Posts Tagged ‘dog names’


Yes, my childhood golden retriever had the worst name ever given to the breed. Her AKC name was “Goldie Elizabeth Westfall.” I preferred the “Elizabeth” part of the name, but I didn’t decide on the breed, and in most of rural West Virginia at the time, the breed was virtually unknown, as rare as a West Siberian laika would be now.

When Anka arrived here, I didn’t care for her much. German shepherds were German shepherds to me, and the best I knew of them was they were surly, barky things that glowered and slobbered when I passed their fenced backyards in the neighborhood.

Her last owner had no real idea what she was. He’d had Labradors before, and they weren’t jumping out of open windows to follow him off to work each morning. Somewhere along the line, she’d picked up the name “Precious,” and when Jenna asked what her name was, he was a little embarrassed to admit her backyard breeder nom de guerre.

She looked vaguely like a Czech German shepherd, so I told Jenna we should call her a Czech/German name, I wanted to make sure she had one that was not also possessed by member of the Trump family, and yes, “Ivanka” and “Anka” are kind of similar.

But not similar enough for me. I have been holding back various Germanic and Slavic names for dogs, none of which would ever fit a golden retriever.

But they certain do fit a German shepherd of Central European blood.

That’s how I see it, at least.

Before Anka appeared on the scene, we had planned to get a desert-bred saluki, and when I found out the sire of this pup was going to be one of those Central Asian saluki things, I thought I might like the dog more.

I proposed the Russian name “Lev,” which means “Lion,” but the breeder, who has studied Hebrew, also pointed out that the name means heart in that language.

But now, I’m backing off the sighthounds a bit to focus on my German shepherd, and my partner is now proposing names for the dog.

We do not have the same naming strategy for dogs. I don’t give a flying fig about flashy AKC names. I like names that fit the dog’s heritage and breed, and as it stands right now, I have an extensive list of Anglo-Saxon and Scottish names for golden retrievers. I also have a list of Germanic and Slavic names for any dogs of Central European ancestry that I might own, and until I found I liked German shepherds, these were going to be used for any continental HPRs I wound up with.

My names are stronger and more guttural. They have sharp edges to them, and they spume like the waves in the North Sea.

None of those names would ever fit a sighthound completely.

And I don’t think my personality and their general temperament fit very well.

I like a dog that I can train. They are meant to think on their feet, while on the run, whereas a German shepherd or a golden retriever’s whole existence is to find way to seek your favor.

I look now at my toned sable working GSD, and I marvel at how I lucked into this animal. She certainly is precious, for she has changed my mind in ways that very few people ever could. I used to avoid the Germans shepherd dog, simply because I had bad associations with poorly bred and poorly kept ones in West Virginia.

Now, I think they are pretty awesome animals.

I look this 64-pound machine of canine flesh that is so perfectly balanced by what I can only call intellect and realize that I was wrong all this time.

The new dog will be something else. They are more primitive and primal than gentlemanly snobs that are show-bred whippets. And it will not be the dog that looks in my eyes with rapt adoration, just asking for me to do something outside.

And no, I don’t have the skills to name a sighthound properly.  I don’t have the flowing names in my war chest of dog names.

But in the end, the dogs don’t care what they are called.

It is only our species that fights over words and language and attaches profound concepts and meaning to what are nothing more than the exquisite chattering of big-brained monkeys.


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