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Friday, December 14, 2012

What's in a Name?

I like words. Hanging the right moniker on a situation, experience or perception rubs my internal genie-lamp and makes it glow. My ideal career would be naming paint colors. Who does that and do they not realize how jealous I am? I cannot evaluate a color-sample without knowing its story. I could fall in love with a shade, just because it is well matched with an inspiring, imaginative or clever word. Words have colors and meaning and depth in my eyes.
In my sideline of fostering dogs, I am chagrined at how little import is given to naming them. It's true that rescuing them is most important and shelter staff carry a heavy load but can they no longer dream of aspirational and singular titles for these canines who are already so down on their luck? Maybe that, in itself, is the reason. How much harder to see a dog put to sleep if you've invested emotionally in matching him personally with an identity?
Foster homes often rename dogs that have come from shelters. If they've only had a name for a week, and no one knows anything about their past, then the family that takes them in has that prerogative. The future forever home can take the name with the dog or choose something meaningful for a fresh start. Within the email group at the core of the organization we sometimes have to refer to a dog as Sally/Nikki/Lady, or similar, so that everyone can follow who we're talking about, depending on when our lives intersected with this particular animal.
I've stayed away from naming any dogs, until Honor. I saw her no-name photo and it was Veterans Day so I asked, "if I foster her, may I name her Honor?". The animal shelter put that name on her paperwork and so did the vet. I took a couple of days to automatically get her name right as Brook and Emma kept spilling from my lips first. In hindsight and in view of her blond good looks, Monroe would also have worked. Now we'll save that for another blonde bombshell.
I do think we can have a naming resource on the rescue web site, so we get a few less Lassies and Laddies. People who've dreamed of a collie since they were kids can't seem to get past the movies. I'd be embarrassed to have a collie named Lassie, but that's just me and a loving home is a loving home, by any name.
Over the last week or two I've been jotting down potential dog names. Some are well worn, like Bonnie, but appropriate for a bonnie dog of Scottish heritage. Others, like Freedom, Liberty, Glory, Treasure and Promise are a nod to their past and hopes for their future. I'm going to roll out my compilation below, in no order whatsoever. If you have ideas to share, I'd love to see them and you can comment on anything, especially if you see that which could be misconstrued, or has a characteristic attached that is negative in any way.
Collies can be sable and white, like Lassie; Tricolor, black white and brown; Blue Merle, or mainly white, with color mostly on the head. They come in smooth (short) coats as well as the long and flowing and, of course, there are both boys and girls. Names can fit a young pup, a teenager or a more veteran rescue, as they come to us in many stages of life. Even those who reach us too late for much but the final, compassionate, rescue, deserve names.
Diva will be first, as she was First Collie for fourteen years, then Bonnie, Freedom, Liberty, Glory, Treasure, Promise, Rambler, Judge, Banner, Kestrel, Hawk, Falcon, Aspen, Dallas, Honey, Whisper, Merlin, Wizard, Pixie, Sixpence, Penny, Rain, River, Meadow, Kipling, Discovery, Topaz, Dirk, Soleil, Frenchie, Hollywood, Doon, Capri, Monroe, DaVinci, Picasso, Darwin, Monet, Matisse, Damson, Royal, Regal, Elsa, Adonis, Athena, Apollo, Jupiter, Zeus, Scout, Dewars, Drambuie, Connery, Wallace, Melodie, MacGregor, Countess, Duchess, Bramble, McTavish, Rainbow, Jewel, Barley, Balmoral, Toddy, Savoy, Carlton, Ritzy, Shandy, Peaches, Scarlet, Rhett, Tara, Gable, Player, Crusoe, Caruso, Rolex, Rover, Journey, Luna, Dreamer, Bardot, Ardent, Heathcliff, Drummer, Bedouin, Traveler, Memphis, Taylor, Bogart, Quest, Giver, Bandana, Bond, Phoenix ,Steinbeck, Twain, Forrest, Robbie, Diamond, Trooper, Dior, Fendi, Pilgrim, Hawthorne, Legend, Story, Oscar, Trophy, Tribute, Lord, Mystery, Magic, Charisma, Panache, Ghillie, Harmony, Gala, Bracken, Fern, Willow, Heather, Rowan, Keeper.....


  1. Love the choice of names! My one and only collie was "King." Not too original, but it suited his regal presence.

    Now, I am a cat owner and face the same naming issues. One of the stray kittens I've taken in is yellow and white. Evoking the names of "cats in my past," I decided, since I'd had a "Big Joe" as a child, that "Joey" would well suit this little guy. Not to be accepted, I fear. "Joey" has decided his proper name is "Joseph." Sometime the little beasties just tell us their names themselves. *G*

  2. All of the dogs we've adopted already had names and we just didn't see any point in changing them. Let's see, first we had Ginger, then there was Ginger, and then another Ginger.

  3. The next time I need to name an animal, I'm emailing you! I am horrible with names and you've got a long list of wonderful ones.

  4. Jean , you have yourToby horse:"to be, or not to be?" which is just brilliant for a teacher and Chance, which is so much better than the inevitable Lucky. Have fun naming those kittens.

    Stephen, I do understand. My parents had a siamese named Kim. The next one was called Kim. The third started as Edwina but soon became Kim. When we would visit with our daughter she got used to being addressed as Kim and as things declined towards the end both my sister and I answered to Kim:(

    Annette, That's just my collie-specific list. I can run lists with any parameters you care to give me:)

  5. Lovely evocative post, ma chère.

    I am a huge fan of doing "mind dumps" of various categories of words. In November 2010, I dumped the titles of 1100 books from my own hoarded word stash and stowed them in Shelfari.

    So, I love your brain drain of exquisite names for wayward collies that might have the good fortune to find safe haven with you for 14 days or 14 years.

    In conclusion, all I can say is, it's a good thing you only had one Lovely Daughter with a light, bright, crystal clear name!

  6. I'm with you on the naming of colours, something about rolling your tongue around each delicious segment and pigment. Rumba black, Erskine green and Bee-bottom brown dribble in torrents in the back of my skull.

  7. The only dog I really know is my daughter's, and he's Geoffrey. I'm afraid I named him...

  8. Ms Pliers, and yet, at the time, my sister said "Nice baby, shame about the name"

    Chef, Bee-bottom brown, will resonate with me for a while, and make me smile.

    Frances, there must be a back-story (or other excuse). Where did that inspiration (?) come from.

  9. Your list is excellent and full of lovely ideas , but may I add a name for anyone whose new puppy has a few extra qualities ?
    Omnivore has a nice ring to it ....

  10. S&S, I try not to get involved with puppies, for good reason:)

  11. Was just looking at an interesting discussion of how many colors there are (which you might stay busy naming for a few decades or more)...

    I wonder how long it takes a dog to learn its name...

  12. we never had pets as kids, but my dad had a collie when he was young and yes, it was called Laddie.

    Our first two cats Charlie and Willow came with those names- when Charlie died and a new cat came into the back door of his own accord i initially wanted to call him Mr Flibble - after a joke in the sit-com Red Dwarf, but was persuaded to keep with the Buffy The Vampire Slayer theme and call him Giles

    After all - i didn't fancy going to the vet and having them call out "Mr Flibble!"

  13. Owen, I will check out that link in a quiet moment. Thanks. As to your question, less than a week, when treats and affection are involved. It takes me a couple of days myself, to match up a new name in my brain.

    Pixie, I did recall that you had a cat named Willow. We have a dog named Willow in our group, who came in pregnant and ended up being a permanent member of her foster household. I think it's a lovely name. (Laddie, not so much:)

  14. We have fostered many dogs that I would have loved to change their names :) I love your list.

  15. P-J, you have fostered so many, you would need every name on the list.
    Keep up the good work.

  16. Imaginative ist. We changed the names of our rescue dogs until the current one, Millie. We think she is a Millie, although she is now Sweetie, as well.

    One quibble, if you called your dog ‘Lord’ in the US wouldn’t you get into trouble with a lot people?

  17. Hi Friko, trust you to look for trouble:) I realize you mean something other than an earthly Lord. I actually thought that all my Duchess and Countess suggestions were provocative, in a country that has no royalty. Then there's Zeus, he's a god too.
    Short answer: My dog, my rules! Thank you for spicing up the conversation.

  18. Ours tend to arrive of their own have no idea what names they had before.

    Currently we have Barack, Tot, Arthur and Beagle with Pellosso arriving at the past we have had Baggus and Batman, Winkle, Henry,Vicar,Bella,Squeak, Soldier,Sausage and Scruff...and before them many more going back to my first dog, Sandy, named by my father.

    It takes them the most time to be confident of not being chased off, to be able to eat the food put out for them, by which time a name usually presents itself and the dog begins to recognise the tone and the number of syllables.
    I notice we have different tones for each dog.

  19. Fly, goodness, you have a whole pack.