Jack Ashburn pans his gaze over his closed left fist, past his white knuckles, glancing slowly down the taught purple nylon leash which terminates at a black, white and brown four-month old puppy that is, by all accounts, a sizable dog already. But, for all the strength he is exerting on the leash, he cannot muster enough force to call the dog by name.
"Nephi" was not his first choice. Neither was it his second, third, or fourth. His wife Reta, however, insisted that the children could name the dog as they wished to. He objected that if they had let the kids name their third child, her name would have been "Rumplestiltskina". Reta retorted that this is a dog after all and not a child.
Having grown up with a dog, Jack knew otherwise. He knew that dogs will garner a unique position on any family org chart. He knew that at any given juncture in the immediate genealogical tree, dogs could be found pining for attention or exerting their food rights as fully-fledged, table-eating, members of the clan.
Jack explicitly knew, that six months from now, if Nephi were to paw at the girls a bit too abrasively, his wife would inadvertently shout at the beast: "Leave your sisters alone!"
On the way home from the dog farm, Jack's 6-year-old suggested the name Nephi. Her sisters concurred (the infant laughing at this juncture which was seen as consummate approval by her older siblings). Jack could not object altogether as she also gave a valid support for her choice: "Because he's big, and the prophet Nephi was big."
Nephi is a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog. This is a rare breed in the United States. This is also one of the largest breeds in the world. Swissys (as they are...