The “Art” of Naming Pets

About a week ago, we posted on our Facebook page, asking folks to tell us their pets’ names. We got a fantastic response in a short period of time, more than 125 names, including Trumpy the pig, and a cohort of ducks named Peeps, Lenny, Penny, Bert, and Ernie. What was amazing is that with the exception of four (Blu/Blue, Sophie/Sofie, Loki, and Lola), there were no repeats. And in checking the list against’s Top 10 Dog Names for 2017, there were only nine matches out of twenty names (Cooper, Buddy, Jack, and Oliver for males; Lucy, Molly, Lola, Bailey, and Sophie for females). To us here at petswelcome, that’s a sign of some pretty impressive creativity in naming pets. It got us to thinking about how we come to name our pets, and we started with our own menagerie.

First, there are pets that come to you with their names already in place. For us, it was Jill, our first cat, who lived in the house before we bought it, was given to a neighbor nearby, decided she’d rather go back home, and set up shop on our (her) front porch. After returning her numerous times, we gave in and she lived with us until she passed at age 17. Our viszla Rusty also came already named, a rescue from a relationship gone sour. Obviously named for his coat color, we thought he deserved a better one until we realized he had gone through enough and didn’t need the confusion of a name change.

Rusty the viszla
Rusty, with his permanent look of concern

Then there is the time-honored tradition of letting your kids name the pet. For us, that resulted in a cat named Stripes who definitely didn’t have stripes and another cat (both were rescues) called Juno, as our daughter was a big fan of the movie. The kids also named Hobbes, our bracco Italiano, because of their love for the comic strip; it ended up being apropos–as a pup, he was a bit Hobbesian himself, though in a good-natured way, sowing chaos and chewed-up shoe destruction in his wake until he grew up and settled down a bit.

Stripes the cat
Stripes, the unstriped cat

It turns out that pet owners like giving their pets human names (according to, 44% of dogs have human names), and we were no different. Our first viszla was Milo (what can we say, he just looked like a Milo) and we had a snow white cat we rescued as a kitten named Lily. There were some great human names in the batch we got on Facebook: Monique, Chloe, Coco, Hazel, Petie, Sasha, Barbara Claire, Jane, Henry, and Dexter.

Then there are those times when a name is just meant for a puppy or kitten–as was the case with our first bracco. When my wife saw his picture from the breeder before I went to pick him up, with his big nose, long ears, and orange spots, she exclaimed, “What a smudge pot!” and a name was born, Smudge. And he grew into that name. Unlike Hobbes, Smudge had a very wet mouth. He didn’t drool; rather it would accumulate in his mouth and periodically he would do a long windup, shaking his head, faster and faster, until great gobs of it would go flying. Friends and family knew to duck and take cover, but it was pretty impossible to avoid getting hit at some point, which we called “getting smooged.”

And that’s the other fun part about pet names, the nicknames that come after you’ve name the pet, which for our lot have included Smoogie, Hobbit, and Rustoleum, or the litany of “we should have named you” names, as puppies and kittens grow and show you previously unknown qualities. In the case of Hobbes, it’s that he is the heaviest footed dog in the world, hence his “should of” name, Stompy McPherson.

Hobbes the bracco Italiano
Hobbes in his youth; look at the size of his paws even then!

So it seems to us there really is no wrong name to give to a pet, so long as it is bestowed with love. We say Bravo! to all our FaceBook responders and their pets,  whether it be Gizzy, Sweet Pea, Missile, Truvie, Mr. Gibbs, Bubbe, Chewie, Penny Candy, Squeeks, Baby Girl, Moosh, or Tank.

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