This week we are discussing quirky pets or unusual pet names…don’t get me started on quirky pets! We’d probably better leave that alone, since I have had, and still have, some real off-the-wall characters!
Besides, I have more than enough material on names alone. I have been hoping for this topic for a while.
We knew a family who actually named their pets by their color: Brownie, Blackie, Whitey, Spot; the list went on.
I was disappointed by the lack of they showed but it completely drove a mutual friend bonkers! He named his pets after obscure literary characters and at the time had dogs named Khang and Oblio.
When I met my husband, his family had a little fluffy terrier named “Muffin” and a striped cat named “Tigger”; there is very little mystery as to the inspiration of those names, but we always gave animals unusual names in my side of the family.
When my mother was a young teenager an equally young admirer presented her with a kitten. He was a bit shy about it, so he covered it by saying, “I brought you sunding” [something]. My mother felt that it was appropriate to name the cat “SunDing”.
When she married my father she decided to get a dog. The German Shepard puppy toddled around on stubby legs, and her name became “Toddie”.
Mom was given several pets through the years. Two were parakeets. The first one was named Sammy, but the second one had no name so Mom named it “Phoebe”. All was fine until “Sam” laid an egg and Mom found that she had confused the genders. “Sammy” became “Sammee”, but there wasn’t much she could do with “Phoebe”; that poor guy was saddled with that for life.
When we were kids and moved from an apartment to a house, we got a dog. My sister named for a dog on “77 Sunset Strip”. The dog on the show was a poodle, named “Chou-Chou”. My sister didn’t know French, so she named the dog “Shu-Shu”…never mind that it was a Schnauzer mix and the name never fit, it had a name from a hit show.
One cat was dark and very long-haired. My sister named her for a very hairy young musician of her acquaintance, “C.J.” We could never answer the question of what the initials stood for.
Another long-haired cat we had was a pedigreed Persian that needed a home. His short-time owner, Woody, gave him a very inappropriate name, (which I can’t recall and might not be able to post anyway), so my mother registered the cat with a fancy name. She called him “Khayyám”, but was not allowed to register him with that as a first name, so she called the Iranian embassy, (back when the Shah was in power), and asked for several words. She settled on the word for philosopher, I believe. His full title was “Sha’ar Khayyám of the Wood”, as a nod to the fellow who gave him to her.
When he was a kid, my brother brought a cat home that was so soft, we called him “Softie” at times, but since he seemed to be the leader of the neighborhood cats, my mother named him “Francis Albert”, after Mr. Sinatra, the “Chairman of the Board”.
My brother named another cat “Illya”; we were big “Man From U.N.C.L.E.” fans at the time.
A few years after Shu-Shu went to doggie heaven, I really wanted a dog. A friend of the family’s dog was having unplanned pups, and I got the survivor of twins. The friend’s family called the woman “Tooter”, pronounced in their mother’s South Carolina accent like “Tuddor”, and that was what I named the dog.
When my husband, sons and I moved here to a house with a real yard, the boys , especially the younger one, wanted a dog. He really wanted a Beagle; I did not. The boys were going to a camp with Franciscan Friars and I told him not to pray for a Beagle, but I think he did. We found an abandoned Beagle-mix while they were way…I named her “Martina”, for St.Martin de Porres, who was a miracle worker and friend of animals. The dog was always “Tina”, and I loved her. Everyone thought I was nuts giving her a regular girls’ name.
My niece was going to try to sneak another dog into the family’s house by claiming that friend wanted it, but not knowing this, I offered to take him. My husband soothed it over by naming him after a celebrity on whom my niece had a crush. The dog went through life as “Marcus, or “Mark”, and whenever I said his name, everyone laughed.
Some people can’t handle people names on pets. We had a cat named “Catherine” and one named “Aloysius”…that one particularly got to folks!
We had a feral family of cats that came in and out of our yard. At the time, we had just watched “Dances With Wolves” with our sons. One cat seemed bolder than the others and the boys named him ”Wind-In-His-Fur”[Hair]; he became “Windy”. One was the image of their mother with four white feet, so that one became “Four Socks”. (“Two Socks” was the wolf). The last sweet little kitten they wanted to name “Tatonka”, (Lakota for ‘buffalo’), but I squelched that. “Leutentant”, as the Indians called the soldier, became that one’s name… then we found that “Louie” was actually a “Louise”. Their mother, when we caught her, became Katie/Kate, since the neighbors called her “Kitty”, but her “Indian name” was befittingly, “Stands With A Hiss” [Fist; I hope you know the movie.]
Our first cat was actually my aunt’s, (we unwittingly steal pets from each other). My mother’s sister had bought her own German Shepherd,* a beautiful, lovely dog. She got a calico kitten and the dog adored it…too much. He’d carry her around in his mouth and wash her until she was soaked. My aunt would find her hiding anywhere the dog couldn’t reach and so we took her “until she got bigger”… we never parted with “Puccini”. This was the aunt who had the Italian-American radio show and fancied herself a patroness of the arts; she went on to name her pets accordingly.
[*“Adolph Von Beethoven” was 18 months old and already a registered pedigreed German Shepherd when my aunt bought him…my mother said that the name was too much and called him “Dolphie”.. and it stuck.]
“Mozart” was my aunt’s first Siamese, who was followed by another of his breed, “Voltaire”.
“Toscanini” was an all-white cat of hers. Those cats were enormous. Her husband, a very funny man, would say “They are as light as a fender”, and that wasn’t the end of his teasing; they were “Moats”, “Volts” and “Toast”.
When my aunt’s neighbor acquired a beautiful German Shepherd purely to sell puppies, my aunt was rightfully concerned. The dog wasn’t cared for as she should have been and the last puppy would not sell. There was something quite wrong with it. It was disproportionately large, had floppy ears and it wasn’t bright. My aunt paid full price for her and used the name “Puccini” again, which my uncle changed to “Poopie”.
Her mother, “Duchess”, was purchased by my aunt for an astronomical fee when the people realized that she wasn’t the cash cow they had hoped for.(Raising puppies involved work…like cleaning up.)Believe it or not, my aunt was upset that she couldn’t glamorize that name.
When the last Shepherd passed on, someone gave her a miniature Schnauzer. Looking for a Germanic and cultured name, she took the opera composer Wagner’s name and spelled it basically as it is pronounced in German: “Vahgnah”…but my uncle called her “Woggie-Doggie”.
My aunt became friends with the legitimate breeders who had sold the dog to her friend and acquired another, whom she named “Ilza”, for the Ilz River. She arrived pregnant and had one puppy whom my aunt named “Ande”, which she thought sounded swanky; it was the name of her breeder friend, “Edna”, spelled backwards.
The cat who then joined that doghouse was named “Gioto” for the classic Italian artist/sculptor…and my uncle called him “Tojo”.
My aunt wanted to kill him.
But to this day I am so amused that with all her tries to keep a certain ‘standard’ with her pets’ names, one Schnauzer that joined the crew was already named and to my aunt’s chagrin, it was “Sally Sue”.
Right now we have four cats. “Bella” started out named “Belle” by the young man who rescued her as a kitten. “Mercy” is the only cat ever named by my husband. “More mercy is needed in this world”, he said and as cantankerous as the cat started out, she has responded to the mercy shown to her.
“Pickles” here was named “Mr. Pickles” by my son; I have no idea why, but his son named our big marmalade tabby after his favorite food, “Oranges”. ( Let that be a warning: Never let a hungry 5-year-old name a cat.)
But interesting names have not been limited to dogs and cats. I told The Hound last week of acquiring a snake twenty years ago which I could not bring myself to touch, but I went the opposite of how I felt and named him “Snookums”.
There have been assorted rodents in the family, but the ones with the most interesting names were a couple of guinea pigs my nieces picked up at the height of a show’s popularity: “Laverne and Shirley.”
I’ve taken a lot of your time, but I want to share the tale of our finches.
Our canary, “Francis”, (for St. Francis), had died. When a baby with health problems was born to family friends, they asked if we wanted their finches. They were male Zebra Finches but their little girl had named them “Tammy” and “Finchie”. I could not deal with those. I had been a bookkeeper and they sounded to me like old-fashioned adding machines when they sang, so I named them for famous accountant brothers, “Henry” and “Richard”: H&R Block. My husband used to tell people they were “Blockbirds”. If you watch the video below for just 30 seconds, (until the one sings on the lower perch), you’ll get an idea of what I heard several times a day:
Henry escaped in a house with four cats and I only found a few of his feathers. Richard seemed lonely. The local pet shop only had another type of finch, a Spice Bird. The boys and I had just read about Marco Polo, so “Marco” he became. When Richard died, (these birds don’t have longevity), our local shop had closed, so we had to travel to get a finch, this time, an all-white female. They are originally from Down Under, so I named her “Sheila”, a slang-name in Australia for any girl or woman. When Marco flew to Heaven, Sheila lived for years as a widow, happily pumping out useless eggs… too bad she wasn’t a chicken.
What do you think of my family’s crazy ideas for pet names?