T.S. Eliot begins “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” with a poem called “The Naming of Cats”. He writes that each cat actually has two names in addition to the one they are given by their human family. Regarding the names they are given by their families, he writes;
First of all, there’s the name that the family use daily,
Such as Peter,
Augustus, Alonzo or James,
Such as Victor or Jonathan, George or Bill
All of them sensible everyday names.
There are fancier names if
you think they sound sweeter,
Some for the gentlemen, some for the
Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter–
But all of them sensible
Regarding this business of having 3 names, I think most dogs would consider this pretentious. At the very least they would see it as conspicuous consumption. It provokes a thought, however. How do dogs get their names?
On our block, in addition to Harper there are Charlie, Jasmin. and Spockey. We spent time recently with some friends and their Labradoodle; Molly.
The first dog I remember was a Beagle named Belle. We had a dog when I was 5-6 called Popcorn; I assume this was because he (she??) liked to eat it. I think my sister came up with the name. My sister was 10 and usually got her way about such things. My mother had a Chihuahua for many years. We got the puppy from a woman who had named her Pequeña. She told us the name meant small or tiny. My mother liked the name so it stuck.
I’ve had a number of dogs in my adult life. There was a Weimaraner name Beau, a rescued lab-mix named Jake and a chocolate lab named Chloë. I don’t remember why I gave them those names but they all seemed happy with them and so was I.
Harper’s Other Dad grew up in a family that always had schnauzers. They named all of them Hans (Hans I, Hans II, Hans III, etc.).
Harper is the first dog Harper’s Other Dad and I have had together. (See “About Harper”). She was a rescue pup. Her previous family named her “Eponie” but they were not very nice to her and we didn’t like the name so she became Harper. There was no particular reason. We both like the play “Angels in America” and there is a female character in the play named Harper. In the play, Harper has mental health issues and a substance abuse problem but we didn’t let that deter us.
We were on vacation recently so we boarded Harper. During the day she was in Day Camp. Day Camp is kind of like the Vacation Bible School I attended in my childhood except she doesn’t come home with anything she’s glued shell macaroni onto and spray-painted gold that we have to pretend to treasure.
When we pick her up after boarding we always receive a report card summarizing her stay. They always tell us what a pleasure it is to have her. We know this to be fact, of course, but we also suspect they may say that about all their guests. According to the report card “She had a blast in camp with Bella, Chloë, Mack, Oliver, Roxy, Watson, Zoe, Lucy, Sam, and Foxy”
I have only 4 guidelines for naming dogs:
The name should be no more than 2 syllables.
It should be something that isn’t embarrassing to yell in a park.
You shouldn’t give a dog the name of someone you know or may encounter.
The name shouldn’t be something that will make other people say; “What the hell were they thinking?” (like “Foxy”)
On the other hand, David Sedaris; in describing the naming of rabbits invading their garden wrote; “It’s my yard. The rabbit was my intruder and I was free to name him whatever stupid thing I wanted. Be it a noun, a verb, even an adjective if I wanted.” He then cites examples such as “Runny”, “Moist”, and “Screened in Patio”. But Mr. Sedaris is a professional writer so I think that would come with a warning like; “Don’t try this at home”.