When my wife and I picked up our dog from the shelter, he already had a name. We tried to come up with other names that fit him, thinking we’d somehow have a more personalized experience adopting him if we got to name him ourselves.
We were driving back home and our new dog was in the backseat with my wife. “Bucket!” I said, glancing up at the mirror to see if he’d reply. Nothing.
“Are you a Bucket?” my wife said to him. He just looked out the window, nervous and excited. “Are you… Bandit?” she asked him. Nope. We tried a couple more names, mostly based on inanimate objects, but nothing stuck.
Then we tried the name he had at the shelter. “Teddy?” I looked in the mirror and saw his ears perk up. “Are you Teddy?” He tilted his head in recognition. No other name would work, and today, now that we’re best friends, I can’t imagine calling him anything else.
So I wasn’t surprised when I read in LiveScience that there’s been a trend recently towards naming our pets more “humanlike” names than previous generations had. Most dogs I know have humanlike names. I know a Charlie, a Jed, a Leroy, a Bella and many others with great “people names.”
The article suggests that this trend could be due to a “change in society, in which owners see their fur babies more as family members than animals.” Fur babies. Love it.
The Dog Names of Dognition
I took an informal survey in the Dognition office, and the names of our dogs are overwhelmingly humanlike, too. Ernie, Lulu, Shirley, Jackson and Finley are some of the dogs we love. As one colleague pointed out, sure these names are human-like, but how many “Ernies” do you know? Good point. When Tia Ghose of LiveScience talked to Laura Wattenberg, founder of babynamewizard.com, the baby naming expert suggested that perhaps “we’re more willing to push the style to the extreme with pets, and maybe even live out the naming fantasies that we wouldn’t quite be able to give to our children.”
Although…I will say that I know a couple with a human child named Teddy.
We looked at the names of the 2,276 dogs who signed up for the Dognition beta program. The top 10 names are also notably “humanlike”:
Dog Names v. Cat Names
Interestingly, five — maybe six if you count “Kitty” — of the top 10 cat names in the US are names you might call a fur-less baby. Here are the lists, compiled in a study by Banfield Pet Hospital that surveyed 2.5 million pets:
Top Dog Names:
Top Cat Names:
So why are dogs getting so many people names, while some cats are still called Tiger, Smokey and Shadow? Do the results imply that we’re more attached to our dogs than our cats? Or do we sense our dogs are more attached to us than our cats are? Dogs are called “Man’s Best Friend,” after all. And I don’t know about you, but most of my best friends have had humanlike names.
Maybe it’s just a matter of time. People and dogs have been living together for at least 14,000 years, maybe even 33,000 years, based on a fossil found in 2011. Meanwhile, the oldest known pet cat was discovered at a 9,500-year-old grave site in Cyprus. Maybe in 5,000 years the top 10 cat names will be more “humanlike” than they are today.
What’s the most memorable or interesting pet name you’ve ever heard? Let us know in the comments section or on Facebook.
(Photo by robwiss)
I wonder if more Dogs or Cats have “god” names? I have a Buddha cat.
@josephlevinski I’ve had cats named: Kali (after the Goddess of destruction), Odin (at least HE thought he was the chief God), Loki (he was definitely a Trickster), and a long time ago, a dog named Thor. I’ve also had an entire cocktail party: Brandy, Bailey, Marguerita, Kahlua, Daiquiri, and Stinger. Right now, I have a Fonzie Fuzzbutt along with Kali and a few others…..seems like the names go in groups somehow.
@josephlevinski I named a dog Cinzia – the Goddess of the moon and hunting. 🙂
I found a stray dog June 1980 (black and white terrier type with ears too big for his face) laying on the side of the road, starved and picked him up and took him back to my office….a French lady I worked with said oh, poor Bonhomme…(meaning “good ole fellow”)….and that became his name…and he certainly was a good ole fellow……the vet sd he was around 7 yrs. old and lived to be 17 yrs…..I don’t know who lost him but he was trained to lip read, hand signals and clearly understood every word I said….and could read and know if someone was a good person or not……he would stare right into your eyes…..I posted an ad in the paper for over a year and no response…..not ever having a dog before him I thought it was the way you talk to a dog just like a human with a soft voice and lots of hugs….he had over 24 different toys and after I named each one he knew it immediately….before going to bed he would gather up all his toys and I swear would count to make sure he had every one of them…he had a big yellow bowl for his food…..and if I or my roommates did not get up at 6am to feed him he would take his bowl and go up and down the hallway and hit it on the wall until someone got up……and then sit with the bowl in his mouth…….needless to say he had all of us trained…lol….everyone came over to see Bonhomme……he had empathy and seemed to know when someone needed a prod to get out of their low mood and knew just how to do it…….you could not help but smile…….I had a pool and he loved diving into the pool and my roommate taught him to surf on an air mattress while telling Bonhomme her latest boyfriend woes……I use to take him for a plain hamburger at Mcdonalds…..and if we drove by one of those yellow arches and didn’t stop he would look and start to whimper……he was one of kind……every day his spirit was like a big dish of sunshine that never faded…….he had a heart attack and died Jan. 8, 1991….and I still miss him…..
@travel31511 Thanks for sharing. Sounds like Bonhomme was indeed a “good ole fellow”.
I have a Border Collie Cockapoo mix…his name is Teddy too…Teddy bear to be exact…he is so very intelligent but not hyper,,,very laid back…sweet and very beautiful (handsome I guess since he’s a male)dog. He looks like a curly Border Collie. Got him off of Craig’s list and he is my baby. Have a Pug-Yorkie mix, Mace, too. He definitely is independent and a little sweet clown and of course he is my baby too. He never fails to make me laugh with his wild silly personality. He too is from Craigslist. Together these two love each other very much. Teddy takes care of his little brother. He herds him into the house when Mace is not wanting to come in. He alerts me if Mace gets out of the yard. They play together like crazy! My life is sweeter, richer because I have these two characters in my life. And they are part of the family…not just animals!
CAT ♥ BABY CATS COMPILATION 1: