The Perfect Call Name

Whenever a new pup joins the family, the perfect call name becomes the first consideration. Fortunately, I tend to collect names. Historical figures, fictional folk, athletes from the sports pages, that long list of credits at the end of a movie, the name tags on grocery store check-out people – all provide possibilities.

Beardies are special dogs so they deserve special names. Never could I bring myself to dub a dog something as ordinary as Buddy, Daisy, Dusty or Buffy. There are certain criteria for a fitting call name. It should be reasonably brief, distinctive, not sound like an obedience command (so forget about Stan or Shay) and it should convey a hint of the Beardie’s personality. Since I tend to believe some dogs do their darndest to live up to their names, I steer clear of names that might suggest problems. And I will never again name a dog Gabby!

When puppies are small, cute and cuddly, owners might want to call them an endearing puppy name. But then they grow up and the owner is likely to be embarrassed to be chasing after their pet while shouting, “Babykins, come here.” And what suits a puppy may be totally out of character when that dog is an adult. As a puppy, my first dog’s coat was a mass of ringlets. So we called her Curly. By the time she was an adult, there wasn’t a curl to be found on her, but the name stuck, inappropriate as it was.

It’s gratifying to have a name that’s a little out of the ordinary. I mean, who wants to walk into a training class, call your dog’s name and have three other canines perk up their ears and wonder why you’re calling them. Or imagine leaving your dog, Dusty, on a long down in an obedience trial and hearing another competitor in the next ring bellow “Dusty, come!” as she executes a recall. But, have you noticed it’s getting more difficult to find a name a little out of the ordinary? Recently, a lady who got a pup from me announced she was naming her Kirra. I told her she had a sister from a previous litter named Keira (spelled differently but pronounced the same). Two sisters named Keira. It kind of reminded me of the character on the Bob Newhart show of some years ago who introduced the two boys with him as “my brother, Daryl and my other brother, Daryl.” Then there was the time I had a litter of just two male pups. I kept one and named him Jordan and his brother went to a lady in Nova Scotia who also named her boy Jordan. The ultimate had to be a friend who had two Beardies named Megan. She named the first, then adopted the second who was already named Megan. At least it saved shouting out two names when she called them in.

Names tend to go in cycles. All it takes is a movie, a song or a tv character and a new wave rolls in. Wouldn’t you love a dollar for every dog named Rambo? Now, once popular names like Rover, Skippy and Duke have faded into the past. Recent surveys show Max is now the most popular name for a male dog. Did Mad Max have something to do with that?

For all the thought that goes into finding the perfect call name, it may be more important to the owner than to the dog. I can call my gang by their names (if I can remember which is which) or I can call “cookie” and get the same response. They’ll also answer to Teddybear, Bananabrain or Fuzzface. The only thing they don’t like to be called is late to dinner.

alice bixler, Bearded Collie Club of America,