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How Did You Choose Your Pet's Name?

Our names are important and are a part of our identity. They are usually chosen by our parents and may be connected to family, culture, someone admired or other deeply personal reasons.

Is it the same for our pets?

What determines our choice of name for our pet? Is it just some arbitrary decision or is it something more consciously thought out than that?

I got curious about the history of naming animals and found out that naming pets has changed over time. Names for pets used to be more focused on a physical trait, for instance Spot or Blacky. Then it moved more toward a personality trait of the animal, like Princess or Duke.

As the importance of the animal-human bond has grown, the tendency for naming our pets has shifted yet again. More and more people consider their pets as family members (YAY!) and treat them as their children.

What does this mean when it comes to naming our pets?

It seems that the more our pets become family members the more likely they are to receive a name that has historically been a human name, for example, Fred or Lucy. Not always though! I’ve worked with and met many furry loved ones that have been named after cities (Mendocino), trees (Aspen), or mountains (Everest). And then there are the cartoon, (Pebbles), movie (Luke and Leia) or book characters (Dr. Watson and Inspector Clouseau).

With curiosity I strolled down my own memory lane to consider the names of some of my furry companions and whether the name was arbitrary or more consciously thought out.

First there was Bitsy…I don’t know if I chose this name before my sister chose the name Itsy for her mouse or if it was a joint decision since we brought them home at the same time.

Baldy, my chinchilla, came pre-named. He was from a litter that was bred to be sold, but because he didn’t have fur they didn’t think they could sell him, so he was given to me. I didn’t see a reason back then to change his name. He did grow very soft, beautiful fur and is one of my animal guides today.

Pax, another of my animal guides that you hear so much about, also came pre-named. He was named because his demeanor was that of peace.

Gibson, my brother’s dog that considers me his mom (at least that’s my story LOL), was named after Bob Gibson, Hall of Fame Cardinal baseball pitcher. He was my brother’s favorite baseball player as a child (and even today)!

The most interesting story for me around naming a pet was for a big black and white dog that showed up one day and continued to visit us at both our house and property where our business office was located. We were told that the dog had been left in the neighborhood by someone who didn’t live there anymore. I fell in love with this big guy and we decided to be his guardians. One day I decided to let him into the office building. No one seemed to know the dog’s name so I asked the dog what it would like to be called. The dog walked right into our bookstore and stopped and kept staring at a book on the bottom shelf. The book that he was fixated on was The Aladdin Factor, by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen. I immediately knew exactly what this magical being wanted, and from that day forward he was known to us as Aladdin!

So that’s how some of my furry companions got their names. Was your choice of name well thought out or more random?

How did you choose your furry loved ones’ names? Was it…

  • a character trait you observed?

  • after someone you admire(d) or wanted to be like?

  • a physical characteristic?

  • after a fictional character?

  • after an object?

  • something else? If so, what?

What are your special stories about your pet's name?


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