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WOLF: What’s in a (dog’s) name? Naming pets an interesting exercise

Column: Smokey and the Bandit, Aiko, Sam, Dylan Thomas, Oreo, Misty and more
This is ‘Sam’, who said he definitely didn’t know who got into the kitchen garbage can. (Philip Wolf photo)

What’s in a name?

A new canine addition to our household is coming shortly, an occasion which brings up a spirited debate.

What should we name the new puppy? Who gets to choose the name?

Always good fun.

Over the years, pets have always been a staple in our house. And the name has always been an important part of the process.

Sometimes the name is pre-determined. Sometimes the choice is made after a lengthy debate. Sometimes you let the kids choose. Sometimes you change names, mid-course.

Could you list all of your pets in your lifetime? I’ll give it a whirl.

The first pet I remember was a gnarly old cat belonging to my grandparents. It’s actual name was Velvet, but my grandpa called it George. It was always in fights, was nasty to pet because of all the scabs from the kitty scraps, but it used to sit on the chair and watch us play crib, which is how I learned to count by twos as a toddler.

Our first actual pet was a stray calico cat named Dilly. Real name Dylan Thomas, after my mum’s favourite poet, but Dilly was more appropriate for a feisty female feline that lived near two decades and didn’t really like anyone.

We added Patches (white with patches of black) and those two lasted many years together.

Our first dog was a Samoyed named Cody, but I called it Cujo, because the poor thing had a brain issue that made it growl and lash out at everyone.

Then came Misty, my childhood favourite. Another Samoyed, full name something like Burr’s Arctic Mist (plus six other words I can’t remember).

Then another cat named KC (short for Kitty Cat; highly original naming skills) and my sister had a cat named Fatty, which only looked fat because of all of its fur.

The first cat I ever owned on my own was Smokey, a glorious grey beast who fancied himself the George Clooney of the cat world.

But, because my son’s mom and my sister insisted I had to get two cats or Smokey would be bored, we added Bandit (Smokey and the Bandit, get it? More originality), a unique white drifter who once disappeared for six months and was found in another city before returning home.

We added Tommy, a pudgy black kitty who ran up stairs like Pepé Le Pew. Our first dog, probably my favourite pet of all-time, was a Malamute-wolf cross named Aiko, which (I’m told) means beloved son or little loved one.

He was all of those things, except little.

We got him a brother, a 140-pound mushbag of an Anatolian Shepherd we named Sam.

After Aiko passed, we added a black lab dubbed Diesel, who I call Doyle to this day because that’s what the toddler called him because he couldn’t pronounce Diesel.

There’s also been a handful of other cats, some sadly departed, others still with us.

Taco (her colourings look like a mixed-up taco); Oreo (black and white); Junior (he looked just like Bandit; my son called him Jubs); Chevy (full name BMX Chevrolet Corvette Silverado; named by a four-year-old); one kitty with a nickname not fit for print; Wookie; and Link (something to do with the Zelda video game).

Plus a handful of hamsters and fish whose names I’ve erased from memory.

With all those names in mind, I look forward annually to checking out the list of dog names for communities I live in or adjacent two.

For PQB readers, here’s a few tidbits:

In Qualicum Beach (Parksville was unable to come up with their annual list), there are 632 registered pooches.

Abby was the most popular name, with nine (several spelling variations).

The were seven Baileys and Bellas. Nine Daisys and Sophies, six Maggies and a Maggie-May. Nine more Mollys and five Pennys. Six Gingers and three Gizmos.

Some of the most unique names?

A dachshund named Stevie Nicks.

There was a Rumpole and a Snickers and a Pepsi. A Mr. Jiggs, Mojito and Kipling. Halle Berry, Jeep, Gucci and Gandalf.

Biggie and Elvis and Drake forming quite the musical trio.

A Coltrane, an Axel, and Archie and a pair of Cookies. Two Sailors, three Scouts and a Shufkins.

And, most interesting of all this time (to me) five Charlies, the name of our new puppy.

Looking forward to hearing some of your best ‘pet name’ stories as well.

VI Free Daily/PQB News editor Philip Wolf can be reached via email at or on Twitter @philipwolf13.

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Philip Wolf

About the Author: Philip Wolf

I’ve been involved with journalism on Vancouver Island for more than 30 years, beginning as a teenage holiday fill-in at the old Cowichan News Leader.
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