One of the most fun things to do at a dog show is to buy a catalog and look at the names of the dogs. Or check out people’s websites and really get an insight into how they view themselves, their dogs and the world by reading the names of their dogs. Nothing is more thought out with some people than their dog’s name. You have to pick just the right combination of words to label the dog a winner or reflect some other hobby or passion in your life. It’s all so personal.
When you breed a litter, you are often faced with eight little puppies, each needing a registered name. The AKC states that owners have the right to name their own dogs, but most breeders don’t trust their puppy people to get the “right” name so they help them along. Under this philosophy, the new owners are allowed to pick the call name, like Fluffy or Bobby, but the breeder will choose the registered name. Most breeders are insistent that their kennel name be included either on the front or back of the name. This is akin to naming your baby Johnny with no last name. How will people know who’s his daddy when he wins the Nobel Prize. Same with dogs. When they flash your dog’s name on the big screen at Westminster and announce in that deeply resonant voice: this is Kerry Blue Terrier number 5, the whole world better see your kennel name front and center.
My parents sold a pet dog to some very nice people who promised to register the puppy. They thought long and hard for a fancy sounding “formal” name and came up with: Aejos Blue Beauty. Aejos was neither blue nor a beauty. He came back to us at age 12, when his owner had to go into assisted living, and lived with us until his death at age 15. My parents were dismayed they left the “Casey” out of his name, but seeing how he turned out maybe it was for the better.
I thought it would be fun to look at some of these names and their origins. I’m dividing them into conformation and performance dogs.
Conformation breeders often breed many litters in their lifetime in dogs. After a few litters, it’s hard to remember which dog is from which litter, or from which sire and dam, without consulting your own pedigrees and records. To facilitate this, many breeders choose a theme for a given litter. This can be something simple, such as a combination of the sire and dam’s names, favorite songs by Britney Spears, movies or sports. If there were points for creativity some breeders would be huge winners. There was a litter of Bedlingtons all named for cities in France. Vendome of Celtic Odessey, Vincennes of Celtic Odessey, Versailles of Celtic Odessey were three who did some winning. Celtic Odessey was the kennel name and of course the breeders were in France. Nothing wrong with a little nationalism. Another Bedlington breeder named her litter after teas. Her kennel name is Ness so these of course were referred to as the Ness Tea dogs: Ch. Ness Earl Grey, Ch. Ness Darjeeling, Ch. Ness English Tea. In the last few years a Kerry Blue Kennel in Tennessee, Topgun, has produced some lovely dogs that consistently win at our National Specialty. Some of their names include: Ch. Topgun Raging To The Danger Zone, Ch. Topgun Blue Jealous Rage, and Ch. Topgun Ragin’ Ring of Blueaire. The later is a very typey dog that has sired some promising puppies. But the names! So angry. When we met the breeder the names really didn’t match her sweet nature. Later she told us she let her husband name some dogs as a way to get him involved.
The reasons behind the names are sometimes even more strange. Ch. Sea Mist Poo Poo Chanel, a Kerry bitch, was named for a client in the salon the owner ran. It was bad enough for the dog, but what about the woman. The most famous Kerry in recent times was, of course, Ch. Torum’s Scarf Michael, whose name came from a poem nobody was ever able to find. Our young male’s name is Ch. Tontine’s Chance Redemption. Redemption for what, we are often asked.
Some breeders like clever double meaning names. Ch. Kerigolf’s Christmas Knight. A recent big winning Scotty’s registered name was Ch. Cuhaven Call My Vet and a long ago Kerry Blue was Ch. $22.50 of Delwin. Both these allude to costly and near tragic mishaps in the dogs’ lives. In the case of the Kerry, $22.50 was the cost in the 40’s the breeder paid to treat his dog.
A look at last year’s Westminster catalog proves that even the top dogs aren’t immune to strange names. Don’t fear the American Staffordshire Terrier (Pit Bull) when it has the name Ch. Absolute Sugar N Spice Yes I’m Nice. I’m not sure I believe it, but it’s somewhat comforting. A Democrat lurks in the Miniature Pincher ring with Ch. Sanderlin Fireside Chat and people say little dogs think they’re big dogs so why not give your toy dog a little help: Ch. Frolicn Handsome Hercules, an Affenpincher, surely has a Napoleonic complex. We can no longer smoke at dog shows but no matter. After a hard fought win you can relax in your set up with a dog named after your favorite stogie: Ch. Yup’s Cohiba Esplendido, a Havenese. Pair this with your friend’s Schipperke, Ch. Free Sloe Gin Fizz, and your set up will be really jumping.
Finally in the conformation category, you get people who take the origin of their breed to extremes. Just because your dog originated in Tibet do you have to give it a name full of unpronounceable words? Ch. Lafahhs Lokapala Draki, a Tibetan Mastiff, or Ch. Chaumette Mes Yeux Vigilants, the Beauceron, a French breed. Say what? Or possibly the worst: Ch.Szilvahelyi A Szerelem Rabja, the Komondor, a large working breed with Hungarian origins and a mop-like, corded coat, or Black Russian Terrier, Ch. S Tioplyh Zvezd Lizavete Prokaznitsa. Somebody needs to buy a vowel or a pocket translator.
The world of performance events for dogs has exploded in the past ten years. Dogs of dubious origins can compete in Agility, Obedience and Rally courtesy of an ILP/PAL number. These numbers are given to dogs that look like an accepted breed. Sometimes the dogs are rescues from puppy mills or the pound or sometimes the breeder never registered the litter or the parents, but the dogs are undeniably purebred. Sometime the guidelines for registering these dogs seems more flexible than others. One year at the Eukanuba, our handler’s husband and I rushed ringside to see the American Foxhound running in agility. We searched the rings and never saw one. We did see a suspiciously large beagle. Anyway, the names of these dogs are sometime markedly more pedestrian than their conformation cousins.
In the Novice B Obedience class at a recent show, we saw an Australian Shepherd, Pandamonium. Her parents were Jackson and Abbygail Fudge. Redtop Brodie, a Border Collie, competed against an English Cocker named for somebody’s summer vacation to a popular theme park: Analainn’s Splash Mountain. Some people view themselves as warriors in and out of the ring. they name their dogs to reflect they aren’t one of those pampered sissies who parade around the conformation ring. An Irish Setter is saddled with the moniker, Willowfenn’s Special Forces. If there were special forces for dogs, no Irish Setter would be interested in joining. Geeks often turn up in the Performance ring. I think it’s the lack of fancy dress and the general informality of it that attracts them. One named his Sheltie, Trinity One Point O. I wonder if the second one, maybe a son or daughter, will be Trinity Two Point O.
A final few words about these athletes of the canine world. Many fine performers have risen to glory from humble beginnings. Consider Bosco, Baby Cheyenne Sierra, Worth the Wait and Jazz. They all come from that famous, and prolific, kennel: Unknown, and are sired by Unknown out of Unknown with breeder Unknown. This kennel produces untold numbers of dogs, sold to owners who proudly put them through their paces every weekend. In dog events you don’t have to have blue blood to be a star, but to many, an impressive name helps.