I don’t remember exactly which internet site I was on, but it was probably one of those “name your baby” sites. I saw the name Artemis listed under the girl names, and I though, “Huh, that’s an interesting name. I kind of like it.” And then I looked up the history of the name by Google search.
People always ask me, “Artemis: isn’t that a boy’s name?” And the simple answer is: no.
Artemis is Apollo’s sister in Greek mythology. She is the equivalent of the Roman goddess Diana. Artemis is the goddess of forests and hills. She is typically seen hunting with her bow and arrow and her trusty dog by her side.
The name couldn’t have been more fitting for my dog. Artemis was always a huntress, chasing coyotes and herds of deer in the mountains, chasing herds of cattle in the grasslands of Wyoming, chasing birds to the edges of cliffs, and stalking squirrels in Liberty Park. We would oftentimes be on a walk around the block, and Artemis would put her nose in the air, dig in her heels, and come to a dead stop. I would follow her gaze and see that a squirrel had stopped on a wire above our heads. I would have to drag her away to keep her moving on the walk.
She was also quite a forager of food. She never really got into my pockets to look for treats like Franklin does, but she would root through any yard with fruit trees on our walks to eat plums, peaches, apricots, pears, and her favorite: crab apples. Trying to get Artemis around the block in the late summer and early fall was a chore, because she was so busy eating. I remember passing by one house that had a mulberry tree and she was scraping the dried berries off of the sidewalk with her front teeth in order to eat them.
I traveled to Bavaria with my family one summer (leaving the dogs at home) and on a visit to King Ludwig II’s castle Linderhof, I looked across the courtyard and saw a statue of a toga-clad woman with her dog and her bows and arrows at her side. “Artemis!” I shouted. Likely, the goddess was Diana, as King Ludwig had borrowed heavily from the influence of Versailles and King Louis XIV, who also has a statue of Diana in one of his courtyards and tended to borrow from Roman influence (not Greek).
I often called her Artie for short, but she was never short on energy when it came to hunting. I bought small lights for the dogs’ collars while working in Nevada on an assignment, so that I could see where the dogs were going on our evening walks out in the desert. Artemis loved to chase the jackrabbits, and I loved watching her red blinking light darting around the pitch-black remote desert hills.
So, what’s in a name? As far as Artemis is concerned, everything. The name couldn’t have been more perfect for her. I dream that she lives on as my guardian angel in the mountains and hope that she will watch over me as I continue on my adventures.