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When Pets and People Share Names

My husband and I had three beautiful children, a boy and two girls. He had chosen my son’s name, and we chose the names of the girls together. We wanted to have another baby sometime, and I thought to myself, if I have a boy, I’ll name him Luke. I didn’t even consult my husband; I just knew his name should be Luke, and I told my husband so. Fortunately, he agreed.

That weekend, our neighbors dropped by with some news – they had just purchased a new puppy, a black lab. He was as cute and friendly as a puppy could be. “Guess what we named him?” they asked. Before we could answer, they told us. “Luke!”

“Luke?” I answered. “That was the name I chose for our next child!” I was hoping they would change the name, but since they had the puppy, and I didn’t have a baby, Luke it was.

Just months later, however, I found out I was expecting, and the ultrasound revealed what I already knew – it was a boy! A boy I would name Luke – or would I? Next door, Luke the puppy was growing into Luke the dog – did I want my baby to share his name?

I wrestled with my dilemma for months, asking friends and family what they thought. Luke the dog didn’t look like the typical black lab – he was as large as a Great Dane, with a loud bark, lots of drool, and a questionable look in his eye. We heard him every day and saw him anytime we stood by the split-rail fence to visit with our friends. Luke the dog… Luke the baby… Luke the dog… Luke the baby…

No matter, I finally told myself. Luke was his name. We’d just have to work it out somehow.

Luke was born, and all went smoothly until his first get-together at our neighbors’ home. Their family and friends were there, and all knew Luke the dog quite well. I awkwardly introduced Luke the baby, but, unlike me, they didn’t think anything of it. One of the relatives already had a dog named Lily, the same name as my daughter.

Luke the baby is now Luke the four-year-old boy. Occasionally, there is still some confusion when we visit at the fence and both Luke the boy and Luke the dog are jumping up on it. My neighbor will shout sternly, “Get down, Luke!” and my Luke, rather startled, will start to climb off. But the name suits him well (Luke the boy, that is), and, because of the experience, we’ve given our pets names like Ice Cream, Peanut Butter, and Pumpkin. I think we’re pretty safe with food names, but then, Gwyneth Paltrow named her daughter Apple…

Author: Samantha Bell

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