far-fighter, ironic given Telly’s, uh, stature) is Odysseus’s son in The Odyssey.
I don’t particularly love Homer’s Telemachus: his characterization in Circe, Madeleine Miller’s delightful retelling of the Epic Cycle, is a little more well-rounded. But it had always been a particularly cute name in the back of my head for a puppy. (I had one stored in the back of my head for a while — Ein, as an homage to Cowboy Bebop — but that has grown a little hackneyed in recent years, I think.)
When I floated Telemachus as a name to H, I was giving it as a half-joke, but she was surprisingly amenable — especially with the “no, you can just call him Telly” proviso.
She also brought up that the name was also fitting for an anecdote that I had completely forgotten about: during our first date, we chatted about our favorite books, and I mentioned that mine was — at the time, and potentially still — Emily Wilson’s translation of the Odyssey. Because it was a first date and she didn’t quite realize how much of a nerd I am, she assumed I was full of shit until the third date, when I lent her my copy.
We’d been talking about a hypothetical dog for a while: we are both dog people, and ever since coronavirus really hit Seattle and one of H’s coworkers (and one of mine!) got puppies the pressure (and inclination) amped up a little more.
In late spring and early summer, the talks shifted from quasi-fantastical (“It’ll be so nice when we have a dog to play fetch with on Green Lake…”) to quasi-logistical (“When we get a dog, do you think we’d keep them in the guest room or in our room?…”) Pair that with a sequence of dog-sitting adventures we had with our friends Em and Otto (a corgi and American Eskimo, pictured bow) and by mid-June we had full-on dog fever.
I think I would be hard pressed to say the time was right. Quarantine gives us a handful of unique advantages (we’re always at home, which makes monitoring Telly much easier), as does owning a house (a backyard is much easier for late-night eliminations compared to an apartment). But I’m a change-averse human at heart, and H and I are both creatures of routine — we like our quiet Sunday mornings and our synchronized workout schedules and all of that. So there was always the one part in the back of our heads that said “mm, maybe we should do this next year instead.”
But what tipped us over the edge were the photos, frankly. Here’s the first one we saw of our pup:
I don’t know, man. It was something of an infohazard: once that tiny picture seared itself into my brain I couldn’t imagine life without him. And it’s been hard — my productivity is down and will be down for the foreseeable future, and our sleep schedules are, uh, chaotic — but now more than ever I can’t imagine life without him.
On the subject of dogs: you’ve texted me a couple dog pictures of your own but I haven’t inquired much further. What’s your family dog’s name?