Five ways we pick pets names


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Five ways we pick pets names

Updated May 11, 2010

Buster and Archie are St. Bernard/Boxer mixes. Playing on the boxer side of their heritage, they were named after boxers, Buster Douglas and Archie Moore.
Buster and Archie are St. Bernard/Boxer mixes. Playing on the boxer side of their heritage, they were named after boxers, Buster Douglas and Archie Moore.

A few weeks ago, I asked readers to share their pets’ names. After reviewing your e-mails, I realized that a pet’s name can provide as much insight into a pet owner’s personality as it can about the pet himself. Here’s my take on the five ways we name our pets.

First, there are “human names,” like Maggie and Max, that pet owners may choose to make pets feel like family. “They are mybabies,” says Liz M.

Second are “personality/appearance names” that reflect something unique about the pet’s personality, behavior or appearance. Judith Gunn Bronson of Bandera says she rescued a tiny cat who “chewed on everything.” Her husband said, “You are just a little termite, nothing but teeth and mouth.” So, she was named “Termite.” Erin Harrison’s blue heeler was the runt of the litter who made all sorts of unusual sounds as if he was trying to talk, so she named him “Verbal.”

Third are “discovery names.” These names tell us where the pet was found, rescued or adopted from, like a dog named Freeway. Angela Hoeffler named her Maine coon cat Baby Jessica after the famous Texas rescue. “When we found her, she crawled into a hole in the wall under the bathroom vanity and did not come out for two days,” says Hoeffler. “It was like the rescue of the other Baby Jessica, except our Jessie was in a ‘wall,’ not a ‘well.’ ”

Fourth are “revealer names,” which give insight into pet owners’ favorite things. Who loves Star Trek? Helen Harrison of Cibolo has a terrier mix named “Tiberius” after Captain James T. Kirk and a dachshund mix named Tribble. Her daughter Heather loves poker, so she has a cat named Aces. Joe and Susan Mustacchio appear to love Italian history and literature. They have cats named Nero, Mercuria and Bucharacio.

Finally, the last category I call “Other.” It’s the category where you sort of give up on finding a name and start calling the cat “Kitty.” Lex Caswell explains this category best. As a kid in upstate New York, “my dad came home one day with six cats from the local shelter,” says Caswell. “My four siblings and I were given the job of naming them. We ran out of names so we called the sixth cat the ‘Other’ cat. The name stuck. ‘Other’ was with us for 15 love-filled years.”

What happens when you combine names? Mark Crider of Corpus Christi has a toy rat terrier who is “Blenheim with pink skin where the hair is white and dark where it is Blenheim, which gives her spots all over her tummy,” says Crider. “When she rolled over and showed her speckled tummy, my wife said “Dotty” (personality/appearance). I looked at my reddish latte and said, ‘Latte’ ” (revealer). Since then, we’ve called her “Latte Dotte.” (“Blenheim” is a color description for a reddish brown and white pattern on a dog.)

How do you name your pets?

My most recent pets have been Brinkley (revealer: The movie, “You’ve Got Mail”), Smokey (personality/appearance: Named by our son when he was 5), Maggie (human), and Miss Kitty (other: She came with the name).

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Cathy Rosenthal (aka The Pet Pundit), CHES, CFE
Animal Welfare Communications Specialist

Cathy brings more than 35 years' experience in the animal welfare field. She is a sought-after speaker, Certified Humane Education Specialist, a syndicated pet advice columnist, an author, a publisher, and of course - a loving pet parent.

Read more about Cathy here or check out her Non-Profit's page to see more ways she can help you and your organization.

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