"I am not cut out to be a dog person."
These words flew from my lips more than once that first two weeks as did a number of other colorful expressions and phrases such as: "Why God? Why?" and "Kill me NOW.""
As I said before, the puppy operated on a schedule that I in my freelance adulthood could no longer understand. For example, it woke up every morning at sunrise, and stood by my bed sniffing. It was just tall enough then, to clear the edge of the mattress with that pink nose and I learned quickly what others already knew, that simply opening my eyes to acknowledge this act was tantamount to a standing ovation. It inspired dog dancing.
I was lucky in that from the first night forward, she never doused the carpet down during the night. I'd get up reluctantly and congratulate her on it and the minute we'd step across the threshold of the bedroom, she'd squat - before I could even get my shoes on, before there was coffee, or even a lucid thought in my head - there was cursing. It didn't seem right but I blindly assured myself that it wouldn't last forever and it didn't. It lasted about four or five weeks, which only felt like forever.
She needed a name.
I tried not to rush this despite friends who were already making suggestions. If she had been a male dog, it would've been easy. I could've named a male after something on the midway or some old ride jock. Corndog, Harry, Mad Dog, Jimmy; the possibilities were endless but girl's names were different. I couldn't decide. Finally, I wrote a bunch of names on strips of paper and tossed them into the pile on my desk. If I remember right they went something like this: Yo-yo, Tammy, Pearl Bianco, Cupcake, Stella, and Rosie. The first piece of paper I picked up and opened was Stella. I called it out and she came trotting into my office from the other room. Now understand, I had called out a gazillion names in the week prior, with no response at all so it seemed pointless to go any further.
"Alright, I declare your name is Stella", I said to her.
It turned out to be a good choice although if I had to name her now that I actually know her, I'd call her Sunny. Just like every carny I ever knew, her favorite place in the universe, is outside - in the sun.
(Note: Pearl Bianco was the first person to ever talk to me about life on a carnival. She had been told not to, which made it all the more attractive. We wrote each other for years and although she hasn't passed on yet, that I'm aware of, I really miss her funny, insightful letters)