When you communicate with other people, you may not always acknowledge them by name if the conversation is just between the two of you. However, we do like to be addressed by our name when there’s more people involved. For one thing, it tells us someone is speaking directly to us. It’s equally important for your dog to hear his name, especially when training him.
From a dog’s perspective, our human world is a noisy place. They can hear many sounds that we can’t. Their exceptional hearing and observational skills can distract them at times when we want or need them to pay attention to us. Canines with a strong prey drive can become so focused on another animal they ignore everything else, which is why some dogs should never be let off leash, and why a recall command is so important.
Speaking your dog’s name first gets his attention and lets him know you’re getting ready to give him a command you expect him to follow. Some dogs can get so tuned in on prey they don’t hear their owner calling them as they race out into a busy street or disappear into the woods. Knowing how your dog responds to his name tells you how well he’ll respond if there’s an emergency situation that requires him to pay attention to you. It’s for your peace of mind and his safety. Read More »
People have a myriad of reasons why they give their dog a particular name. Some names are tender and touching, others are downright funny. They may be carefully thought out or suddenly occur in a light bulb moment. Whatever the reason behind each moniker we give our loved canine companions, they are forever saddled with our choice. Dogs don’t seem to mind what their name is though, as long as we love them.
My friend Donna has a dog named “Gizmo.” If you are a movie buff you will recognize the name from the movie Gremlins. Her “Gizmo” looks just like the fictional character.
My second dog “Kira” was named after a couple of movie characters I loved. She got her name from the flying Gelfling in the Muppet-style movie The Dark Crystal, and after the muse Kira who came to Earth and fell in love with a dancing human in the movie Xanadu. Considering her human grandmother was a small screen celebrity, Kira had to have a name that tied her to the cinema world and my love of a good story.
Karen’s dog “Felipe” is named after her favorite place on earth – San Felipe, a small fishing village in Baja, Mexico. With her dog named after her loved second home, the warm town is always with her, even from far away.
Fido is a generic name many people use when referring to any dog. It’s a Latin word that means “to trust, believe, confide in.” However, there are few references to the name throughout the pages of time, and it’s not a name found on those “most popular dog names” lists – except briefly during one period in history. So if Fido has never been popular, how did it become a common name used to mean any dog? To answer that question, we have to go back to the election of our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln.
Suffering from bouts of depression that made it difficult for him to work, Lincoln found comfort with his pets and they became a lifeline that pulled him out of his darkness. He was passionate about animals throughout his life, with a special fondness for cats, and was an outspoken advocate for animal rights as well as human rights. Lincoln served one term in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1847 to 1849, returning to his law practice after leaving office. He stepped back onto the political stage at the 1860 Republican National Convention to accept his party’s nomination to run for president.
Fido’s story, however, begins in Springfield, Illinois in 1855. Lincoln rescued a medium-sized, yellow retriever/shepherd pup he named Fido. The pair became inseparable and were commonly seen strolling around town together. Fido had the run of the house, much to the disapproval of Lincoln’s wife, Mary Todd, who wasn’t fond of animals. She bristled when Fido tracked mud through the house, and wasn’t amused when he claimed a horsehair sofa as his. But she tolerated him, and for five years Fido lived a carefree life – until 1860 when Lincoln won the presidential election.
It’s not uncommon to use a generic name for a dog when you don’t know his name, or when talking about canines in general. The generic name Rover has been used for quite some time, but it’s never shown up on a list of popular dog names, which surprises a lot of people. So how did a name that has never been popular become a common name we use to mean any dog?
It began with a 6½ minute movie during the early years of filmmaking. In 1905, Cecil Milton Hepworth produced the first movie starring a dog, “Rescued By Rover.” It’s a simple film, especially when compared to today’s blockbusters, but the story line is believable. It’s considered to be a groundbreaking contribution to film history because the dog is the star, and the story unfolds in continuous frames that create a smooth transition from scene to scene, which is how it’s done today.
The star of the movie is Hepworth’s Collie named Blair, a handsome dog who looked like Lassie, playing the lead role of Rover. The scene opens with Blair and Hepworth’s infant daughter sitting next to a fireplace. The baby’s nanny enters the room to take her for a walk in her stroller. During the walk, the nanny runs across a soldier and stops to talk with him. While she’s distracted, a drunken beggar woman runs off with the baby. Distraught after finding the infant gone, the nanny rushes back home to inform the parents.
Most of us put a good deal of thought into what we’re going to call our new pet. Usually, their name reveals something about our own interests or personality. I get a kick out of learning what my friends call their pets. Here are some of the funny pet names they shared with me.
My friend Wendy used to walk with a lady on the beach who named her dog Taxi. Every time she called her dog, people thought she was a nut, going down the beach yelling “TAXI!”
Laurie has two cats that are brothers…Isaac and Figg, you know, the Newton brothers. And Patricia’s mom had a dog named Seiko. Can you guess why?
Sports related names include Tiffany’s dog Kobe, because she’s a big Lakers fan. Caren’s beagle mix is named Philadelphia: Philadelphia Beagle (her husband is a Philadelphia Eagles fan).
Ken once had a black cat named Demon and the cat’s mother’s name was Deacon – named for the fighting Demon Deacons of Wake Forest University. His current cat is named Kasay after the ex-kicker on the Carolina Panthers football team.
One of our dogs, Big Al, is named after the University of Alabama football team’s mascot.
The names people give their pets fascinate me. Not just the names, but the reason behind the names. For instance, our all white dog is named Frosty and I believe the name is self-explanatory. My husband named our second dog Big Al because we like Alabama football (Roll Tide) and their elephant mascot is named Big Al. Not wildly original, but that’s the back story.
The list of popular pet names was recently updated and the top spot for dogs and cats was Bella, undoubtedly because of Twilight. On one list, Bella was the 3rd most popular name for birds and exotic pets. Another pet name that ranks high on the list is Max. Names like Max and Lucy are often used in children’s picture books, and kids help name the family pet so that stands to reason – Max is the hero’s name in Where the Wild Things Are. Live Science reports that humanlike names like Charlie or Lucy are popular for dogs, while unisex names like Shadow and Smokey, describing physical traits like color, currently rank high for cats.
These reports are all very interesting, but I decided to tap into my bevy of creative friends. I asked a simple question: what is your pet’s name and why?
Literary characters, musicians, and television or movie characters
Starr’s boys named their dog Marley after Bob Marley, and Juniper named her attention-loving cat Ziggy Stardust because she’s a David Bowie fan. One of Cathy’s dogs carries the name Ozzy because her daughter was a big Ozzy Osbourne fan. She has another rescue dog with beautiful deep eyes that she fell in love with immediately so she named him Rudy, after Rudolph Valentino.
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