I cannot tell a lie. One of the reasons I can’t wait to adopt a second dog is that I can’t wait to come up with a new name. It is truly my favourite part. Is that weird?
Names are fascinating to me. Their origins and history, how they have varying levels of importance throughout different cultures. I love discovering new ones. I love how a name can have personal connotations. I love how everyone has an opinion on what makes a “good” name. I love how something so simple has so many deeper ramifications throughout one’s life. Names are important in human society, more important almost than many other things we believe define us. What’s more, they are usually something we have no control over.
As a former student of Latin and mythology, my name preferences tend to bend toward the ancient. If I ever have children, I am probably going to have to curb my affection for Bellerophon and Minerva. It just wouldn’t be fair to my child to saddle them with such a heavy moniker. But when it comes to my animals… I don’t think I will be nearly as restrained!
It took us a few days to decide on Shiva’s name after we brought her home. For a while we debated just calling her “Dog.” But my passion for names wouldn’t allow it. So we wrote a list – a very long list – of every possible name we could think of. We wanted it to be short, no more than two syllables. It also had to be easy to say. Most importantly, it couldn’t be boring. Unique names only, please.
If I remember correctly, our short-list included:
I still kind of like Pepper.
I don’t remember how we settled on Shiva. It just seemed to work. It’s easy to say, can be shortened a million different ways, and is fairly gender-neutral. Yes, I am the kind of person who would name my giant male mastiff, “Princess”. I figure we humans may be stuck with restrictive gender norms, but there is no way I am forcing the same on my dog. Actually, I had a friend growing up who was given permission to name the family’s male golden retriever. She was six at the time and decided upon “Princess Tiffany of the Meadows.” They ended up just calling him Tiffer.
But I digress.
I am curious how you came up with your dog’s or cat’s name. Do you like human names for animals? I once knew a miniature schnauzer named “Richard.” It sill strikes me as a little odd. Do you prefer more descriptive names, like “Shadow” or “Snowball”? Did it take you a long time to decide? Do you even attribute any importance to names at all, human or animal? Please feel free to share any and all name-related biases in the comments!