Pets

Keep names short and simple

It seems to me that I spend an inordinate amount of my life yelling at my dogs.

Well, not all of them. I never have to yell at Kate or Ted, or even at Jan anymore. But Len and Peg more than make up for the rest of the dogs.

While I'm yelling at Peg, who has decided that she needs to go across the street and check out the neighbors' dogs, or at Len, who is once again sticking his long nose where it doesn't belong, I am glad of one thing.

I'm glad that my dogs have short names.

It's pretty much tradition that border collies are named with short, easy to say names. There's a reason that the working dogs are named Nell or Lad or Moss. When there are 300 sheep heading the wrong way because of something your dog did wrong, it's a heck of a lot easier to yell "Come by, Lad!" than "Come by, Fluffybucket!"

And believe me, when dogs and handlers are first starting to learn how to work sheep, or cattle, the dog tends to tune out his master, and the master tends to raise his voice.

Sometimes, even short names don't really pan out for working dogs. My friend's dog, Ty, had a problem for a while with the "come by" command. A lot of people shorten that command up to just the word "by." Well, Ty thought his handler was saying "Ty" and he would stop and look at her. Once she made sure to use the word "come" with the "by," Ty was right on the mark.

Most of the puppies that have come from our dogs have ended up with short names, like Bree and Todd and Al and Jack. And there's even another Ty, but his owner doesn't do sheep herding, so this Ty doesn't have to learn the difference between "Ty" and "by."

But eventually, if you have enough dogs, you run out of names. Especially short border collie names. I've done a lot of rescue, and my dogs all have been named with one-syllable names. Like Moss and Meg and Peg and Jan and Toss and so on and so on.

Even the dogs that weren't border collies still got named like they were a border collie. Tucker and Carson were two of those, a Labrador retriever and a livestock guardian dog.

But then there was also Dirt Dog (hey, it's only two syllables), and Anakin. The latter got his name from my friend's little boy, who loved "Star Wars." Dirt Dog got her name because she was so darn dirty when I found her, and she was hard to keep clean.

One thing I absolutely refuse to do is to name a dog with the "ee" sound at the end of their name.

I try not to be a "name snob" but I hate names like Jessie and Frankie and Molly and, yes, even Maggie. I have a Maggie right now, and I usually call her Mags. She came with the name Maggie, so I can't really change it; after all, she's already 11 years old.

I think that I hate those "ee" names because so many dogs come to our obedience class with a cutesy name like Daisy or Murphy, and the dogs are anything but cute.

Instead of being a sweet-smelling Daisy, we get a big lug of a dog that pulls her owner all over the park, jumps higher than most folks' heads, and refuses to even acknowledge that there is a person at the end of the leash.

Or that cute little dog with a name like Roxie or Princess Susie that comes to class ready to take on every other dog, despite the fact that the cute little dog only weighs about 5 pounds.

I'm not quite sure why people like to put that "ee" sound at the end of their dog's name. Maybe it makes the pet more like a baby than like an animal. I once had an argument with a person who had a dog named Teddy. When this person heard that my dog's name was Ted, she was just tickled pink.

"Oh, you have a Teddy, just like me," she said. Wrong, I told her, I have a dog named Ted. "Like I said, you have a Teddy, just like me," was the answer.

I told her I had never, ever called my dog Teddy, his name was Ted, and I don't think he would even come to me if I called him Teddy.

I guess I hurt her feelings, but my dog's name is NOT Teddy. It's Ted. It's like the difference between Teddy Bear and Ted Turner. I bet no one calls Ted Turner "Teddy." At least not to his face.

So call me a snob if you wish, but I'm sticking with the one syllable, short names for my dogs. I like Ted's name, and so does he. Well, at least he comes when I call him. That's better than some of those Fluffys and Baileys will do.

Reporter Carol Reiter

can be reached at 209 395-2486 or creiter@mercedsun-star.com.

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