Monday, May 26, 2008

New Traditions in Dog Naming

Spot is out and Max is in. In fact, in a recent survey of the 10 most popular dog names in the nation, names more fit for humans are finding favor over more traditional dog names like Buddy and Buster.

"Over 50 years ago, Spotty was common," says dog owner Eileen Watson of Hallandale Beach, Fla., who has had eight dogs over the past 40 years. "Now, I don't know of any dog that doesn't have a human name."

Top names among male dogs are Max, Buddy and Rocky. For females, Bella, Molly and Lucy head the list. The research was conducted by Veterinary Pet Insurance from the names of insured dogs in its database.

Dogs have long been considered man's best friend, but for many Americans, they mean even more than that.

"It's a reflection of the position that pets hold in a household," says Mary Thurston, an anthropologist in Austin who has studied dog history for more than 25 years. "They are integral members of the family, just like a child."

Naming dogs in the same fashion as children was common even in ancient Rome, she says. The ancient Egyptians often went so far as to bury their dogs in family plots. Today, dog owners are showing a similar kind of care.

With everything from doggie nuptials to dog hotels, dogs are enjoying the perks of being treated, in many respects, like humans.

"It's an interesting contrast that, in a country where there's still child neglect and child abuse, people are spending so much time and effort on dogs," says psychologist and author Eleanora Woloy.

"It speaks to so many people's needs that they want a warm, comforting presence and companion."

People care much more about their animals now, "and that's reflected in the dog's name," Franklin says.

"When you ask people why they named their dog something, you're going to get a whole story behind it."

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