Saturday, January 15, 2011
Growing up, I had lots of dogs as pets, but it wasn't until I was 18 years old that I picked out my very first puppy of my own. He was a mixed-breed puppy, blond with a stripe of white on his forehead (see photo at left). I'll admit he was spoiled, and I named him Twinkie.
Yes, Twinkie. That’s right; I named the poor little guy after those delicious cream-filled sponge cake treats. Why did I name him Twinkie? My brother made the comment that he looked like a Twinkie due to his blond fur and the white stripe. My immature teenage mind thought “Awwww, Twinkie! That's such a cutesy wutesy wittle name for the puppy wuppy! *squeal*”
Looking back, I can see that my choice of name for this little guy doomed him to being the butt of every doggy joke, and friends and family alike viewed him as a frou-frou dog, even though he wasn't – all because of his name. He developed a little dog attitude that said to the world “Pamper me. I am the sweet Twinkie baby!”
Yeah, Twinkie wasn't exactly a good choice. My experiences with Twinkie are the perfect example of why a good name – and not a lame name – is important for a dog's self-esteem and behavior. After all, what self-respecting dog wants to be called Poopsy or Boopy?
The truth is, the name can make the dog. What would you think if one of those brave K-9 police dogs was named Puppy Wuppy, Cupcake or Twinkie? Mind you, these are all great names for cats, who couldn't care less about their name (well , except Puppy Wuppy; any cat worth his salt won't appreciate that, but they might let you live).
We choose names for our dogs based upon emotions, a sense of their personality and how we would like them to be perceived. If you have a guard dog, Fluffy may not be the best choice (unless you have a bizarre sense of humor and enjoy a good oxymoron or juxtaposition).
Why is it important for your dog's sense of self-worth to have a name that doesn't rate high on the lameness scale? Sure, all the experts insist that dogs only recognize repetition of sounds, words and phrases and don't actually understand. What if they did understand what you were saying though? Imagine the doggy conversation that would go on!
“Hey, get a load of Puffy there! Look, it's Puffy Snuffy Wuffy in his cute wittle collar!” Yeah, being bullied is never pretty and in the pack world of your dog, being called Snooki can be equal to a 12 year old wearing the Sesame Street sweater his grandmother made to gym class. You get the picture.
If you love your dog, be a responsible pet owner. When you choose a name for your dog, start by making a list of the lamest names you can think of. You know, the names that make you roll your eyes and snicker. Write them all down. Ask friends and family to help you come up with the lamest dog names they can think of. Add them to your lame list.
Then for the love of all that is holy, DO NOT choose a name from this list! Don't even choose a name that's not on the list but sounds like a name on the list. Steer clear. Avoid any association with these lame names like you avoid an angry skunk because just like skunk spray, a lame dog name sticks with you and causes you to make an ugly face. You know the face – where you scrunch up your whole face and it's obvious that something really stinks? Just don't do it!
Instead, choose a great name for your dog that will stand the test of time. Your dog will thank you. I am spreading the word in memory of my Twinkie, who deserved a name like Puddles, or Itty Bitty…or maybe Pooter.
Read more articles by Tamara L. Waters