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The Pet Name Game

posted January 14th, 2013 by
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To most people, naming a pet is almost as important as naming a child. Everyone wants to give their pet a name that has some significance. “Why bother?” some may wonder. Probably because a name helps you get close to your pet, because it’s personal, and because naming is what humans do. People often consult popular pet names very much the way they consult popular baby names before bestowing the perfect one.

You may be wondering how pet owners come up with such colorful names. One popular way to name pets is to choose the name you’ve always liked or wanted to name your baby. Another way is to name the pet after a human in history or someone you know. Still another way is to name the pet something ironic, like TulsaPets reader Mariann Ostapowich Haggerty who named her 150-pound Great Dane “Tynnee.”

Recently, we asked our readers to submit their unique pet names. The following list includes some of our favorites.

“Menses,” a cat submitted by Sarah Cockburn

“Nubby” submitted by Jodi Koch

“Muzby,” because her owner thought when she adopted the Boston Terrier that she “muzby crazy” submitted by Caryn Adams

“Macabee,” a Scottish Terrier Schnauzer mix submitted by Jaime Squaresky Chasen

“Rufus,” a Pit Bull mix submitted by Angela Webb

“Fallacy,” a rescued Scottie named after FDR’s Falla;

“Queen Santa Anna Belle,” or “Queenie” for short, a Schnauzer wilder than the Santa Anna Winds submitted by Sam Newcomb Wolohon

“Steinbeck,” a lab submitted by Lisa Hood Parker

“Dexter, the Super Pup,” a mutt submitted by Natalie Thomas

“Kelso,” named after Ashton Kutcher’s character on “That 70s Show;” yet he turned out more like grumpy Dr. Bob Kelso on “Scrubs” submitted by Amanda Thompson Sumner

“Pepper and Gordita,” two rats

What’s In A Name?

posted March 15th, 2012 by
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by Dolores Proubasta

It is a remarkable sound, a name. It resonates with identity and plucks out the individual from a crowd or a pack. Men have used names since time immemorial, and there are studies underway to determine whether dolphins use them, too. To our knowledge, other species don’t use the equivalent of individual names, but cow or crow, domestic or wild, animals become “connected” to the names we give them. How connected? People seeking to adopt adult dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, ferrets, and others who already have a name often wonder if it is possible to change it.

Animal shelters tend to keep owner-given names—even when the animal is seized from its abusers—in the belief that an animal yanked out of everything he knows (good or bad) will find some comfort in hearing his own familiar name. It’s a debatable theory.

Relative to the radical changes any animal faces in a shelter or a new home—new people, rules, commands, environment and hostile pets, to mention only a few— a new name is the least of his concerns. Some “second chance” animals are in their third, fourth or fifth home (and may have had as many names), and a new name will be as readily accepted as a meal and a dry bed. Therefore, keeping the old name is not as essential as many believe; however, changing it can be.

A disturbing sign concerning timid, abused, neglected or overly-trained animals is that while they may “respond” to their name, they also shiver, cower, flinch or urinate. Whatever negative associations are the cause of the distress, shelter workers, foster parents, or the adoptive parents would be well advised to change it right away.

Even when an animal responds positively to his name, in the voice of strangers like shelter staff, volunteers and visitors, it tends to lose its “grip.” Unidentified strays, for instance, are given provisional names to which they are as likely to respond as not in the chaos of shelter conditions. I never cease to be amused (and equally irritated) by visitors who call out the name they see on the kennel card followed by an imperious command, such as “Sissy, sit!”

“Yeah…” thinks Sissy, “in a minute, Bubba, as if I understand what you’re saying with 92 dogs barking, gates slamming, kids squealing, and by the way, no hablo inglés!”

So the answer is yes, names can, and often should, be changed—left behind with a past best forgotten.

But still what to call the new companion? The power of the word should not be taken lightly, especially for personal names. Why is Dr. Dement a shrink? Or Mr. Goldman a jeweler? Think about it. Rare and crazy are the parents who would call their child, say, Ugly. It is all too common, however, for people to call their pets pejoratives like Loco, Stinkpot, Dummy, Cujo, and worse. Distasteful monikers are no reflection of the true nature of the animal, but of the owner’s low regard for him. It comes as no surprise then that animals surrendered by their owners to the local shelter often have ridiculous names.

Ideally, the name acknowledges the dignity, beauty and uniqueness of an individual. While old standbys like Max, Bella, Oreo and clichés a la Bunny, Kitty and Woof hardly accomplish such a lofty function, they are among the 100 USA favorites; each country has its own hackneyed nomenclature with which cats and dogs get stuck. Refreshingly, some pet parents find more inspired names, borrowing from flowers, gems, historic and mythical figures, natural phenomena, landmarks, vintage car models, heavenly bodies and much more—in English and in other languages, as well.

Dogs in particular quickly learn a new name, regardless of how old they are when adopted. The trick is to use it: 1) preceding every desired action; (2) in connection with treats, walks, play, approval and everything the pet enjoys; and (3) consistently avoiding nicknames, shortened versions, or “boy” until the official name is learned.

Like no other word, a name signals individuality, which is why neither “Hey You” nor “Stinky” will do. 

Wacky Pet Names

posted August 29th, 2011 by
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By Anna Holton-Dean

Think your pet has a creative name? Or perhaps you’re a traditionalist – say, Spot or Trixie?

Well, Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI), the nation’s largest and oldest pet health insurance provider, released their list of the most wacky and creative pet names for the fourth consecutive year.  According to, VPI employees selected 50 unusual dog names and 50 unusual cat names from over 485,000 insured pets in their database. Then, they narrowed them down by voting for the 10 wackiest in both categories.

So, what 20 were the wackiest of all?


  1. Almost-A-Dog
  2. Franco Furter
  3. Stinkie Mcstinkerson
  4. Sir Seamus McPoop
  5. Audrey Shepburn
  6. Dewey Decimell
  7. Knuckles Capone
  8. Beagle Lugosi
  9. Shooter Mclovin
  10. Uzi Duzi-Du


  1. Ozzy Pawsbourne
  2. Mr. Meowgi
  3. Murderface
  4. Fuglee
  5. Scruffernutter
  6. Corporal Cuddles
  7. Cat Masterson
  8. Spam
  9. Tape W. Orm
  10. Louisiana Purchase


Almost all of the owners who were asked said they came up with the names based on their pets’ unusual behavior or characteristics, VPI Corporate Communications Director Curtis Steinhoff said in the article. So while they were all deserving of their carefully chosen names, it would still be a little awkward to hear Stinkie Mcstinkerson yelled across the dog park.

We’d love to hear Tulsa’s most unique and interesting pet names.  Tell us your quirky pet name by leaving a comment below.    If we get enough feedback we will publish the wacky names in an upcoming issue!