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A Crown of Asphodels

This story is a collaboration written with Alby Mangroves under the penname Mal and Alby for the Beyond the Pale 2 Contest. Be warned, there are *Dark Themes.* We hope you enjoy reading our story — many thanks to LJ Summers for her Beta expertise, and to LightStarDusting for pre-reading support.

Hysteria — A once common medical diagnosis made exclusively in women and widely discussed in the medical literature of the late 19th century. Sufferers exhibited a wide array of symptoms including faintness, nervousness, muscle spasm, shortness of breath, irritability, and loss of appetite for food or sex. Sigmund Freud famously tended to numerous patients afflicted with the above issues in addition to neurological symptoms such as numbness, weakness/paralysis, loss of speech, fainting (syncope), and gait problems (Astasia-abasia) with no neurological cause. His theory that psychological distress transforms into physical symptoms, gives the condition it's current name: Conversion Disorder.

Laudanum (aka Tincture of Opium) — By the 19th century, laudanum was used in many patent medicines to "relieve pain, to produce sleep, to allay irritation, to check excessive secretions, to support the system, and as a soporific." Laudanum contains all derivatives of opium including morphine, heroin, and codeine, causing it to have a profound vomit-inducing effect. Innumerable Victorian women were prescribed the drug for relief of menstrual cramps and vague aches. Nurses also spoon-fed laudanum to infants and children, primarily as a cough suppressant. The Romantic and Victorian eras were marked by the widespread use of laudanum in Europe and the United States.

Pharmakon — A Greek term meaning both poison and elixir; it is that which wounds yet also heals; the cause and the cure. It is a complex term meaning sacrament, remedy, poison, talisman, or intoxicant. The modern day word "pharmacology" stems from the same root.

Gramercy Park, New York, Spring 1884

"Do try these eclairs, Isabella, they're really quite delicious." Her mother drones, and Isabella's eyes lower demurely to her plate to prevent an inappropriate display of spirit.

She is far too upset to eat, and regards the sticky-looking pastries with what she hopes is polite detachment and not the revulsion she actually feels.

"Young Mr. Newton has recently accepted a position of some prestige with the Bank of New York, my dear," her mother continues. Apparently, she aims to fill the morning with incessant appraisals of Michael Newton's credentials as a proper suitor for her prized daughter.

"Please, there's no need for all this formality, Renée. Let us call him by his Christian name, Michael."

Abigail Newton titters, and Isabella's blush rises against her will, knowing it will be misconstrued. She can feel all eyes on her, measuring and calculating.

"Yes, of course, Abigail." Renée defers while under the table Isabella pinches the fleshy webbing between her thumb and forefinger to stop herself from crying. She can't bear to look at either of them right now, busy as they are assessing her like livestock.

Sitting stiffly erect so as not to crease her cream silk morning gown, she quietly endures the remainder of Mrs. Newton's visit. As protocol demands, her eyes remained downcast, her conversational gambits polite and appropriate, and she is sure that Mrs. Abigail Newton sees her as the pinnacle of virginal humility and, therefore, a good match for her only son.

Inside, Isabella is screaming.
What's In a Name?

In honor of the Westminster Kennel Club's dog show over the last couple of nights, I thought it was appropriate to offer up this post. I've watched dog shows off and on over the years, and at one time in my life, I showed cats (which is and isn't a whole different thing).

I have long wondered about pedigreed dog naming conventions because while a dog might be registered as Sir Glittersparkle Snarksalot, he's mostly known as Henry or something equally banal and completely unrelated to the fancypants name. (Generally speaking, that's not my experience in the pedigreed cat world.)

While I was up visiting Leo, his breeder, Barb Robinson, sent a parcel of goodies for Leslie and I. In there was a copy of a Canadian (yes, Leo came from the Great White North, lol) Collie magazine that included a full page ad (pictured below) telling the world that Leo is now being trained as a service dog. Clearly, she is very proud of him. As you'll note, the ad features not only a gorgeous picture of Leo, but also his fancypants (registered) name: Chippenhook's Gold Nugget. Chippenhook is her kennel or family name, so technically his name is Gold Nugget.

*scratches head*

How do you get Leo from Gold Nugget? or Gold Nugget from Leo, know what I mean?

So, I asked Barb to answer this question as a way of addressing the pedigreed dog name thing I've wondered about for years. Here is her fascinating and informative answer:
Some breeders name litters thematically or use a particular letter for each I started late, I will never breed many litters so don't think I need to use those methods.

As a breeder I am excited to plan a breeding and very excited and worried to get them on the ground (born).

I start thinking about call names as soon as they arrive. I taught high school for years and had some memorable students and have used their names for call names for my puppies. For example a brother of Leo's (a tri)... I named him Evan as he is a gentle, smart soul and reminder me of a student named Evan. The woman who bought Evan renamed him Tippy but he will always be Evan to me. He is now a registered therapy dog.

Sometimes the name just comes to you. Leo's mom is Velvet... she looked like a piece of velvet cloth when she was born (I taught some fashion & clothing construction courses). Her registered name is Chippenhook's Velvet Slipper... her daughter Niki (who looks like Velvet) is Chippenhook's Shiny Shoes. Linking the names helps you remember pedigrees too.

Leo's name comes from a famous dog named Am Ch Lochlomon Interlock, he lived in Ohio.... born in 1973. He is behind many of the collies I admire. I have attached a head shot of him... a handsome collie!

(name misspelled in pic... should be Lochlomon)
A few years ago I met the woman who bred Lochlomon Interlock..... she is an interesting character. I did some more research when I got home and saw that Interlock's call name was Leo. So I thought if I ever have a handsome male like him, I would name the puppy Leo.

I name my puppies by the time they are 3 weeks old as I think they are "real people" by then.

My Leo was big (over a pound), strong & handsome when he was born. He was the pick of the litter at 8 weeks. He is line bred on a dog from New York state, Am Ch Marnus Golden Ruler (Leslie loves this dog too) call name Piper. Leo's mother, Velvet is a grand daughter of Golden Ruler..... Velvet's brothers who have a resemblance to Piper have registered names Autumn Gold, Heart of Gold & Good as Gold in honour of Piper.

Because Leo does not have much of a white collar.... he is mostly sable, I decided to go with the name Gold Nugget.

My kennel name is after Chippenhook Creek that runs through the dairy farm I grew up on in eastern Ontario. I knew when I retired from teaching in Stratford, Ontario I would move back home...... can't take the love of country out of me!.... I now rent a house on the farm.

I hope this answers your questions about Leo's name. Any more questions... ask away. 
A Special Training Session

Leslie continues her education as a trainer by booking private training sessions with Michele Pouliot. I was lucky enough to attend one of Leslie and Leo's sessions while I was visiting recently. These videos are a beautiful example of platform/clicker training where Leo is learning the "left heel" position (his future working position).

Notice, he is loose (not on lead) while working and must find the proper position on his own. Also note how much fun he's having — one look at the smiling face and wagging tail tells the tale. Leslie reports that at the very next training session just after I left, Leo was no longer standing perpendicular to her as he is in these videos. This work is considered to be Foundation Training, the first stage in Leslie's training protocol.

I recorded their work together for everyone. (on my iPhone, handheld. sorry for the shaky camera work.) Enjoy!


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