As I said in the past, sometimes stories come along a local news websites, that need no additional comment from me. And yet I still wish to convey--as jaded as I am after 30 years of wandering in and out of major and lesser courthouses around the country--that I too wonder at what motivates some folks to do what they do. This story from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and reporter Timothy McNulty is one of those:
The sight of 'furries' dressed in animal costumes has become commonplace in Pittsburgh, which for five summers has hosted Anthrocon, the largest annual convention of the anthropomorphic enthusiasts. But it is exceedingly rare -- even among a group committed to attributing human characteristics to animals -- to legally change one's name to that of a made-up dog.
Meet Mr. Mathews, a barking trailblazer.
After years of thinking about the name change, Mr. Mathews, who is single, began the legal process early this year, which included getting his fingerprints checked through a state police criminal records database. 'It took some time to work up the nerve. I treated it like a science project,' he said. He filed for the name change in June.
Judge Folino questioned Mr. Mathews on if he might just change his first name to Boomer and if he has been paid to perform as the dog. (The unemployed computer technician said he had not been paid, "but it would be nice if I would be.")
The judge said he would issue a ruling in a couple days, saying he might rule against the name if it 'causes confusion in the community' or raises the "likelihood of unintended consequences,' such as being 'seen as bizarre.' Dr. Samuel Conway, the CEO of Anthrocon, said he knew of only two others in furry fandom who had legally changed their names out of the several thousand involved in the movement.
'I do not believe it is any more common among our number than one would find in the rest of society, where people are often driven to change their names out of religious fervor, a sense of cultural identity, or other reason of personal interest,' he said in an e-mail.
'I wish Mr. the Dog luck in his pursuit, with the earnest hope that he has chosen a career path for which such a monicker would be of benefit.'"