It’s all in the name
It all started yesterday, while attaining the "signalment," that is the vital statistics of an animal patient, and I was taken aback by the naming process of our pets. "What have you named your puppy, Mrs. Busybody?" I inquired patiently. After some thought, she grinned slightly from the corners of her mouth, "I think I'll call him Terrorist. He's constantly destroying everything in his path."
Although Mrs. Busybody could not bring herself to name her puppy after such a notable group of fine upstanding citizenry, she settled for a less imposing human name, Harvey. I pondered for just a moment how suitable this name was for this lanky Labrador puppy, but then blew the thought off considering she named him after a relative or movie star.
Naming a pet, to this writer and veterinarian, seems at times very spontaneous, or on the other hand, could be delayed and downright simple. Usually when one acquires a new pet, a name is picked out shortly thereafter. The majority of names selected are human names and a bit corny in nature.
We once had a cat who just looked like a Walter so old Walter was affixed with this name and actually came running when called from afar.
Occasionally, new pet owners come in undecided on a name. For the record, we affix a common name like Tom to a cat. Recently, we saw a cat that we had not seen in some years come in for tests. The name Tom had been given to the cat, although a female, but darned if that cat didn't wear the name of Tom all her feline life. I do not know how many times I have coined a newly adopted cat or dog Stray on record, only to be properly corrected next time the owners come in. "By the way Doc, you can change our dog's name to George -- he's no longer a stray," our client would formally exclaim. I would humbly tuck my tail between my legs and make the change promptly in the computer.
After considering old Harvey, I was curious (hoping curiosity would not affect a vet like a cat) to see what names came up under "H" in our list of patient names. I was surprised and thought I would share a few notable titles.
For cats, I found Hairball, Hairy, Hissy, Happy and Happy Gilmore. Interesting. Some of these names were descriptive and after a famous movie character. Among the most common dog names with 10 to 20 entries were Hank, Henry, Hannah, Heidi, Hobbs, Holly Hunter or Honey. One name that has become increasingly popular because of the rising popularity of a certain brand of motorcycle is Harley. Helga, Helew, Herman and Hershey round out the "H" list. I thought of a few others like Handsome, of which on occasion and after much good behavior, my wife coins me once in a while. The list goes on and on.
Whatever happened to the good old names like Spot, Rover, Pooch or Miss Kitty? As we have, so lovingly, included our furry friends as a part of our immediate families, the name list has grown in diversity and personality. I've even had clients who kept pet rats, one of which was named Pablo. Whatever the reason or type, we will always come up with some imaginative nomenclature for our pet friends. I remember a beloved female black Labrador retriever I had a few years back I named Sara Lee.
When asked "Why the name?" I would reply, "Because she was as sweet as the coffee cake line."
The next Lab we owned was a chocolate Lab, which we named appropriately, Chocolate Ãclair, or Claire for short. On and on the list goes.
So when choosing your pet's name next time, do not worry or fret. Anything goes, even Happy Gilmore. Maybe you'll get a hockey or golf partner.