How To Choose Pet Names (Not That Kind of Pet Names, Sugarlips)
October 23, 2012 § 75 Comments
You have to be careful when you choose your pet’s name.
People can be judgey about pet names. (Present company included, I admit. If the first thing I find out about you is that you have a cat named Mr. McWhiskerdoodles, I will probably not seek out more information about you, because I’ll already know you like to needlepoint Kleenex box covers and watch The Bachelorette in a non-ironic, hopeful-romantic way, and we will probably not have much to talk about.)
Plus, whatever you pick is what you’re stuck saying 500 times a day for the next however many years your pet lives with you. And you can’t just set your pet free in the woods when you get tired of the name, because — whoa — talk about people getting judgey.
Having gone through this process just recently with a new puppy, I found that a good way to get a feel for whether the moniker you like will really work is to practice making an introduction with the name you’re testing out.
For example, you might do a test run on some tough-sounding dog names:
Oh, hello neighbor. This is my dog, Spike.
This is my dog, Chainsaw.
This is my dog, Venomous G. Razorface.
Nice, but probably not a fit for our little one. None of us around here are all that tough, and we want her to feel like she fits in.
You could try out some delicate, feminine names:
This is my dog, Daisy.
This is my dog, Baby Powder.
This is my dog, Nipple.
Maybe borrow a celebrity baby name?
This is my dog, Apple.
This is my dog, Banjo.
This is my dog, Tennessee.
OK, those actually work great for dogs. That should tell you something, celebrities.
If you have two pets to name, you could do a fun pairing, like:
These are my dogs, Shrimp and Grits.
These are my dogs, Dark and Lovely.
These are my dogs, Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band.
I would have loved to do something like that. But one new addition was really all we could handle right now, what with an elderly dog at home, too. Alas.
We’ve always used people-names for dogs. I don’t know. It’s just what we like. Some names, however, don’t translate well to pets:
This is my dog, Cheryl.
This is my dog, Linda.
This is my dog, Angela.
Basically, if the name sounds like a late-middle-age woman who still calls working out “aerobics” and eats WASA-bread and cottage cheese for lunch, it’s a no-go.
Our puppy is a beagle, by the way. But no, we didn’t consider Snoopy. The problem is, I *know* it would be just a matter of time before I started calling the poor thing Snoop-Dog and referring to her water bowl as her “gin and juice” and making her star in rap videos and all sorts of other inanity. So I just had to head myself off at the pass there.
Ultimately, our family went with a first name we all really liked for the pup, and then our kids jazzed it up with a little Presidential history. Then we took one look at her and thought, OH, totally. Yes. So with no further ado, I’d like to introduce…
The fact is, there are so many possibilities here for nicknames – Ellie, Roo, Rosie, FLOTUS – that the little creature will probably never know what her name is anyway. Oh, well. We tried.