The truth is, I was ready for a dog crush.

The truth is, I was ready for a dog crush.

I still have crushes on my daughters, of course, and now they have husbands I'm also crazy about, but I've moved away from allowing visceral expressions of daughter adoration to fall unchecked from my mouth.

They fell with abandon when the girls were babies.

"Emsie!" I'd say to my older bundle of terrycloth. "Emsie-poo! Emsilina! Emsilinapoo! Emsie-poodle!"

And "Katesy!" I cried when my second little girl arrived. "Snoopy! Snoops!" And - I blush to admit this, and I'll say upfront I have no idea why -- "Spitzer Dodge!"

I could explain that we never bought a car from that dealer, that we have no connection to it whatsoever, but why linger here at all? Let's move on, agreeing that a mother has no control over her mouth when her baby is in her arms. My younger daughter was Spi -- well, you know, and my older daughter's name eventually devolved to The Poodle Person.

And then all that fell away. One at a time, the babies became children, no less adored but somehow no longer able to pull mindless endearments from the file in my head marked "inanities."

I've been reminded lately of my Emsie-poodle-Snoopy periods, because our dog Pip has a similar effect on me.

I'd wanted to name him Frank, first of all, but it seemed a pity to take from him the one thing that had been consistent throughout his otherwise chaotic life.

So Pip it was and Pip it probably would have been in any case -- Pip and Pips and Pipsy and Pipster, not to mention The Pipmeister, Pipsqueak, Pip the Squeak and Pip the Schmips.

He answers to all of it, as well as to Buddy, which I suspect he half-believes is his real name. My husband and I both call him Buddy (and Bud and Buddy-Bud and Bud the Buddy-Bud) almost as often as we call him Pip. Dogs are easygoing, though. They don't over-think what they're called as long as they are called.

I only hope none of our neighbors is close enough to hear me outside shouting "Pip the Schmips! Come on, Pipsy!! Let's go, Pipsqueak!"

In the house, I'm worse. In the house, I'm inclined to bad poetry, the kind that begins, say, "I love my Pip, my Pipsy Pip" and goes on to rhyme "Pip" with "zip," "hip" and "blip."

"My pup is Pip, a good, good dog," I'll remark as I'm pulling on a sweater. "I'm glad he's not a big green frog."

Pip, curled on one of his four beds -- yes, four, left over from our two large Labs; long story -- will watch me warily, the way a person watches a street preacher who's heading her way.

"I'm glad he's not a stripey cat," I'll continue, stepping into my shoes and grabbing my water bottle. "A flying bat, a winter hat."

Now I'm running downstairs, Pip bouncing down beside me the way he does, half rabbit and half Slinky toy.

"I'm glad he's Pip, my furry pet," I'll tell him, fishing for my keys.

Outside, heading to the garage, I'm often still talking -- "Cause he's the best dog yet, you bet," -- but by then it's fading. I'm almost a normal person again.

This sort of chatter wasn't unheard of around our other dogs. Our beloved German shepherd Jeffrey became so firmly The Buddy Boy of the World that even now, when one of us sees black and tan fur and large, upright ears, murmuring "buddy boy" is all that's needed to catch the other's attention.

Our two yellow Labs were The Girl Dogs. The Girls. The Budettes, as if they were a duo from the sixties, about to sing "Da doo ron ron ron da doo ron ron."

Even so, this dog is different.

Pip just stirred in his sleep.

"You're a good boy, little Pippy Pipster," I said.

Then I rolled my eyes.

Margo Bartlett is a ThisWeek staff writer. E-mail her at mbartlett@thisweeknews.com.