I have had dogs and cats all my life. The ones I named by myself have always had unique, interesting names, many being named after characters in mythology or classic literature. The ones I allowed someone else to name have often been something that I really didn’t want to be yelling out into the street at night to get them to come home for bed.
Before naming your pet, you have to consider how you will feel calling it in public. The all-time worst pet name I have been saddled with was “Fart”, name by an eight year-old boy who considered that to be the all-time greatest joke.
When I go to the dog park, I find an amazing array of animal names. There are dogs named Bob, Charlie, and Angus. These names are fun, and sometimes related to the breed. No one will take offence if you call your dog Bob, not even if their own name is Bob. Be careful with using people’s names, though. My little dog “Emma” had to have a name change to “Mia” when my son became serious about a girl named Emma.
There are also the “high society” names of the show dogs and cats, often with “of” somewhere in the phrase. These are, of course, intended to impress judges with the impressive heritage of the animal. The name alone proves that the dog or cat in question deserves “Best of Show”.
Most of us do not intend to show or breed our animals. We want a family pet who is just another one of us, except with four legs. If Doug or Susie is a good enough name for one of our children, then there’s no reason for the dog or cat’s name to be any more imaginative. Although, if Doug or Susie are named after a favourite grandparent, then the same rule may not be applied to the family dog. Grandpa Doug would not be impressed.
Dogs don’t have a very good command of language, so you want to make the name short, with a maximum of two syllables. That’s about all they can understand. One syllable is preferable. “Butch” is easy for a dog to decipher. As mentioned earlier, you want the name to be something that you can repeat in public. Although your dog may, in fact, be a bitch, it’s not advisable to name her that.
Your dog’s name defines you to people you meet as much as it identifies your dog. Naming your pet after a favourite book, movie, vacation spot, food, or pastime will give you an identity as well. If you spend a few days with your pet before naming him or her, the animal’s own personality might be the clue to their name. The name “Digger” might be just right. The names “Thing One” and “Thing Two” would be perfect for a pair of Hairless Chinese Creasteds. A humourous or ironic name lets people know that you have a sense of humour. A chihuahua named “Killer” is just to elicit grins from anyone who meets it, and you.
Before you tell your child or children that they can choose a name for the family pet, make sure you set out some ground rules. “Fluffy” might not be something that you want to have to repeat for 15 years. A stupid name lasts forever. My son’s choice of “Ukulele Aloysius Hucklebuck” was shortened to Yuki, and everyone was happy, including the dog.
When naming a cat, the rules are much easier. Just give it a name that acknowledges its majesty and superior intellect, such as Cleopatra or Shakespeare. Remember, with cats, there isn’t the issue of you calling its name over and over in public. It will just ignore you, anyway.