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.