"L-Sqared" is a talented photographer and blogger with two Physics degrees, who also happens to be vision impaired. "L-Squared" lives with her now-retired guide dog, Willow, while waiting for a successor from Guide Dogs of America. (Check out her blog: "Dog's Eye View.")
I've been thinking a lot about a comment "L-Squared" made on my post from Monday, about guide dogs having "human" names. She brings up a valid point, one that us puppy-raisers should keep in mind when we name our puppies.
Here is her comment:
This is actually a really good example of why people shouldn't give dogs (especially future working dogs) common people names. It can be very confusing and distracting for both dog and owner/handler (or other people who share the name). In fact, I know several guide-dogs that ended up being renamed, because it was just too confusing for everyone involved-usually because a friend or family member had the same or a similar name as the dog. A lot of guide-dog programs used to actively discourage raisers from giving their pups common human first names, but apparently (judging by all the puppy-raiser blogs I read) a lot of them don't bother to do so anymore.
When my husband, Andy, and I picked up our second Future Leader Dog puppy from Leader Dogs for the Blind last November, we were asked what name we chose so it could be recorded on our contract. Andy answered, "Mike." (Andy had originally agreed to my raising a puppy for Leader Dogs if HE could name the puppy. He selected "Mike," because, in his words, "It just came to me; it reminds me of a good friend.") This name was dutifully recorded.
As far as I can remember, the only recommendation for naming our puppy was that some trainers prefer using "a two-syllable word with a hard consonant," and to "avoid names that sound like commands." We never gave much thought to potential issues arising from a "human" name.
After hearing FLD Mike's name, someone from Leader Dogs casually remarked to us, "We had a dog name 'Bob' that ended up being issued to a handler named 'Bob,' so we changed the dog's name." I know of at least one other instance that a dog's name was changed, to no ill effect.
I haven't done much research on the drawbacks of changing a dog's name, but it seems that most dogs are adaptable and would soon get used to a new name, especially if the new name comes with a new "owner." Perhaps this is why "human" names are not discouraged.
All of this led to a discussion between Andy and myself today, on our drive home from a few relaxing days in northern Michigan. I had told him about "L-Squared's" comment. We talked about how other puppy raisers have selected names--some chose names with a common "theme," such as names that all start with the same letter, or names from Greek mythology, or from favorite books.
Would you consider not using a human's name for our next puppy? I asked him. Being the kind and sensitive guy that he is, I knew he would consider this request thoughtfully.
"What?! I can name it anything I want!" He blurted out. "Although," he added, with a sidelong wink, "I am open to negotiations."
I won't go into any more detail about the rest of our conversation due to its "x-rated" nature; suffice to say that our next Future Leader dog will most probably not have a "human" name.
A question now, to all of you reading this post:
HOW DID/WILL YOU CHOOSE
YOUR PUPPY'S NAME?
Whether or not you are raising a Future Leader Dog, or just have a pet dog, I am truly interested!