Dr. Danna Catt loves nothing better than curling up with one of her five purring felines.
The 39-year-old Medford veterinarian at Pear Blossom Veterinary Clinic keeps two at home and three at her office, where they get free rein during the day. A strikingly striped Bengal cat, Cheech, is in charge of the office, happily tipping over anything that gets in his way.
Catt is one of many people in the valley who hearken back to a day when names reflected occupations. Once upon a time, a Smith really was a smith, and a Baker really was a baker.
Though Catt, whose maiden name was Kaze, didn't always dream of being a vet, she says felines have been a lifelong obsession.
"When I was little, I was a cat person," she says.
Though her married name is often misspelled as the animal, it's a good icebreaker, she says. And people just can't help commenting on it.
"I get all the canned jokes, such as, 'Well, do you see dogs, too?'" she says.
Larry Rains has received more than his share of jokes over the years as manager of the Medford Water Commission.
"'Is it going to rain?' — That sort of thing," he says.
Rains says lots of people comment about having such a unique last name while working for a water purveyor.
"Did you go into the water business because of your name?" he is often asked.
Rains isn't even sure about the origin of his name, except that it's English.
Darin Wellburn, Jackson County Fire District No. 5 division chief, also says he didn't decide to become a fireman based on his name, and it's not exactly a hot topic at the fire station.
"It comes up occasionally in conversations," he says.
Wellburn says he's never tracked the origins of his name.
Jim Root's family planted orchards and started a fruit-packing business in Medford back in the 1930s. In 1963, the family started marketing the culls into fruit purees for other products under the Sabroso brand, and under Root's leadership starting in 1988, Sabroso became the nation's leading manufacturer and seller of fruit purees.
"I certainly thought about tree roots but I can't say I ever thought about my name," says Root, 64.
In 2008, Root sold the business to Tree Top Inc. of Washington.
"Certainly, the Roots established a good foundation," he says.
As a financial adviser for 26 years in Jackson County, Peter Sage says it doesn't hurt his reputation to have a name like his.
"I hear the comment that I would like some sage advice about once a week," he says. "It is an unusually fortunate name to have if you're in the financial advisory world."
Sage Road was named after his great-great-grandfather, David Dudley Sage, about 100 years ago. David's son also had a road named after him: Charles Way, which intersects with Sage Road.
Sage says his name didn't hurt his reputation when he successfully ran for Jackson County commissioner in the 1980s. "It was also easy to pronounce," he says.
Not that it hasn't had its downsides.
When Sage was commissioner, a reporter thought Sage was incorrectly using county funds for dental work. It turned out the dental work had been done on a county drug-sniffing dog named Sage.
In France, Sage ran in a marathon, but the French announcer had difficulty pronouncing his name, finally spitting out "Saggy."
Despite these occasional problems, the name has been beneficial to his career, Sage concludes.
"Sage is a very handy name."
Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.