Dejah Thoris, Princess of Mars

Summer, left, and Dejah

I had to work that Friday, so it was up to Red to make the pick. While I put a newspaper together in Sturgeon Bay on Oct. 4, 2013, she drove to Bonduel to meet with a breeder who had two English cream golden retriever puppies left. As was our habit, we already had the name.

The previous year a movie called John Carter had bombed at the box office and was being called the biggest flop in the history of Walt Disney Pictures. We watched it on DVD a few months after the big disaster and were flummoxed, because it was a brilliant movie. I’ve seen people say, “For all of its flaws, John Carter is much better than its reputation,” or some variation of faint praise along the lines of “It’s not that bad.” Bollocks, say I. The film is brilliant.

And so, when it was time to find a companion for Willow The Best Dog There Was, who had been our only canine companion for two or three years — rare for a couple who started with three and almost never had fewer than two dogs in our 26 years — I lobbied hard to name her Dejah.

Or, more precisely, because you’re supposed to give a purebred dog a long, fancypants name, Dejah Thoris, Princess of Mars, after the heroine of the Edgar Rice Burroughs book who was played so terrifically by Lynn Collins in the film.

Because I wanted any excuse to tell people how desperately I wanted them to watch John Carter and be as blown away as I was.

“Oh, what a cute puppy! What’s her name?”

“Dejah! We named her after Dejah Thoris, Princess of Mars, you know, from that great movie that nobody went to see last year!”

On her way home Red stopped at the Door County Advocate office — the paper had one of those then — and introduced Dejah to everybody. She was, of course, a big hit because she was and is still adorable. When I see someone from those days, the conversation inevitably turns to, “And how is Dejah?”

Dejah tormented Willow as puppies do — karma has finally come as 2-year-old Summer torments her older sibling on a regular basis — and I wrote the little dickens into the Myke Phoenix series by telling the episode The Puppy Cried ‘Murder’ from the point of view of Paul Phillips’ 4-month-old puppy named Goombah, who turns out to be the reincarnated soul of an Astor City homicide victim. That’s Dejah on the cover.

Willow and Dejah, otherwise known as Dejah and Willow, became my favorite dynamic duo among the many dogs we shared a home with. Willow’s subtle sense of humor combined with Dejah’s impish playfulness made the perfect pairing.

And much as Willow grew to be a beautiful willowy dog, Dejah also grew into her name. If ever a dog deserved to be named after a feisty alien princess, this beast is definitely otherworldly.

Why am I telling you all this? The more careful readers among you already know why: In the first paragraph I mentioned that Dejah’s adventure with us began on Oct. 4, 2013, which duh! is exactly 10 years ago today. And if dog years really do equal seven human years, then this also is that moment in time when Dejah and I are the same age. 

Happy anniversary, Dejah!

Like me, she tends to limp a little around the house these days as aging joints betray her, but Dejah is still an imp. You didn’t think it was me who dropped my slipper in the middle of the living room, did you?

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