What I didn’t consider when naming my dog Marco


I love dogs. I’m a dog person through and through.  I love them so much that mine did this to me and they still make my life exponentially better.

Along with dogs come certain guarantees. A few that come to mind are unconditional love, memories for life, occasional bad behavior, inevitable heartbreak, and ATTENTION. They want it and they get it. From you, from everybody. While you may not be comfortable walking up and sniffing someone’s crotch before you’ve made eye contact, guess what? Dogs have no qualms about it. You learn how to deal with those interactions, particularly in elevators, where they are a little more awkward. Elevators are like traps and less voluntary.

When walking a dog, expect a lot of attention. And I mean a lot. You’re bound to meet at least one person every time you walk a dog.

This is Marco

When you do, they are bound to ask your dogs name. And, if you tell them your dog’s name is Marco, there’s a more than high probability that they will, almost instantly, say “POLO!”

I’ll give you an example.

Random stranger, “Is he friendly?”

Me, “Yes, he sure is.”

Random stranger, “Cool, can I pet him? What’s his name?

Me, “Absolutely, this is Marco.”

Random stranger, “POLO!”

The first time I might have laughed. As I it became expected and predictable, it became less and less amusing. Eventually, I would only be able to lift my head enough to smirk and a nod as people added, “You probably hear that all the time.” Continued nod.

It’s similar to when I tell people I am from Alaska. Naturally, they asked if I lived in an igloo or say something about daylight or darkness. After 2008, Palin became the new igloo. No, I don’t live in an igloo and no, I don’t know Sarah.

After over 13 years with Marco, I expect people to say ‘Polo’ after I introduce him. Even Marco understands the joke. Some of them even know they are about to say something completely unoriginal, yet they still say it. We’re all guilty.

It's natural to immediately migrate to the obvious. It's hard not to.
It’s natural to migrate, immediately, to the obvious. It’s hard not to.

If you want to be original, I’ll tell you what I’ve never heard. Nobody has ever referred to the original inspiration of his name. No random stranger has ever blurted out, “ISLAND!”

As in, Marco Island, Florida. Not Marco Polo. Next time you encounter someone with a dog named Marco, throw them off.

If you already have a dog named Marco (like me) and meet someone with a dog named Marco, (I have) hold out until the other brings it up. Yes, they have heard it before. A rhetorical question is a lame conversation starter.

Regardless, dogs are awesome and this isn’t a situation unique to Marco. There are probably millions of predictable interactions occurring every hour of every day.


I’m guilty of it too. My friends have a dog named Dakota. Dakota has gotten brave since moving to the desert and discovered he likes surfing on foam pool pads.

Dakota’s family just moved into a new house that has a pool. So, I gave him one. Apparently he loves it! His parents sent me a pic!

I sent them this.



I knew how to share and I showed my dad how good I was


This is my first memory of a secret I failed to keep at my first opportunity. My dad was not happy, but what I did was not nice.

KeepYourBeans_SmallThe occasions were birthdays for two aunts, one from each side of my family. For the occasions, my dad gave cards with cash to both of my aunts. I’m not sure why he divulged the gift amounts to me, but he shouldn’t have. He certainly underestimated my lack of discretion.

He was giving his sister more and my mom’s sister less. Makes sense, right? And generous too. I don’t know any twenty-something who gives cash to a former sister-in-law. Regardless, bad move dad, and right before we left to go to see her.

We were at my grandparent’s house when my dad gave my mom’s sister her card. I was playing in the ‘sandbox’ in the backyard. My cousin, three years younger, was with me. We called it a ‘sandbox,’ but it didn’t contain actual sand. It was more like a box of dirt. It was closer to soil than what you might find on the side of a road. If you dug just under the surface, you would easily discover earthworms. Whatever it was, nobody ever shot a Corona commercial on it.

My aunt, who received her card, came outside to check on the two of us playing in the box of dirt.

I proceeded to inform her, as my father had me, that she, in fact, received less money than my dad’s sister. I didn’t note her expression because I didn’t stop there. I also told her that she shouldn’t be upset because my other aunt was his real sister.

She laughed; I assumed she thought it was cute. While walking back inside I heard her say, “Walt, guess what Travis just told me…” and the door closed. She had a big mouth too.

Soon after, my dad opened the door and charged down the stairs, clearly upset about what I said. I messed up. The message was clear. Just wait until we get home. He returned inside.

SpankingDisclosure_smallBack in the box, my cousin and I continued to unearth earthworms because that’s what we typically did in that box of not sand. I began worrying about the anticipated spanking. I knew it was wrong and shouldn’t have said anything to my aunt. Someday I would learn better, but that day wasn’t the day. We continued to dig for worms as I lamented to my cousin how much I didn’t want to get spanked. She appeared to not care, but she was definitely listening.

Eventually it was time to leave; my dad retrieved me from the worm box. As we walked away, my cousin did it. She said, “Uncle Walter, Travis doesn’t want to be spanked.”

Do you see a theme here?

All I could do was look down and avoid my dad’s piercing eyes as we approached the truck. For the record, I didn’t get spanked that day.