How NOT to Name a Dog!

For the past month, I’ve been on a mission to pick a name for the West Highland Terrier puppy who will be joining our family in October.  You would not BELIEVE the hours I’ve spent perusing the Internet, looking through dictionaries, leafing through books, skimming indexes, trying to come up with a list of potential names.  It was never this hard with my other dogs.

My first dog was a Shetland Sheepdog that came into my life when I was about twelve years old.  A friend of the family had a litter of pups and my mom walked me down the street to their house and I picked a puppy out of the litter.  On the way back to our house, Mom asked me what I thought we should call her.  With very little thought, I said, “I think she should be called Tichi because you’re a teacher and that name sounds like your job.”  She was “Tichi” until the day she died.

I got my next dog on the day before I left Colorado and grad school to impulsively move back to Minnesota and the family farm.  She was an Australian Shepherd mix and I grabbed an atlas and looked through a list of towns in Minnesota and decided on the name “Waseca” in celebration of moving back to “God’s country.”  It had taken me less than a day to come up with her name.

Our third dog took a bit more thought.  We were preparing to move to Morocco, courtesy of the Navy.  We were going to be taking our cat and now, a new Shetland Sheepdog puppy.  I wanted a name that would sound Arabic.  The movie “Ishtar” had just come out in theaters and I liked that name.  We happened to have a neighbor from Saudi Arabia on our base so I walked over to his house and asked him if the word “Ishtar” meant anything bad in Arabic.  He and his wife both looked a little puzzled but they assured me that it didn’t mean anything offensive that they were aware of.  I also knew that the “official” language of diplomacy and commerce in Morocco was French.  We were learning French so I wanted to include some French in his name.  Thus we named our dog “Bon Chance Ishtar” which translated to “Lucky Ishtar.”  Only later did I discover that “Ishtar” was the name of some ancient fertility goddess.  Luckily our male dog never held a grudge.

Our fourth and latest dog was a Miniature American Eskimo dog.  I went to look at the puppies available, she jumped on my lap and wouldn’t get off and I ended up taking her home.  On the way home, I was thinking that she needed a name that reflected something fresh and bubbly and refreshing.  “That’s it!” I thought.  “I’ll name her Fresca.”  If you’re a regular reader, you know that Fresca appointed herself my personal protector.  She felt that was her mission in life.  She never left my side when I was in the house.  She was a dear, unique, and challenging dog.  There were days when I thought I should have more appropriately named her “Molotov.”  But she was Fresca the Wonder Dog, named on the first day I saw her, and I loved her dearly.

Which brings me to my problem.  I think I just have too much time waiting for this puppy.  It’s giving me WAY too much time to choose a name. This should have been approached like I do my shopping…..Bag it and Tag it and That’s it!  Here are some lessons learned on what NOT to do:

1.  Do NOT ask your extended family’s opinion!  I made the mistake of sending a list of names to my children and extended family, asking them which ones were their favorites.  Mind you, I already had some favorites but I thought I’d be diplomatic and ask their opinions.  Maybe I didn’t really want their opinions.  My son shredded one of my favorites.

“Really, Mom?  Puck?  That might sound like a bad word if you’re standing out on the back porch calling out  ‘Puck, go potty….Puck, hurry up and go potty.’  Think about it”, he said.

My daughter bowled over several of my other favorites, not liking how they might be shortened.  My brother and sister-in-law came up with names that weren’t on the list.  Hey, as if this wasn’t hard enough.

2.  Do NOT post your list of potential names on Facebook and ask your friends for their opinions.
What was I thinking?  Well, actually I was thinking that I would apply the scientific method of making hash marks by each name according to how many voted for what names.  Logically, I could end up with two or three front-runners.  First off, the votes were all over the place.  Secondly, people were suggesting other names that weren’t on the list.  Again, no, no, no!  And now I had just added peer pressure to family pressure in the matter of my name choice.

3.  Do NOT think that you and your spouse will agree on a name.  If it hasn’t happened in the past 30+ years, it isn’t suddenly going to happen now.  I had had this rosy picture in my mind that the Commander and I would come up with our puppy’s name together since this is going to be our “empty nest” puppy.  He’s going to be a team effort.   That’s why, when I ran over my list with my hubby, I kept watching for his face to light up and listening for him to exclaim, “Yes, THAT’S the one!  Instead, what I got was a lot of “Eh, it’s ok” and “Might work” opinions on my whole list.  Helpful?  Not!

4.  Do NOT expect the name to come to you in a dream.    Well, in my defense, things HAVE come to me in dreams before but apparently dog names aren’t one of them.  Instead, I’ve been waking up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and then returning to bed and lying there for the next half hour while combination after combination of potential names run through my head.  Aaaaargh!  Turn it off!

5.  Do NOT announce to the world what name you’ve picked until you have your puppy in hand.  I made the mistake of thinking I had settled on a name and told my family and friends what it was going to be. I had basically picked the name that the majority of my friends liked.  But it was niggling at me and I just didn’t feel settled about that name.  So I changed my mind.  I picked another name.  But I’m still having second thoughts (or would that be “third” thoughts?).  I’ve decided that I’m going to come up with a short list of names and practice calling the puppy those names (in my head) off and on in the coming days.  I’m hoping that one will just feel more right than the rest.

In the meantime, I’ve come up with some great sources for picking names.  In my next post, I’ll share those links with you and also share what methods I use to begin my search for potential names.

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Hot Flashed Funk


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