I have always been interested in what names were chosen for my dogs as well as the names my friends’ gave their dogs.
With the service puppies, most of the time there was a theme and the puppy raiser could pick a name to match the theme. For example, the last service puppy I raised came from the Famous Past Actors’ theme. Since Myrna Loy was a MT native and also happens to have been a distant relative of mine, I named my puppy Myrna Loy aka Mernie.
As for our own dogs, the name has always been important and for the most part we just let it come to us. Many names may pass through my thoughts but eventually one will ring a bell.
These are the dogs that have been, are part of my life and their names:
1—Ring was the dog we had when I was a little girl. If I remember right, she showed up at the garage where my step-father worked and hung out there, obviously having no place to go. After a few days my step-father brought her home and my parents named her Ring because of her coloring. She was a great kid’s dog, loved to play with us, let us dress her up, perfect. But Ring had one bad habit, raiding the neighbors garbage cans. One night a can was treated with poison and that morning Ring was sick and soon went into convulsions and died. My brother and I were devastated. We asked about getting another dog but my step-father said “no because you took it too hard when Ring died.” I have always questioned that reasoning.
2—My next dog was a collie, which of course was named Lassie. My sister and her family lived in WA and would come to visit. I was a sad, lonely teenager and my sister, bless her heart, convinced my family to get me a dog although they at first held to their decision of “no more dogs”. Lassie loved kids, loved to pull a sled with a kid on it, did lots of neat tricks and gave me a piece of happiness.
3—Then I was off to college and no dogs until I started graduate school in Grand Forks, ND. My room mate who was an entomologist and living at the research station, had a black lab named Nikka. Cannot remember how she came up with that name. We later rented a house together so we could keep Nikka. I finished my Ph.D. and my roommate completed her master’s degree and enrolled at Penn State for her advanced degree. So I kept Nikka and in 1973 Patrick and I were married. We eventually moved to MT taking Nikka with us. Nikka had a natural instinct for hunting and went on trips with us. But I knew nothing about training and she would also chase deer, etc. But we loved her and she lived to the ripe old age of of 16.
4–Sudak, a white malamute, was mostly a family dog despite my dreams of getting more malamutes for sledding. In 1976 we rescued her from a family that kept her in the back yard. Kids would go by on the way to school and torment her and throw rocks at her. She started to get mean and run at the fence barking. So her owners put an ad in the paper for a new home and we took her. Her owners named her Sudak because of their connection to South Dakota. The picture above is of Nikka, Sudak and Pat.
5–Then came BB in 1978. She was named after Bullion Butte in western ND where we often hunted grouse. We saw an ad in the paper about black lab puppies, which I had been talking about. It was December and very cold and the mom and pups were not being very well cared for so we had to take one. We really did not consider her breeding, just wanted to rescue at least one of those puppies. But she loved to hunt ducks and pheasants even though she was not a particularly well trained dog and I still had lots to learn.
6–After BB died we rescued baby Sun Dancer in 1988 from the Helena Humane Society. He was part lab and something else. We hoped he would be a hunter but he never took to it although he liked to go along on the trips. And he was an excellent healer, would be on your left side like velcro all the time. We named him Sun Dancer because of his color, curled tail and personality.
7–Then we were without dogs for awhile and spent a lot of time big game hunting and some time bird hunting. But we (me mostly, just could not be without a dog) started talking dogs again and I had always wanted a German Shorthair Pointer so we started looking for a new bird dog.
One night in 1991 I had a dream that I had a son and his name was Cactus Jack and then he turned into a dog. The next day I saw an ad in the Billings paper for a pick of the litter GSP. I drove down to look at him and brought Cactus Jack (aka CJ) home. He was an incredible hunter, especially for pheasants but also grouse and quail. He loved those old wiley pheasants up at Freezeout Lake that would run. He would chase them and if you could keep up with him you might get a shot when he eventually got them up.
8–With just Jack in our pack, I had come to believe one dog was not great. I do not speak doggess very well and they just need one of there kind to pal around with. We decided on a German Wirehair Pointer as a pal for CJ. We found a great breeder in North Dakota in 1993, drove over and spent a couple of hours with the pups until one picked us. Even though she was a wirehair she was smooth coated. Since she would be hunting with CJ, we named her Cactus Calli, Callipepla being the genus name for quail. She loved pheasants and grouse but really excelled on quail which we hunted in Arizona. They were great pals , hunted well together and we had many great hunting trips with them.9–Since were hunting a lot of waterfowl in addition to upland game, we took CJ and Calli out with us but even with neoprene coats on, their thin coats just were not sufficient and they were cold all the time. I started thinking more about a Chesapeake Bay Retriever, a dog I had always wanted. I had found some local breeders but was not impressed. On one of our hunting trips to ND in 1995, I found an ad in the paper for Chessy pups. We went out to look at them and brought Branta’s Grizzly Bear (aka Griz, Grizzy) home. Our friend Doug named him, thinking Griz would be a good big dog name and we liked it. He was a gentle giant and in the photo below, that is a stuffed goose he is carrying.
Griz would rather swim than walk and he totally loved waterfowl hunting although he did like to chase pheasants too. Cold water never bothered him and we watched him swim through and over ice floes one time to retrieve a snow goose. And one of his last great retrieves was in deep, cold water to retrieve a swan that he had to push and pull through submerged vegetation. He was great in the blind, could sit with me for hours watching for birds.And if you dropped a goose in tall grass or a duck into deep cover he would always find them.
Grizzy developed osteosarcoma in one of his shoulders in 2008. We nursed him until his eyes told us he just could not do it anymore. We buried him near our other dogs and I named our pet cemetery Grizzy’s Garden and fenced it off so we could plant trees and flowering shrubs without deer eating them. It is a peaceful place and I sometimes sit out there and think of all friends who are buried there.
10–Joy joined our pack in 2001 after being released from a service dog program. Her name came from the fact that she was born in December and the litter theme was Holidays. She and I were a registered therapy dog team for several years and she brought joy to many people.When we went on hunting trips she would stay in camp until we were done hunting and then go for walks with us. Finally, we decided to stop doing therapy dog work and Joy had become interested in hunting pheasants. She was not crazy about loud noise and hated the 4th of July but did not mind the sound of a shot gun when we were hunting. She got her first pheasant in December 2008, a few weeks before her 8th birthday.
Joy was also an awesome mentor to all the new pups coming through. She would greet them, “adopt” them, play with them and watch over them. She was very gentle and let them climb on her, chew her ears, etc. She did have rules and boundaries and the pups quickly learned those. But she was a great, joyful assistant service puppy raiser.
When she developed lymphoma in June 2010 and died of complications of the treatment in October 2010, I was overwhelmed with grief, felt like I had lost a sister. My mourning for her still continues but some days are ok and I can remember all the good, happy times with her, what a joy she was to be around. Joy truly lived up to her name in many ways. You can read more about Joy in my post titled “When They Pass.”
11–In 2002 I was looking for a therapy dog companion for Joy. Many people preferred a smaller dog so they could hold it. I started looking around and a friend who worked in a vet’s office told me of a Shih Tzu that was looking for a new home. He had been living with a family for the first 6 years of his life. Then they had a baby which tormented Buddy who started to “fight” back. I went to visit Buddy and asked if I could take him home for the weekend. He was so sweet and Joy and I took him tdoggin’ that weekend; he was a natural. He is in the Kathleen photo above with Joy. There was one lady in a nursing home who preferred little dogs and would always ask other tdoggers if “that little black dog was coming?” I would put him on her lap and he would raise his nose to the sky and give a soft wooooo of happiness. She is the lady in the pink and green sweaters.I do not know why he was named Buddy but he certainly was one. We have never been small dog people but Buddy or Budman as we liked to call him, was an exception and we loved him dearly.
12–In 2004 we rescued Ruger Red Label (aka Ruger), a Vizsla. He was named after one of my shotguns, the Ruger Red Label .20 ga. which I used for upland bird hunting. We had been looking for a Vizsla to be a hunting dog to help Calli in the field and decided to check out the rescues since we wanted to be active in rescue. Ruger was about 4 months old when we got him.
He suffered from malnutrition and months on a small concrete area had nearly flattened his feet to the crippling point. He was also fearful and shy. But he slept quietly in my arms on the way home from UT and quickly endeared us with his loving personality.
Though he had strong hunting instincts he also had much anxiety as the result of his puppyhood. For a few years he just could not hunt; he would go out with us and then the first chance he got, he would head back to the car and stand there shaking until we got to him. But with some gentle and patient attention he now loves to hunt pheasants and has an incredible nose for them. He has to always be the first one back to the car or camp, part of his lingering anxiety.
13–Freezeout Lake is about 2 hours north of us and is a staging area for thousands of snow geese when they move through in the fall and spring. It is a magical place along the Rocky Mountain Front and we spend much time up there hunting in the fall and watching the spring migration.
To pick up where Grizzy left off we got a British yellow lab in August 2008. I think I knew before she was born that her name was going to be Freezeout Lake (aka, Freezy, Freeze). She is a big, strong girl and able carry geese, swans, and ducks easily.
14–I think Sacajawea (aka Saca) is going to be Freezy’s sister. We got Saca on 5 March 2011, just short of her being 8 weeks old. After Joy died I could not even think about another puppy but a few weeks after her death she came to me in a dream and reminded me of the breeders that had hunting golden retrievers. So I contacted them and put down a deposit for a puppy. Over the next few months several names came to me. I mentioned to Pat one night that I was trying to think of Native American women, he said “Sacajawea” and the inner bell went off. Sacajawea translates as “Bird Woman”.
Saca is a fireball and very smart and can mostly hold her own with Freezy who weighs almost 10 times more. She has brought a new energy into our home to help bring light to the darkness of Joy’s death. She shows promise as a great hunter.
You can read more about the many dogs in my life on my website, TurtleBear’s Canines & Collectibles, in the Rest of the Pack, Assistance Dogs, and Memorials sections. There is a link to the website at the top of this page.
I would love to hear what your dog(s) are named and how you came by the names.