Barking Blondes: What’s in a name?
The handsome entrepreneur, Ivan Massow, was a guest on our show this week. He has named his seven year old jack russell ‘TAXI!’, can you imagine the chaos this must cause when his dog is let off the lead in London? Apparently Taxi is, at the moment, being mated and it’s hoped his new wife will be called ‘Help’.
Naming your dog is as tricky as naming a child; except with more freedom. We both have pedigree breeds and it’s a requisite with The Kennel Club that the kennel stud is used as an affix. This often results in a truly ludicrous title, hopefully dropped the moment you get the mutt home. Our very snooty miniature bull terrier, Molly, has the pedigree name of Justeph Silver Mistress in Miniscape. Imagine calling that out in Brockwell Park!
Matilda, our British bulldog is referred to on her birth certificate as Tojocos Lemontwist (AJ4) .The daughter of Kingrock Chalky White. Blimey.
There was a time when dogs had dogs’ names. You knew where you stood with a Fido or a Butch. However, they belong back in the days of Dennis The Menace and Gnasher. Today, with the popularity of Furkids (dogs seen as surrogate children), we are giving our pet, retro human labels.
If you spend more than a few minutes in the local vet’s waiting room you will hear the trends. And spot the disappointment on the owners face when their dog’s name is duplicated. At the moment it’s all Daisy, Lucy, and unfortunately, Molly. But the latter is ten, and we swear when she was born there were no other four legged Molly’s.
How annoying is it that there is a West End musical called Matilda? At least once a day we are asked “Did you name her after the Roald Dahl character?” No we named her after a great aunt twice removed. She is long enough deceased not to be offended.
Dogs are trained from a very early age to recall. It’s advisable to use a name with two syllables. It’s easier to call. MOLL…EE! Apparently, it’s the vowel sounds in their name that they become familiar with. How confusing it must be therefore, to be called by another name.
But canine actors have to learn to deal with this. It’s interesting to watch the credits of the TV series Frasier and note that the jack russell ‘Eddie’ is played by Moose. Or in Elvis’ (a huge dog lover) film, Live A Little, Love A Little, his own great dane, Brutus, played the role of Albert. The confusion on the sets must have been a challenge for humans and pooches alike!
British politicians now realise that dogs are great vote winners. What a shame they don’t take more risks when naming them. What fun could be had in the obligatory photo call with Genghis or Attila seated alongside. However, it takes an American president to find the most appropriate name for his mutt. Clinton, described by Hillary as ‘a difficult dog to keep on the porch” during the Lewinsky episode, had his loyal Labrador by his side. Buddy. And boy, did he need one.
Most pet owners, safe in the knowledge their pet’s name is never going to be roll called in a classroom, can become very bold. But here is a word of warning: a caller to our radio show is employed by a pet insurance company. She told us of one claimant , who, when asked for the dogs name over the phone, replied sheepishly, ”I’ll spell it for you: C.L.I.T.O.R.I.S.” Let’s hope neither she, nor the dog, ever enter Britain’s Got Talent!
Barking at the Moon, Thursdays, 10pm/midnight, BBC London, 94.9fm
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