What's In A Dog's Name?
The burning question on the minds of the entire world was answered last week when First Lady Michelle Obama announced that her family is looking to rescue a Portuguese water dog that is "old enough" and a "match" for the family dynamics, due to arrive and reside at the White House this April. According to Mrs. Obama, the only thing still up in the air is the presidential pooch's name.
What's in a name anyway? What does a name really mean? Merriam Webster states that a name is: "a word or phrase that constitutes the distinctive designation of a person or thing". Well, since the "distinct designation" of this fortunate dog is going to be in the global spotlight, maybe the classic canine name "Spot" would work. Probably won't happen though since the former president Bush's English Springer Spaniel donned that name.
The number one dog name nationally for many years in a row has been Lucky. Ten years ago when I named my little rescued Maltese Lucky, picking a popular name was not on my mind. I felt so lucky to have rescued the cutest little dog that to date has completely changed my life. Now Lucky Diamond certainly does not take credit for the popularity of her name, although her Today Show and CBS Greatest American dog primetime show (where she sat on the judges panel for hours, very well-behaved) appearances certainly makes a pet parent like me proud (and many pet parents very jealous). Everyone else should be so lucky to have such a charismatic and patient dog like I do.
That Obama is being very bipartisan and politically correct in their choice of the First Dog will put the breeder and the rescue community both at ease - a purebred rescue. Smart move and that's why we love the Obama family living in the White House and why they reign popular across the nation with dog lovers.
So let's take a step back into history with some of our favorite past presidents and look at the creative (and not so creative) names they bestowed on their pets. Remember our number one cherry pie loving president George Washington, he named his Foxhounds: Mopsey, Taster, Cloe, Tipler, Forester, Captain, Lady Rover, Vulcan (B.S. - Before Star Trek) Sweet Lips, and Searcher. Sure President Obama admires his former predecessor Abraham Lincoln, whose two dog's breeds are unknown, but Lincoln crowned one Jip, and the other helped to coin (not Penny, the one cent) the canine name favorite: Fido. Calvin Coolidge obviously had an imagination, huge heart and sense of humor, he named his 11 dogs: Peter Pan, a terrier; Paul Pry, an Airedale; Rob Roy, a white Collie; Clamity Jane, a Shetland Sheepdog; Tiny Tim (holiday spirit), and Blackberry, both Chow Chows; Ruby Rough, a Collie; Boston Beans (one can only imagine why), a Bulldog; King Kole (not Kong), breed unknown; Bessie, a Collie; and Palo Alto, a bird dog. And the list goes on and on, visit: www.dogtime.com/presidential-dog-names, for a more extensive list of presidential pooch monikers.
In honor of the new soon-to-be adopted presidential purebred and the national wave of purebred adoptions sure to follow from coast to coast, I thought I would be kind enough to provide you with pointers (not the breed) on how to adopt a purebred.
1) A lot of people think they need to go to a breeder and spend lots of money if they want a certain breed, but that's not at all true! There are many wonderful rescue groups that cater to specific breeds, where you can adopt the purebred your heart is set on. Breed-specific rescue groups have the advantage of extensive knowledge and experience with their particular breed. They are a great source of information, especially if you're still searching, about their breed and of course about dogs in general.
2) You can start your search in the phone book or online - just look for "rescue + "name of breed." You can also call the Human Society - they're always willing to help! Whatever breed you're looking for, someone, somewhere has likely formed a rescue society. If you don't immediately find what you're looking for, a rescue for a similar breed can almost always point you in the right direction. Even if they don't have that particular breed, chances are they know who does. Start asking around!
3) When you do find a breed rescue group, get as much info as you can. How do they care for animals? How do they decide who to put up for adoption? How do they decide who can adopt? What is the process for the actual adoption? What services are available post-adoption?
4) Once you actually go meet an animal, find out as much as you can about its history. Where was it rescued from? Has it ever been mistreated? Are there behavioral or medical problems to consider? Has it been spayed or neutered? How is it with other animals? Kids and crowds? Talk to the people at the shelter about the breed and the specific dog, and make absolutely sure that this is the dog for you.
5) Be prepared with the necessary food and accessories, and medical history for your first vet visit. If you have small children, prepare them for interacting with the animal. Be ready to establish rules and schedules for your new family member as you all adjust. Take time to play and bond, and most of all have fun!
Next time you are out with friends, around the water cooler at work, or dinner table at home, start a new conversation/debate on what the new presidential Portuguese water dog should be named and why. And I guarantee you'll certainly find out - what's in a dog's name? For more information on rescue pets visit: www.Petsmart.com, or if you want to see what some of your favorite celebrities or politicians top dog names are visit: www.animalfair.com.
Follow Wendy Diamond on Twitter: www.twitter.com/wendydiamond