Naming your new family member

The family member to whom this refers is your new puppy or kitten. When a furry family member first arrives in our lives, many of us spend hours, even days, wondering what name to bestow on our newest companion. I have had the pleasure of sharing space with cats more than with dogs. Sometimes I had names already picked out just because I liked the sound of them; other times, I waited until I figured out the kitty’s personality. I have shared space with cats named Smokey, Maggie, Homer, Leo, TC, Sadie, Sybil, Ginger, Max, Molly and Rosalie.

Like new-baby names, pet names have trends, which tend to derive from popular movies, TV shows, books, songs and celebrities. Other times, names will just catch on as they do for human babies; for example, in one particular age group, there are many women named “Jennifer” and men named “Jason” (

According to Kristen Seymour, who mined’s data of 1.26 million puppies born in 2012, the 10 most popular dog names are these (male and female): Max and Bella, Buddy and Daisy, Charlie and Lucy, Rocky and Molly, Cooper and Lola, Bear and Sophie, Bentley and Sadie, Duke and Chloe, Jack and Coco, and Toby and Maggie.

Because a trend naturally tends to drift away, according to Seymour, the following top-10 canine monikers (male and female) are coming into play: Dexter and Luna, Thor and Layla, Gunner and Piper, Bentley and Nala, Jax and Stella, Ace and Willow, Leo and Maya, King and Athena, Simba and Charlie and Milo and Ella.

What about our feline friends? According to Seymour’s mining of’s data of 643,000 kittens born in 2012, the 10 most popular male and female names are Max and Bella, Oliver and Kitty, Tiger and Lucy, Simba and Chloe, Charlie and Luna, Milo and Sophie, Smokey and Lily, Jack and Daisy, Leo and Lilly (just a different spelling of No. 7’s name) and Kitty (also No. 2’s female name) and Callie.

You’ve probably guessed that cat names trend away as well, so here’s that list of the upcoming top-10 male and female names: Dexter and Penny, Loki and Izzy, Thor and Stella, Cooper and Luna, Zeus and Willow, Ziggy and Katniss, Winston and Ellie, Bentley and Olive, Jackson and Fiona and Sheldon and Charlie (

If you like being on the cutting edge of a trend, you now have the lists of current and upcoming names. If you’re like me and mostly refrain from trendy and popular things, you now know what not to choose when naming your new companion.

In closing, you may wonder how names are chosen for our shelter guests and by whom. Older dogs and cats who have had homes but come to the shelter for what we hope is a temporary stay keep their given names. The shelter staff has the privilege of naming dogs and cats who weren’t given up but found, were rescued from the city facility and were born at the shelter. It should come as no surprise that everyone wants that honor.

In other goings on, the CAPS board and staff will be holding a yard/garage/tag sale on Sept. 20–22, and we need your help. If you have items that are good enough for this fundraiser, please donate them to us; we request that clothing not be included. At this time, we’re arranging for a storage unit to be donated, to hold all items until the sale date.

More information will be given in this column, our website ( and our Facebook page (Churchill Animal Protection Society) as soon as we receive it. You may also call the shelter (775-423-7043) during normal business hours (Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.).

This week’s article was contributed by Betty Duncan, a member of the CAPS board of directors.


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