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The Evolution of Dog Names (AKA: why isn't my dog coming when called?)

Updated on August 22, 2013

The evolution of dog names - Hey, YOU! Come here!

It dawned on me the other day that, although I have 6 dogs iiving with me (and, don't get me wrong - that's a LOT), an outsider would think there are at least a few dozen if he or she heard me calling my pets throughout the day. Each and every canine has at least 3 nicknames, some so far fetched I can't even remember how they got there! That's how I came up with the idea for this Squidoo page - The Evolution of Dog Names.

In the picture, from left to right, are Matee, Barley, Killian, Gizmo, Hops and Rita (in the back). They're all waiting for "dessert" (a bone after breakfast). I just missed getting the cat, JB, in the photo shoot.

This article is strictly for my own amusement, and, I hope, yours!

Update: 8/31/12 - Hopps, my 3 legged lover boy, had a stroke on May 16th 2012 and I had to let him go. He was the most gentle soul of any of my current or past dogs and one that I dearly miss. Hopps gave exactly one soft kiss a day - I was sometimes the grateful recipient and sometimes not. I miss him very much but he taught me so much about how, at least for a dog, losing a leg is not such a big thing. He ran with vigor; he just didn't corner too well. To read more about Hopps, check out my article: Hopps, my 3 legged wonder dog.

Before we get started, you might be wondering... - ...about the liquor theme of most of my dogs' names

No, I'm not all t hat enamored with liquor (well I am but I'm sticking by that story...). Actually, the dogs names based on liquor started when I was trying to find a new name for Barley (who was still Riley) when I got Chester (who would become Hops). A friend actually came up with the names while were sitting out back watching the two of them cavort in the backyard. Yes, I'm still a bit sore that she selected "Barley" and "Hops" before I found these great names. I mean, really, how great is Hops for a 3-legged dog?!

Anyway, when "Jack" the Australian Shepherd joined the pack, he just became "Killian" as his coloring matching Killian's Irish Red beer (yes, I know he's not Irish). And, the theme grew from there.

Here's an article I wrote about dog names based on liquor.

Barley, the basset-wanna-be

Barley was my very first failed foster. He was named "Riley" then and came for fostering - he just never went anywhere, but I'm fine with that. I fostered him through a basset rescue organization in the area. I was told by more than one potential adopter that he 'wasn't pretty enough.' That always floored me as, particularly when he was young, he was a quite striking looking fella (well, at least, to me....) Barley may not be a full bred basset, but he's full of love, and he's been a wonderful companion for the last, oh 12 or 13 years now. He's also the only basset I've ever had (and I've had a lot of them) who was fully off lead reliable which makes him my favorite companion when rambling through paths in the woods.

In the picture, he's donning a quite smart sycamore leaf that I found by the river by my cabin in WV. He's also a very patient dog.

Barley is also known as:

1. Barler-a-tor Master Bater (well, he spends a lot of time "grooming")

2. The Barlster

3. Barley-meister

4. Barles

5. Basset head

6. Wanna be

Hops - my leg-challenged dog

Hops came to me from a shelter in Southern Maryland. His original name was Chester, and he was owned by one of the wealthiest families in the area. Unfortunately, poor Hop's master had recently died and the widow was not caring for this sweet dog. He was left outside to fend for himself and was starving so the woman's son took him to a local shelter where he remained for 3 months until I found him.

I found Hops on as I was specifically looking for a dog who wouldn't have a home otherwise. So many people pass up blind, deaf, or otherwise challenged dogs. But, anyway, there was Hops, just waiting for me when I arrived at the shelter. And, he's been with me 12 or 13 years now. He and Barley were my only dogs for quite a while.

I wanted to name Hops Leggo (as in - Where'd your leg go?) but was talked out of it. Regardless, this dog is known by quite a few names:

1. Hippity Hops

2. Hoppy

3. Hopster

4. Sweetie

5. Hoppers

6. Hop-a-long Cassidy

More can be found about this beautiful dog by reading my other lens: Hops, the 3-legged wonder dog.

Killian - my problem child

This dog has given me a run for the money! Killian was my first foray into the world of a thinking dog and, letmetellya, he rocked my world and does every day. I can't imagine life without him!

Kilian came to me as "Jack" and was waiting for me at the local vet's office where he was scheduled to be destroyed in the morning. The vet happened to know of me through my dog fostering and rescue and called me to see if I had space for "just one more." Enter Killian, a very frightened dog who literally crawled into my lap at the vet's office.

Killian has many names, some of which are listed below.

1. Einstein - this one is used when he's done something particularly dumb, like say, eating a bee.

2. Kill Bill - Killian has been known to nip before (well, he is a shepherd) - I'm not sure the guy's name was Bill but this moniker stuck.

3. Kiliie

4. Killian, dammit! ("Dammit" is his middle name)

5. Boy dog

6. Killster

More can be found about Killian on my lens How to calm down an energetic dog such as an Australian Shepherd.

Some of Killian's favorite dog things

Some people may say that my dogs are spoiled, but I'm of the belief that all dogs should be. Killian is the smartest of the crew so I have a handful keeping a bit ahead of him. The below items are some of the best things in his very loved life.

Margarita - My island girl

Margarita (nee "Mya") came to me from a rescue that only brings a few dogs from St. Croix into the US a year. I was lucky enough to be picked to be loved by this darling little dog. She's quite shy with strangers but I attribute that to her background as a stray on the island. She's also very leery of crows - I imagine she completed with birds for food on the seashore.

Rita recently had eye surgery to remove her lens which had luxated (it had flipped to the front). She was stuck in an Elizabethan collar for over a month. Here's a good article I wrote about how to help a dog wear an Elizabethan collar..

Margarita's other dog names are:

1. Rita

2. Rita Rita Pita

3. Golden girlie

4. Goldie (this one can cause some confusion as Goldie is one of my nicknames for my Mom, too)

5. Miss Rita

6. Rita Roo

7. Rita Roo-bert

8. Rita Mosquita

More can be found about this adorable dog in my lens Introducing Margarita - my golden girl from the Caribbean.

Rita loves these dog toys...

My little Rita is quite the hoarder and will stuff her chair with all types of 'babies.' The below dog toys can always be found behind a cushion or in her paws.

Gizmo - my littlest dog

I was minding my own business sipping a cool cocktail one day at an outdoor bar when Gizmo went by on a leash. She was being shown at an adoption show at the local Petco. As she went by, we locked eyes and she wouldn't look away. Shoot. We brought her home that day. She's a total joy and I'm honored to share my life (and bed) with this darling creature. One of the coolest things about Gizmo is that she is a non-shedding lap dog. Yep, she has hair and not fur. Sahweet!

When we call Gizmo, you might hear these other names:

1. Mo Gizz (as in 'give me some Mo' Gizz!).

2. Bobo - her usual name around the house as Mom couldn't remember Gizmo.

3. Bobetta

4. Girlie girl

5. Gizzards

More can be found about Gizmo in my lens Introducing Gizmo - born to ride.

Matee - my step-dog

This is the only one who wasn't my doing. Matee lived on a boat with John, my boyfriend, and joined my life along side John. Make no bones about it (sorry....), Matee is 100% John's dog (until she has to go to the vet or have medication administered...or have her toenails cut - I get to do all the fun stuff) and can always be found right by his side. On the occasions when he goes to his house in WV or down to his boat, Matee can always be found sitting on my Mom's lap.

Matee is also known as:

1. Pug face (Mom can't always remember her name so this is what she usually blurts out)

2. Push face (a variation on the above)

3. Matilda

4. 'Maters (this one works well as this dog loves tomatoes!

Some of Matee's favorite things

Matee is the only dog I've ever seen without a defined sense of humor - perhaps having humans laugh at her is humiliating or something. My other dogs are all very amusing, but not this girl. She's much more likely to watch the shenanigans and put her nose in the air. Interestingly, she's the only dog I have who will watch a whole show on TV. She also joins in on our video conferences when John is elsewhere.

Matee doesn't play with toys but does love the below snacks.

I know of no one who is owned by a dog who doesn't call him or her by multiple names. Do you?

See results

I promised the dogs they'd each get a bone for every comment left. - Please talk to us (for their sakes - they're starving!)

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    • mariacarbonara profile image


      6 years ago

      Gizmo just seems the perfect name for a little dog

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Great story! I knew i wasn't the olny one whe gave her dog nicknames. Demi (named from where she was rescued in Deming, NM and that her face was half and half colored) is also called Demo, Demolisious, D, and after living in the south too long, Bubba, Bubba Dog or just BD. My ex would also use danmit or shit with her name since being a terrier (terror) she was quite a handful as a youngin :)

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      my dogs names are rigby who goes by riggles, rigs, rigby what are you thinking and sweetie and muffin who goes by muffin the menace, muffinmeister and muffball (instead of fluffball)

    • randomthings lm profile image

      randomthings lm 

      7 years ago

      YAYAYAY I need to respond so they all get a snack! LOVED your story. Loved the cutie that crawled into your lap as you rescued him. OHHHH i almost started to cry. How sweet!!! YAY for you. We adopted our greyhound too. She was the one that TOLD us that she is our dog and we should take her home. If she coulda crawled in my lap, she would have. great story!!!

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      8 years ago from Canada

      Wow you have quite the family there. Lol...and I can imagine that they are just like kids. Thank you for the introduction to the canine part of your clan ;)

    • gottaloveit2 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      I must say thank you for credit on naming Barley and Hopps (yes... with 2 P's - LOL) and my 2 girls have so many nicknames it's beyond laughable. Thanks for sharing!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      feed the poor pups Lori!

    • gottaloveit2 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      @Virginia Allain: Virginia: my next group of dogs will include Lemondrop Martini (a lemon and white basset) and Spot (a pure white dalmation). I love those names too!

    • DreamsBloom profile image


      8 years ago

      My cat had many, many nicknames before she passed away. So I can relate to this.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Love this article as Pablo has various names! He started as Pablo, then evolved into... Pabs, Bubba, Peeb-lo, Rotten (as in spoiled), and most recently Woobie as he is like my blankie or woobie. ;) And sometimes Rorschach because of his coloring.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      8 years ago from Central Florida

      I guess no one uses the old-fashioned name of "Rover" anymore. Names sure can be fun.


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