What's in a name?

I knew someone once who had a German Shepherd called Fluffy. When I asked her why, she said “why not? He is fluffy after all”. Whilst I could see her point, I couldn’t help wondering how such a recall would be seen in her local park – I’m not sure a 40plus kilo dog would be what one expects to come running. From Shakespeare the Rottweiler to Rambo the Chihuahua to Richard the Chow Chow, I have come across hundreds of dogs over the last 22 years whose names are as unique as the dog itself.

But what’s in a name and why do we go to such lengths to find names for our canine counterparts that stand out from the crowd or perhaps, like childrens’ names, we choose the most popular one for that year. In France, the year your dog is born traditionally determines the first letter of its name, my parents’ dogs are Chrissie and Gunner. Many who buy puppies will choose a name linked to that of their Kennel Club registration or keep the name of a rescue dog simply because the dog is used to it. So, I did a little study and asked, “what’s in the name?”

I started with my partners, Alison and Nicky. Nicky has an 11-year-old scrumptious chocolate Labrador called Bailey so the name fits – he’s definitely a ladies’ best tipple! For Alison it was up to her family to choose the name for her Vizsla, Luna. The name comes from the Harry Potter books of which both Alison and her children are big fans. In fact, Luna was one of the most popular names for female dogs in 2017 with Alfie and Archie being top male dog names for Labradors. Yet, names ordinarily associated with human babies have also gained in popularity with one of our classes having a Richard, a Tony, a Hermione, a couple of Winstons and a George. Primary school or puppy class role call?

Let’s face it, naming our dog can be fun. They don’t care what you call them but it may be a sage thought to think of how you are going to call them back in the park. I had a client back in the early 2000’s who had a Jack Russell called Kevin. Yup, he really did shout, “KEVIIIIINNNN!” over Clapham Common. Cracked me up every time. Last year I went to a dear friend’s ‘ahem’ birthday bash and sat next to a gentleman who introduced himself as Louis. Wow, I said. She named her dog after you. Yes, he said.

My dogs are named for the most part after fictional characters:

Arry is actually Aragorn (I had hoped he would be of more noble mind)

Alice (Alice in Wonderland)

Danny Boy (after the song because he used to howl at fire engines)

Simi (after the demon in the Sherrilyn Kenyon books)

Yogi Bear (kind of obvious)

Evee (a Pokémon character as my son named her)

Gizmo (name change after we adopted him because he is small but mighty)

Neo (the Matrix and he’s short tempered)

Mo Cridhe (my heart in Celtic apparently)

Coco ‘George Clooney” Loco (because Coco is no name for a male dog)

It’s a sort of family tradition.  My parents once had two cats called Twist and Shout and a German Shepherd cross called Ringo. Oh, and an Irish Setter called Finn. I am thankful they aren’t Rolling Stones fans…….


Nicky Shaw