Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Popular Pet Names

By Langley Cornwell

The names people give their pets fascinate me. Not just the names, but the reason behind the names. For instance, our all white dog is named Frosty and I believe the name is self-explanatory. My husband named our second dog Big Al because we like Alabama football (Roll Tide) and their elephant mascot is named Big Al. Not wildly original, but that’s the back story.

The list of popular pet names was recently updated and the top spot for dogs and cats was Bella, undoubtedly because of Twilight. On one list, Bella was the 3rd most popular name for birds and exotic pets. Another pet name that ranks high on the list is Max. Names like Max and Lucy are often used in children’s picture books, and kids help name the family pet so that stands to reason – Max is the hero’s name in Where the Wild Things Are. Live Science reports that humanlike names like Charlie or Lucy are popular for dogs, while unisex names like Shadow and Smokey, describing physical traits like color, currently rank high for cats.

These reports are all very interesting, but I decided to tap into my bevy of creative friends. I asked a simple question: what is your pet's name and why?

Literary characters, musicians, and television or movie characters 

Starr’s boys named their dog Marley after Bob Marley, and Juniper named her attention-loving cat Ziggy Stardust because she’s a David Bowie fan. One of Cathy’s dogs carries the name Ozzy because her daughter was a big Ozzy Osbourne fan. She has another rescue dog with beautiful deep eyes that she fell in love with immediately so she named him Rudy, after Rudolph Valentino.

Ann has a cat named Maynard. He’s named for both John Maynard Keynes and Maynard G. Krebbs. She also says the name fits him perfectly. Her cat Beatrix came with that name, so she kept it because of Beatrix Potter.

My friend Lian’s Siberian Husky’s name is Medea after his favorite character from Greek mythology, while Laurie’s brother cats are Figg and Isaac, the Newton brothers.

Heather’s pets are named Sam and Dean after the main characters on her favorite television show, Supernatural. Adam named his cat Dog, after that guy on TV that’s a bounty hunter. Karen’s calico cat is Ginger; she says the cat is a bit of a fireball with a prissy attitude, so they named her from the character on the old Gilligan's Island show. Beth named her pet Avery after the Color Purple character, Shug Avery.

Physical characteristics or locational circumstances   

Genevieve’s dog's name was Grizzly, because she looked like Grizzly cub when she was a puppy. Kendall named her dog, a Papillion/poodle mix, Kodi because he looked like a Kodiak bear when he was a baby.

There are some clever names associated with a pet’s coloration. Jolynne’s dog was Onyx because she was all black, and Lori’s dog is Oreo because she’s black and white and sweet. Wendy’s red golden is called Walker for Johnnie Walker Red. He is the reddest goldie I have ever seen. Kenvian’s kids named their little white Bichon Casper.

I heard about Mr. Weiner the dachshund, and Gypsy, a stray cat that Virginia found. Because she was wandering and her varied coat pattern reminded Virginia of the colorful attire a gypsy would wear, that became her name. Cindy named her cat Rain because she went out to the car in a rain storm and this terrified little kitten came running out from under the car, drenched and ready to adopt Cindy and her family.

Claudia named her Yorkie Aspen because that’s where her husband is from and they love it there. Melissa’s giant Bullmastiff's name is Dozer. He was named by her 6 and 8 year old sons who named him Dozer because he “bulldozes over people.”

Two of my animal-loving friends from college have opened their home to many stray animals through the years. They take wonderful care of these animals, feed them CANIDAE pet food and provide plenty of love. On top of all that, they give the pets very creative names. For instance:

Millie (Golden Retriever mix) – because they found her just before the Millennium
Summer – they found this Black Lab mix in August. She just died a year ago at the age of 20.
Snickers – who is a Chocolate Lab.
Independence (Indy) and Liberty (Libby) - two cats they found over the July 4th holiday.
Zeta – a cat they took in around the time Katherine Zeta Jones was in Zorro. The cat’s face color is split down the middle like a mask.
Beenie – a cat they took in who was so small she looked like a Beanie Baby.
Trixie – a cat born with 3 1/2 legs that can do tricks.
Herman and Gladys – a joke we had at school because the tourists flocked to our mountain town during the summer and fall and we fondly referred to them as Herman and Gladys.

So what about you? What is your pet’s name, and why did you choose it?

Photos by Lisa Williams (cat) and David Leather (dog)

Read more articles by Langley Cornwell


  1. Wow, Medea is beautiful - gives the Momster puppy fever:)

    Woos – Phantom, Thunder, Ciara, and Lightning

  2. Our Shih Tzu is named Taj, after the singer Taj Mahal. My baby, April, who died in November 2012 @ 10 1/2 years, was a puppy mill mama just happened to be born in April. Not original at all, but she looked like her name! She was a red/white Boston Terrier.

  3. I had a coon hound named Grrits, and another named Fleabags (she had horrible flea infestation when we got her). My big German Shepherd mix is Nacho. My old lady Yellow Lab/Golden retriever was formally named Saffron but she has always been called Saffy. Black Lab already had a name when we took him from neglectful owners - he is Maverick, name suits him to a T.

  4. Me & Myself are named GUIDO the Italian Kitty cuz I comes from Land O' Pizza Meowgarita & basta pasta!

  5. My German Shepherd is named Reina. It means Queen in Spanish. We have some friends that used to have a dog named Princess. I wanted something more powerful sounding than that for a German Shepherd, so Reina it was. It's fitting because she's now about 100 pounds!

  6. My husband and I are big Joss Whedon tv show (Buffy, Angel, Firefly) fans. So when we got a red and white female husky puppy we wanted something unique for her. We decided to name her Inara (after the companion in Firefly), but her nickname is Inu which is Japanese for "dog". Then when we adopted a 1 year old Alaskan Klee Kai she came with the name of Lucy, which did not fit her personality at all, we decided to name her Willow (after the Buffy the vampire slayer character). The name suits her quite well.


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