Six months ago, my sister got a cat. For a few days, the family debated on whether we would name him Pippin, after the hobbit, or Dobby, after the house elf.
Finally, we decided that Pippin would be his primary name.
But Dobby would be his secondary name.
Because, according to T.S. Eliot, all cats have three names.
The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn’t just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I’m as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
First of all, there’s the name that the family use daily,
Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James,
Such as Victor or Jonathan, or George or Bill Bailey –
All of them sensible everyday names.
There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,
Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames:
Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter –
But all of them sensible everyday names.
But I tell you, a cat needs a name that’s particular,
A name that’s peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular,
Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?
Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat,
Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum –
Names that never belong to more than one cat.
But above and beyond there’s still one name left over,
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover –
But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.
From Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats
And there you have it.
So for the past six months, Pippin has enjoyed a regular hobbit’s comfortable lifestyle. Breakfast, second breakfast, elevensies, luncheon, etc. in addition to a plethora of mischievous toys (Star Wars themed because that’s somewhere near the Shire) including a “firework” (laser) to chase. He could enjoy the outdoors whenever he pleased as soon as he figured out how to work the dog door. So, good food, good earth, and good company…everything a hobbit could love.
But being a hobbit, especially a Took, there was a little spark in his heart for adventure. Yesterday morning when I took the dog for a walk, Pippin followed us all the way to the end of the neighborhood. At the end of the neighborhood, there is a park. Pippin clearly had one of those moments, just like Sam, where he realized he’d never been that far from home before. He froze, staring into the park, then darted off back in the direction of home. I debated whether to follow him, or whether to continue the walk with the extremely impatient dog. I decided to speed walk the dog and expected that Pippin would be home when we got home.
Obviously, that did not happen.
Pippin went on an adventure.
Our family wandered around the neighborhood several times over the next eight or so hours. No sign. I even went out with his food bowl and tapped a spoon against it all through two neighborhoods, since usually he wants to eat every few hours and that is his favorite signal that food is waiting for him. But he wasn’t interested. Or his adventure was much further than we anticipated.
Night fell in Middle Earth. Pippin did not return.
As I got ready for work at 5 a.m. this morning, I listened to the silent house for the little jingle bell on his collar. But it wasn’t there.
When I opened the door to leave, I heard it. A tiny little jingle. “Pippin?”
And there he was trotting up the driveway. He came straight to me, and let me pick him up. I took him back into the house. Then I left for work because if I waited one more minute I would be late.
Apparently all day Pippin’s been eating and sleeping, as a hobbit would do after a long, 19 hour adventure.
But now the question is…will he be like Bilbo, always longing for another adventure, or like Pippin, happy to stay in the Shire and prosper there?
Also, what would’ve happened if Dobby was his primary name?