Traveling Dog Lady: Since Hector was a pup!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Since Hector was a pup!

Some of you may have read my essay on about my wonderful dog, Hector, and how he got his name. His name came about because of a phrase some of us at work used "we've been doing things that way since Hector was a pup". This is a phrase evidently popular for centuries. When I got Hector, we couldn't think of a name, and I was at work with my dear friend Roberta and she used the phrase (as we always did) and we looked at each other and said "HECTOR!!" and that's how my Hec got his name.

Somebody was Googling over the weekend, looking for "since hector was a pup cartoon" and landed on (yeah, I can spy on them and see how they ended up on my web site).

I decided to Google the same phrase and see what else comes up. Here is a great article explaining the possible origins of the phrase "since Hector was a pup".

"since Hector was a pup"

Dear Editor:
I sometimes hear the phrase "since Hector was a pup" and can't for the life of me find its source. I suspect it refers to the Hector of Homer's "Iliad." Can you confirm this hunch?
—M.E., Scottsboro, Ala.
Dear M.E.:
No one seems to be quite sure of the origin of this curious phrase. "Since Hector was a pup" is one of a variety of expressions meaning basically "since way back when," another favorite being "since Pontius was a pilot."
Several sources offer the unsubstantiated suggestion that the expression is based on the once-common practice of naming big dogs "Hector," most likely after the hero of Trojan War fame. Names for dogs, just as for people, go in and out of style. (We wouldn't even want to guess how many dogs were named "Lassie" in the 1960s.) According to the theory, "Hector" was in vogue for dogs in the mid-to-late 19th century, and the expression refers to the long past puppyhood of the family dog.
If this theory is true, it would discredit other suggestions that the expression was coined later by W.C. Fields or by the creator of a comic strip popular in the 1920s, "Polly and Her Pals."
It may be that one or both of these humorists was simply the vehicle for popularizing an expression already in existence. "Since Hector was a pup" may also have been a favorite expression of poet and dog-lover Ogden Nash, who works a variation on it in these lines:
"She seems to pant, time up, time up!
My little dog must die,
and lie in dust with Hector's pup;
So presently must I."