Dog names and stories

Most people we know put a lot of thought into their dog names. Some have themes. We know someone who realized her Ohio State fandom by giving all her dogs Buckeye-themed names. Lots of breeders will give their litters a theme or a letter to start with. Our own Teddy was one of three puppies – the others were Alvin and Simon. 

Some people wait until they know the dog’s personality. Others just go with the names they’ve always used. Our mother’s best friend always had a Boxer and a Chihuahua. The Boxer was always Mitzie. The Chihuahua was always Caesar. Regardless of gender. 

Ever use it?

The funny thing about dog names is that despite all the careful consideration – most people rarely use them. Dogs have nicknames, theme songs, and respond to “good girl,” or “good boy” regularly.

And, just like with people, we use nicknames as a mark of affection. Back in high school, Hope had a habit of nicknaming just about everybody. She’s never been good at remembering people’s names. It wasn’t particularly conscious, and she had no idea the impact it would have on those people. But a couple years ago she connected with a friendly acquaintance from school, who told her how much it meant that Hope gave her her very first nickname. It wasn’t particularly creative, but it meant something. 

That’s the point. Nicknames are a sign of affection – a way of connecting that strangers don’t have. It means “I know you.” Dogs also suffer the indignity of middle names. These are only aired when they’ve been naughty. Just like your mother used to do with you.

How many nicknames?

A black, rough Brussels Griffon dog with a gray beardlying down to illustrate dog names

And the longer you have a dog, the more nicknames they get. Tango, Fran’s Brussels Griffon, is the oldest dog here at 13, breaks the rule. But his personality is such that he doesn’t have many nicknames. He’s also always had “selective” hearing – so calling him by name, repeatedly, is usually the only way to get his attention. 

Torque, Hope’s French Bulldog, has the most nicknames – probably because Hope just can’t stop. He’s Tor-Q-Bear, Torklet, Tork-a-licious, etc. Fran usually just shortens it to Q-bear. The “bear” bits stuck because his feet look, to us, like little bear paws. And that’s how a nicknames gets started.

This, despite the fact that our dogs’ names were carefully chosen to be used in dog training and dog sports. Where your dog has to hear you across a large space, so no “soft” names. And the name has to be short, so you can yell it when you’re running agility. So they don’t forget them, every once in a while, we call them by their actual names.

What are some of your dogs’ nicknames?

One of the problems with naming, or nicknaming your dog creatively is that most people, even dog friends, will never know about it. The cleverest dog name here was Hope’s French Bulldog girl, Dax. And for the Star Trek fans out there – her registered name was “What A Trill.” If you groaned, thank you.

So we’re asking – what’s your dog’s name? And nicknames? We want to hear the stories, the themes. And the really bad puns!

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6 thoughts on “Dog names and stories

  1. Ronald R Wolf

    Years ago I had a cocker spaniel whose official name was “Sparks of Withington the 3rd” but to me he was “Sparky”
    Also had some just plain dogs called “Susie”, “Goldie”, “Boomer” and “Pumpkin” in later years as I grew up, followed by our first Maltese “Ollie” and “Rudy”. My wife and I currently have “Rudy” the Maltese and “Emmy” the Shi Tsu rescue.

  2. Pamela Cox

    I like your articles, especially the one currently posted on dog names. My dachshund/Corgi her name is Sophie Josephine and I call her Soapy Jo and my male dog is a mix and his name is Dave (no nickname for him). I also find the training articles helpful.


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