I have mentioned before that I often talk to my dog, Spike. What I didn't mention is that others talk to him too.
Although he is as male as the ASPCA spaying and neutering guidelines allow, he is frequently referred to as "she" or "her". I think of this as the "Lady and the Tramp" syndrome, in which all cocker spaniels are assumed to be female. Maybe it's the long ears, which hang down like girlish locks. I know during the Clinton impeachment saga I frequently made note of the fact that Spike looked an awful lot like Linda Tripp.
"She's so cute. What's her name?" people will say. I patiently explain that "his" name is "Spike" and he is handsome, not cute. Alright, he is cute, but I have to maintain some semblance of dignity.
Yesterday as we were taking a slow, aimless walk on a blistering day a middle-aged man wearing a flowered shirt and teal flip-flops leaned over to him, semi-screamed "I don't know why it's so hot!", and walked along without further comment. He might have been gay but I have no way of knowing. However, I think both Spike and I must have had equally befuddled looks on our faces, because the next person who walked by (an equally flamboyant middle-aged woman wearing a teal shirt and flowered flip-flops) said, "She looks so confused. What's her name."
"His name is Spike", I sighed, "but we just call him Lady."