Thursday, October 18, 2012

What's in a Dog Name

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 I've recently read several articles about dog names. Some have been humorous; some explored why we name our pets what we do.  Some have been simply informational.  They all got me thinking about my own dogs and their names.

My first two childhood companions were Blackie Duke, a black Lab, and Skippy, a Cocker Spaniel.  Both named by my mother.

The first dog that I was allowed to name was my childhood Beagle, Snoopy.  I think the inspiration for that name is pretty obvious (Thank you, Charles Schultz).  Because I was in elementary school, that name had to be approved by my parents.

The true test of my dog naming abilities came with my very first "just mine" dog, Benji.
Adopted from an animal shelter while I was still in college, Benji was named after Benjamin Franklin.  Because Benji was a mutt, I remember wanting a very American name that reflected the melting pot nature of our country.  (Seriously.  I thought like that back then.)

Next came another shelter dog, Sherman. I was generous enough to allow the Dog Daddy to select his name (with my wholehearted approval.)
Sherman was named after Sherman T. Potter of television series MASH fame.

When we adopted our black Lab mix from a shelter, I was certain he would grow up to be a chunky, blocky, hunky fellow.
I named Spanky after that fellow on the right of Lil Rascals fame.  Friends told me I should've used Buckwheat.  Maybe so.  Spanky grew up to be a lean athletic fellow and never resembled a "Spanky" at all.

My Border Collie, Lizzy, showed up at our farm and chose me. 
There was no agony on my part about her name.  She just felt like a Lizzy immediately.  I didn't realize the meaning of her name until I decided to write this blog post.  As I'm fond of saying on Facebook about some images:  TRUTH!

Then came Tucker.  Excuse me while I pause to chuckle. 
He was another stray that chose us.  The Dog Daddy was not keen on adding a puppy to our family right then, so I wasn't sure we would keep him.  Since we had to rush him immediately to a vet, he needed a name fast.Tucker came to us from the road.  We named him for that road:  Tucker

Lucy's name was easy and I chose it solo.

Lucy B was named for my fifth great grandmother, Lucy Bays Bingham who was born in Virginia in 1778 and moved to Indiana in the 1820's.  On the bottom right you can see her cabin which is now in the Indiana University Mathers Museum.  Though I'm not sure my ancestor would appreciate it, Lucy B was named as a tribute.

Jeffie has a big name to live up to and, frankly, there was a lot of debate about it in our house.  The Dog Daddy was persuasive.

Jeffie was named after Dog Daddy's all-time hero:  Thomas Jefferson.  Depending on present company, we also acknowledge a smidge of Jefferson Davis influence, but that's another story!  

Our poor yellow Lab puppy spent a few weeks with no name at all while we agonized.  Lists were made.  Names added; names crossed off.  When the Dog Daddy began threatening to call him Tator, I knew I had to do something fast.

I'd always wanted to name a dog after my favorite childhood story book, but I wasn't sure the name fit.  Rudy is named after Rootie Kazootie.  Little did we know that as Rudy grew up and "explored" the yard that I needn't have worried. Rootie would have been quite appropriate.

Hmmm...  a little bit of history.  Some popular culture.  Some genealogy and fond reminiscence.   A few snap decisions;  a few that took quite a bit of time.   

Is there a theme or pattern to how we've named our dogs?  

Perhaps it is simply that it is important to us.  Important to somehow reflect ourselves in combination with the bundles of love that are our best friends.  


  1. I loved reading about all the names you picked! So very clever, and patriotic, in many cases! I am always fascinated by the names people choose for their pets and how they pick them. I suspect people are much more clever than I.
    I loved reading your comment about Lizzy. So sweet.

    With the exception of my first dog, Alicia, who was reluctantly named that by me (I wanted to name her Trista, a character from a book) and Jasper, all my dogs have already come with names.
    Daisy's just fit her. She's delicate like a flower and hardy like one too. Aspen and Indy were unique names and I liked them so I just kept them, and Cupcake came with hers as well. I kept it more for her than me. It's kind of an odd name, but she likes it so...
    Great post Sue!

    1. I wish I would have thought about the names some of mine came with from shelters! Isn't that odd, I seem to have totally blocked that. I remember that Benji came with a really dumb (to me) name and that's all I remember. When I found Jeffie on Petfinder, he was Stevie (and his brothers were Johnny and Joe).

      I adore the name Jasper and it is one of my go-to dog names. I just haven't found a Jasper for myself. Yet. Love Daisy's name and when I look at her face, I think it suits her well.

      Cupcake makes me smile. We have a horse that came with the name Babe... we call her Cakes! (Because when we got her, it looked like she'd eaten way too many)

      Thank you for sharing, Mel!

  2. Love this post and love your story about the names. I am the same way. I love names with some sort of meaning or a reason they are named what they are. The first rescue we adopted was a husky mix. Very wolf-like. Hubby and I both love wolves so I wanted something Native American. I came across Miakoda on a website which means "power of the moon". Mia's a howler too so it fit perfectly.

    Our next adoption, Emme, a Basenji mix that came from a hoarding situation. Her name was Gypsy at the shelter, but I've always loved the name Emme and it's very girly.

    Then came Ash... another Native American name for a Dalmatian/Heeler/Pit. His full name is Ashwin which means "strong horse".

    Hubby named another Dalmatian mix of ours Max mainly because Max was our first "failed foster" and hubby said if we kept him he was going to be named Max. Actually he wanted to name him "Brutus Aurelius Maximus" or "BAM" but I put my foot down and settled for Max :-)

    Luna, our Dalmatian Heeler mix was named after Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter books. But it also means "goddess of the moon". That's how I sold the name to hubby since he's not a HP fan.

    Buford Blue found us... he's a Black and Tan Coonhound mix that showed up as a stray and never left. Buford works as a southern coonhound name, but we added the Blue to it because he's got a brown eye and a blue eye. His nickname is Boof.

    Belvedere is the only dog we ever adopted whose name we didn't change. He's an English/Bluetick Coonhound and when I saw his pic at the shelter all I could think of was the Looney Tunes cartoon with the character going "Oh Belvedere! Come here boy!"

    1. I wish you could've heard me when I read your post. I love the stories behind your names. Particularly the Native American connections. Tell Glenn I love BAM! ;-)

      Buford seems like a perfect Coonhound name to me. And not only does Buford Blue suit him, it sounds so nice said out loud! And I would never have guessed that Belvie's name was not your own christening for him.

      Thanks, Kristi!

  3. Love how you name your dogs! Sam is named after a hobbit - he went nameless for a while, and then one day I thought "Frodo has his Sam, and so do I!" and that was that. Monty was originally Marty. Aaron and I didn't like having to say Marty (we aren't sure why) but didn't want to confuse the boy too much!


    1. "Frodo has his Same and so do I"... LOVE IT! :-D I understand about the Monty/Marty. We've done a similar thing with horses that came to us with names. Most of our shelter dogs came to us so young, we didn't worry about a name change. And the strays... well, they never spoke up and told us what their original names were. lol

      Thanks for sharing!

  4. Wow.If dogs knew where there names came from, I am sure they'd be saying emakrs like...

    You don't say?
    Awww, I'm that special?
    Ewww, why am I named after some dead guy?

    And the list goes n and on. LoL

    Huggies and Cheese,

    1. I laughed out loud when I read your comment. I suspect you are entirely correct. I know Rudy thinks that instead of talking about dog names, I should be outside playing Jolly Ball!

  5. Interesting, very interesting. We initially were getting a pair from the same litter, we wanted something cute like Jack and Jill. We wracked our brains and then boom!! Sampson and Delilah (although Sampson is spelled Samson in the bible.) Well two turned to one but we stuck with Sampson because we liked the name. When we added Delilah that was Hubby's stipulation, we could get her but her name needed to change from Ginny to Delilah. :-)

    1. I really like the Sampson and Delilah pairing. We had a team of mules named Bonnie and Clyde :-)

  6. My mom LOVES that my name ISN'T on EITHER list! She likes being unique :)

  7. I love hearing how dogs got their names. Today we met a dog and his companion at the dog park. Of course I asked the dogs name. It is Dakin. I learned that Dankin is named after the local shelter from which he was adopted.

    My dogs were named after individuals in the entertainment field. My first solo dog was named Nico after the lead singer in the rock group The Velvet Underground. Nico the dog had black markings around her eyes and Nico the singer wore lots of black eye liner. (It was the 70's what can I say).

    Next came Cassie. Cassie was a border collie and was named after Lassie.

    Then there were Fox and Dana. Litter mates who were named for the characters in the X Files.

    And today we have Zeva. Again named for a character in a popular television show.

    Marie and Zeva

    1. Thanks so much for sharing. Love the stories behind your pet names. Smiled a big smile about Fox and Dana. The truth is out there!

  8. I just loved reading all the history behind your dog names! I think my favorite is of course Lucy after your fifth grandmother. I love her little cabin and how wonderful that it is in a museum! I din't realize I'd done it until after naming Fred, but that was my grandfather's name.


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