People quite often ask how we choose names for our dogs. Well, it is a carefully managed system which is extremely complicated. Err, actually there is no logic to it whatsoever! It is just whatever springs to mind!
Pedigree (“LOF” in French) dogs’ names usually start with the letter from their year of birth. Puppies born this year will generally be called by names starting with the letter “I”. Some people follow this practice for non-pedigrees. So yesterday’s sad arrival, Hoch, was born last year, for example.
At the SPA when a litter of pups arrives we often stick to a theme. So we had a “Planets” litter earlier this year, and also chocolate bars (we still get news from Twix and some of his chocolaty siblings!). And Mabrouk and Lady are two puppies at the refuge who are left from the “Celebrity” litter.
Dogs who are abandoned at the refuge or arrive already identified tend to keep their names, unless there is a good reason why not. Occasionally a dog has clearly been mistreated and we wish to give it a fresh start, so we change its name. Sometimes if a dog is not reclaimed we rebaptise him or her. One such case is an identified dog, Gaspard, who arrived last week. But we already have a Gaspard, so whilst we are keeping this name for the time being (in case his owners are looking for him on the Internet), once it is obvious that he is available for adoption, we will change his name to Inuit, which suits a husky cross much better, in our opinion. It also avoids confusion when volunteers say they are taking Gaspard for a walk! One dog could end up getting his legs walked off and the other could be very neglected!
Sometimes a dog arrives and just “looks like a Harry” or whatever. Sometimes it is a unanimous decision, sometimes whoever puts the photos on our Facebook page (and five of us share this task) makes the decision. Sometimes I suggest a name and all the French native speakers laugh their heads off, as it may sound rude in French. However we have a dog called Pollux, (this week’s urgent appeal) and I doubt that any English adopters would keep this name!
Personally I don’t like very macho sounding names on dogs that risk being viewed as aggressive. I don’t like names like Tyson and last year we even had a Rottweiler called Danger. I think this just reinforces stereotypes. But of course as with naming children, it is a matter of personal preference. Unless you believe in nominative determinism, that is!
And finally, of course everyone is free to rename any dog they adopt from us. An entire life is changing, so a dog will get used to a new name very quickly! Kindness and regularity of routine are far more important to a dog than what he or she is called!