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What’s the Story Behind Your Pet’s Name?

When I adopted my first dog, I wanted to name her Ham.  Not because I’m a big pork fan, but because I felt animals took after their names.  I thought a dog named Ham would end up being a big clown.  But my mother decided she was not going to yell “Ham come” out the back door, so I settled for Whitney, after Whitney Houston.  Fortunately, she didn’t take after her namesake and was the best first dog a person could have.


I love deciding what to name my pets.  Sometimes I come up with a name right away other times it takes a few days to decide just the right one.  I like names so much I even keep a list of potential ones to use.  You never know when one might fit or a friend is looking for suggestions.

Names can tell a lot about the pet and their people.  Often there’s a  story behind  why a name was chosen.  Here are some of the stories behind how some of my zoo crew got their names.



His original name was Toby, but a friend’s dog had that same name and it didn’t seem like a good fit. I like to rename my adopted pets giving them a new start with a new life and a name that has no negative connotations. I had chosen the name Chaos off my name list, but when I picked him up after he was neutered at the shelter, it didn’t seem right. There was a country music band named Ricochet and that seemed like a perfect name for an on-the-go Jack Russell.



I had no intention of adopting another cat when the head vet tech came back in the the treatment area with a 4 week old kitten someone had found and brought to the Emergency Vet Hospital I worked at. She held her out and showed us the cutest kitten.  I knew I was in trouble when the name Charm popped into my head, but I didn’t need another cat. I spent the rest of my shift hoping the other tech would take her home, but that didn’t happen.  She ended up coming home with me after all with her new name.



I found him on Petfinder.  His post was pretty much like all the other ferrets until I got to the end where they had added “he might have something wrong with his legs”.  That didn’t seem right so I went to the shelter the next day to check him out and ended up adopting him.  I’m not sure what they thought might be wrong with his legs, I couldn’t find anything wrong and he moved like a normal ferret walking around the getting acquainted room at the shelter. As I was watching him in the room, I decided to name him Amblin since he seemed to be having fun ambling around.

Eco, my Senegal Parrot



Eco’s name was easy. He joined my household on Earthday and he was green(part green anyway) so something to do with the environment seemed right.



Yes, I’m a kind of a Gleek.  In the pilot episode they show a sign that said “By its very definition, Glee is about opening yourself up to joy.”  I loved that quote and felt it was a perfect description of what it felt like when pets shared your life. When I adopted a bunny a few months after seeing the quote, it just seemed right to name her Glee, especially after watching her do bunny binkies.


What’s the story behind your pet’s name?

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8 replies on “What’s the Story Behind Your Pet’s Name?”

This was such a great post! My fave name of all of yours was Ricochet! Perfect!

My Bobo was named Bobo because my ex husband had a cat who was named Bobo that was killed by a car. When we found OUR Bobo he was identical to the cat my husband had that had been killed.

Cody was named Cody because I always liked that name. His original name was Prince. The rescue lady had said “Oh noooo don’t name him Cody! All Cody’s are crazy!” Well, I did, and he is lol. My husband said he should be Prince Cody because he likes all things fine and he loves sitting on this regal looking chairs we have.

Dakota was previously named Tanner which I didn’t like. I had always liked the name Dakota and I looked it up online to see what it meant…it means “trusted friend” in American Indian….I couldn’t have made a better choice!

I have a huge list of names for future use – pet names and also conformation names (i.e. their ‘show name’). I literally have a long document on my computer with a names list.

My first boy, “MacDogald”, was named because I wanted something Scottish (“Mac”) but the simplicity didn’t quite fit with me. His name was decided before he was born, and he was actually born with a white ‘M’ on his chest. I think he was meant to be!

“Clover” was named because I wanted something Scottish or English again (they’re border terriers, the border of Scotland and England). Apparently, Clover is an English name. When I saw her she seemed a little bit like an old lady (even as a puppy), so I thought Clover was apt… Apparently, I decided this too soon because she’s the mad one in the house!

“Chip” was chosen by his other owners… He was born in Denmark, and my request was that I could spell and say his name easily!

“Winona” is the daughter of Chip and Clover, and her name means ‘first born daughter’ (which she is). She was the first puppy born, first one to open her eyes, first one out of the whelping box, and so I felt like I had a ‘winner’ on my hands. “Winona” suited perfectly.

“Myrtle” is the second daughter of Clover (different father), and I wanted to name her Myrtle just because her mum’s name is Clover… Y’know, get a plant theme going on? Her name will hopefully be (paper work pending) “Leema Myrtle N Clover” – so her mum’s incorporated into her show name, too.

I’ve named a few fosters that have come through, too. Often, I have to give them a name before I have even seen them, so I try to choose something generic or endearing. I name my two recent boys “Buddy” and “Harry”. The two puppies I had were named “Pocket” (because she was small enough to fit in your pocket) and “Napoleon” (because he overcame adversity). Sadly, all these dogs were given new names by their new homes (!).

Thinking of animals other than dogs: The bird is called “Millhouse” because we like the Simpsons (it also works well if he happens to be a girl!). My chickens are called “Pretty Polly” (after the Dick King Smith book) and “Dolly” (just ’cause I wanted an ‘olly name to match).

Kolchak is named after an old Darrin McGavin TV show called Kolchak: The Night Stalker. It’s about a reporter that is always stumbling into mysteries like werewolves and vampires and all sorts of fun stuff. We love the obscurity of it and that we can easily identify kindred spirits in those that recognize the reference.

You make me feel better about renaming after adoption with your stories. I’ve seen some people freak out a little over that, but all my guys have taken to their new name with no problem. Great names!

I’ve done confirmation names too! Ricochet although adopted from a shelter has his ILP (I forget what AKC changed this too). I named him Lescpa Off the Wall. Lespca are the initials of the shelter (kind of, it should be Lcspca. I let it go) and Off the Wall is from my list.

That’s interesting Jodi. I had to go to Wikipedia to find the TV show. I don’t remember the show, but it said it was credited with being the inspiration for the X-Files which I use to love. Might have to check out Hulu to see if they have the show. Great Story!

Loved hearing the stories behind the names! 🙂 No great story for Bella – we came up a list and somehow that just fit, you know?

When our little terrier mix adopted us, we agreed on the name “Hobo” because our’s was the 4th. home for him.
His brisk managerial style with us and our cats became the inspiration for my book, The Richest Dog in Town.”

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