What’s in a Name?

Passer-by:  “Jesus, that’s a big dog!”

Me:  “Actually, his name is Moses.”

I didn’t really think of the endless entertainment that frequent exchange would provide me when we were considering names for our new Newfoundland puppy back in 2008.

Lucky for me, the Husband and I are on the same page when it comes to people and historical names for pets; we both think they’re pretty awesome.

And I’ve encountered some pretty great human names for dogs.  Howie the Labradinger.  Douglas the Lab.  Larry the Newfoundland.  Maude the Labradoodle.  Walter the Great Pyrenees.  Bruce the Great Dane.  Nigel the Bulldog.  All great names!

For me – and for better or for worse – pet names tend to reflect what I’m reading or interested in at the time.  For instance, in the 9th grade I was mid-way through Michael Crichton’s Airframe when I named our family’s new cat Casey.  I was in University working on a paper on the Allegory of the Cave when I named another cat Plato (a female cat, no less).  After Plato had disappeared for several months (suspected coyote encounter), Husband and I (mostly Husband) took in a stray that our neighbours had been feeding but couldn’t adopt, and decided together on the name Isaac, after Isaac Newton.  And the most recent addition went by “Kitten” for a long time, until it was determined that her namesake could be none other than Jane Austen’s Emma Woodhouse, being the meddling little poop-disturber that she was (and still is to a certain extent).

But coming up with a name for our new puppy involved much more discussion and deliberation than any of the above.  For the weeks before we picked him up he was just “Blue”, going by the breeder’s coloured collars for them.  And we needed to come up not only with a name name, but also a registered name for showing and breeding.  So it had to be good.  And we both had to like it.

Some very good historical names were on the table from the outset.  Isaac wasn’t taken at that time, so both Isaac and Newton were options.  Edison was also a frontrunner at the beginning.  And both Noah and Moses were thrown in for consideration.  But once Moses got thrown into the mix, there was just no getting rid of it.

Now, I can’t actually say if Moses’ namesake is THE Moses: the prophet, male lead of the Book of Exodus, burning bush confidante and recipient of the 10 Commandments.

Charlton Heston as Moses in The Ten Commandments (1956).

Truth be told, the initial idea for the name could also be Moses Maimonides, who I got to know quite well in my final year of University, and still disagree with regarding the Problem of Evil.

Of course, even if it were the latter, to the general public here, ‘Moses’ refers to he who famously divided the Red Sea, despite still being a common male name in other parts of the world.  One person has even been offended by that biblical connection, which was both unexpected and unfortunate.

When it was first suggested, Husband was skeptical on the name.  But then we picked up our puppy and the suitability of the name was undeniable; he was Moses.

Consensus does seem to be that it’s the perfect name for our Newf.  And we, of course, agree.

So now I’m curious – how did you name your pet(s)?