According to DOGWatch, the newsletter from the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, a study of close to 500,000 Veterinary Pet Insurance policies shows pet owners in general tend to prefer people names for their dogs. Currently the most popular dog names are Bella, Bailey, Max, Lucy, Molly, Buddy, Daisy, Maggie, Charlie and Sophie. This is not necessarily true, however, for hunting dog owners.
A few years ago I did some highly unscientific research on dog names. I went through one month’s records of the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association’s test results for Natural Ability and Utility Tests, grouping dogs’ registered names into categories to look for trends. I disregarded the kennel part of each name, and I also skipped tongue-twisting German names, most of which had more than 37 letters per word. My goal was to see where hunting dog owners’ creativity led them.
Max was the most popular human name, but in the people category I discovered a curious, if not notorious, cast of characters such as Outlaw Josey Wales, Orphan Annie, Goliath, Cleopatra, Daisy Duke, Valentino, Buster Brown, DB Cooper, Jesse James, Son of Sam (!) and D’Artagnan. Owners of a more lyrical bent chose names to delight the senses, such as Rhythm of the Tide and Ray of Light. Gun names were big – Citori, Benelli, Browning, Kimber, Ruger and Red Ryder. Important hunt-related designations showed up, too: Reload, Decoy, Scout, Gunner, Hunter, Silver Bullet, Buck Shot and I Can Pointabird.
Good will and positive thoughts sparkled from optimistic names such as Coasting Smoothly, New Beginnings, Revelation, Feeling Groovy, Practically Perfect, Bound ‘n Determined, Symphony of Dreams, Radiance of Paradise (try to live up to that name!), Razzle Dazzle ‘Em and Amazing Grace.
EZ Come EZ Whoa apparently came pre-trained.
Power names appeared in spicy (Hot Pepper, Black Pepper, Sage Pepper), climatological (Stormbuster, Speak Thunder, Rainmaker, Perfect Storm) and downright scary (Blazing Howl). Adult beverages were a source of inspiration, as well. There were dogs named Budweiser, Zinfandel, Absolut, Rolling Rock, Bourbon Sippin Broad, and Jaegermeister.
Before drawing the totally superficial, statistically unconfirmed conclusion that hunters are inspired by notoriety, good vibes, hunting, booze and power, I checked the most recent posting of NAVHDA test scores. Sure enough, Cleopatra and Artemis filled the famous name category; Ricochet, Camouflage and Hunter were on the hunting list; and Epiphany, Ace in the Hole and Luck Be a Lady joined the positive team. Power names included High Explosive, Solar Flair and Shock & Awe, with Grey Goose and Stolichnaya at the bar.
My research is not over. I’m not sure what category Moose in the Woods belongs to. And I’ve started to wonder…what if Bucky Badger met Nothing But Trouble who was actually Born to Boogie, then found Heart’s Afire but wanted No Strings Attached when he discovered the dog Ain’t No Pussycat?
Nancy Anisfield, an outdoor photographer/writer, sporting dog enthusiast and bird hunter, serves on Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s National Board of Directors. She resides in Hinesburg, Vermont.