What's in a Name?

Pet Tales
by Barry B. Burtis D.V.M.

What's in a name? Well, when it comes to pets and their names, sometimes quite a bit. There can be much information contained in a name.

Just from hearing a pet's name, you may have a very good chance of being able to predict its species. Snoopy is much more likely to be canine than feline. Whiskers or Paws, on the other hand, is likely a cat, not a dog. Bugs is likely to have long ears and hop rather than walk. There may be even more revealing information that can be gleaned from a name. Flopsy is likely to enjoy nibbling on carrots. There may have been some housetraining challenges with a pet whose name is Dribbles. Odds are you don't need to worry about being attacked by Tiny or Precious.

A name may even allow you a good guess as to its breed before you meet some dogs. Who would be surprised to learn Lassie is a Collie? Wrinkles is a name made for a Shar-Pei. Surely only a German Shepherd could be named Rin Tin Tin or Hobo.

Of course, names often convey details about hair coat colour. It's highly likely that Blacky, Spot or Brownie will have a hair colour or pattern that will match their name. Recently, I think more pet owners may be choosing people names for their pets - Edgar, Peter, Maggie, Mindy or Charles. This may say something about the value we place on pets in our lives.

Pet names often tell you something about their owners. A Jack Russell Terrier called Eddie probably lives with someone who watched Fraser, on television. The owner of Mr. Mistoffelees is either a reader of T.S. Eliot poems or has recently seen the Broadway musical, Cats, or both. Marmaduke is probably a Great Dane whose owner reads the comic strip of the same name.

Now I want you to study this years third annual list of weird names for cats and dogs. The list is compiled by the people at VPI Pet Insurance from claims made to this large U.S. pet insurance provider.

Dogs                                                                     Cats
Pickle Von Corndog                                            1) Purr Diem
Lord Chubby Pruneface                                       2) Bing Clawsby
Badonkadonk                                                      3) Cleocatra
Ninjastar Dangerrock                                           4) Admiral Pancake
Molly Mcboozehound                                          5) Optimus Pants
Dog Vader                                                           6) Chairman Meow
Flospy Squeakerton                                             7) Boo Manchu                                                                   Bettie Poops                                                        8) Watts in a Name
Geez Louise                                                         9) Chenoa Azure Marshmallow Puff
Barnaby Bones                                                   10) Senor Nachos

I am not sure exactly what these names tell us about either the pets or the owners who chose them for their pet. I'm sure there is information there about both. It would certainly be interesting to learn why people would choose such unusual names for their pets and if they use them regularly. It certainly would bring a new dimension to standing among strangers and calling your pet to come, wouldn't it? I will be on the watch for any such trends in pet names who come to see me. Personally, I think I'll stick with the more traditional and time tested names for my pets.