By Lori Amato
The owner of a beautiful red brindle greyhound sticks her head out the back door and yells, “Already BenThere, come.” The cute little greyhound comes running to her mama. “Here is your cookie, Already. Go back and play.” Already BenThere bounces back out into the yard to play some more with her friend, PB Black Tauren. Egad, what is going on here? The “what” that is going on here is your greyhound’s racing name.
The rules for naming a racing greyhound according to the National Greyhound Association are as follows:
“All names may not contain any more than 16 letters including spaces. The name must be tasteful. The use of the word “The, Jr., Senior, 1, 2 is not allowed. It may not mislead the public as to the pup’s breeding or be similar to any dog previously registered in the past 10 years who was not used for breeding purposes. The name must be approved by the Keeper of the Studbook.”
Therein lies the problem. With so many greyhounds being registered in “each calendar year” selecting a unique name can be quite difficult. One could debate, however, the “tastefulness” of racing names that have come with the dogs at our adoption kennel during the past 8 years. Head Knocker, Corn Beef, Bad Credit Kid, Char Pei Diem, Marshmallow Onie, Deaf I Am Not, Ping Odd Pong, Betsy Boo Boo, and Zia Vang, among them.
Back to the greyhound at the beginning of this story, Already BenThere. She was two years old when I adopted her, a very pretty red brindle with a white chest, four white feet and just a tad of an overbite. I certainly could not call her Ben or Already. In her foster home she was called “Everly” after the foster family’s love of the Everly brothers. This name did not seem to suit her, either. So the hunt was on.
Where do names come from? So long as there have been humans walking upon this earth the custom of “naming” has been around. In the book of “Genesis” in the Bible, God gave Adam the daunting task of naming all the creatures that walked the Earth…”And Adam gave names to all the cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field”…Genesis 2:20. Adam not only named the “creatures” but also each creature recognized his or her name, and came when called. Many cultures have had different “criterion” for bestowing names. The Native Americans named their children after natural phenomenon. Thus names like “White Bear”, “Dark Storm Cloud” were given. Sometimes a physical characteristic like “Smiling Eyes” could be bestowed as well. The Romans took naming a step further and institutionalized names to cover all members of a particular clan. The Pilgrims selected names from the Old Testament like Ruth or Samuel. These Old Testament names have meanings as well. The name “Ruth” comes from the Hebrew “compassionate, beautiful.” The name “Samuel” or the Hebrew, “Shemuel” means “Heard of God.” They would also take names from Biblical virtues like “Mercy & Faith.”
America, “The Melting Pot,” has had many influences in the custom of first names. Each new influx of immigrants brought with them their names and their naming customs. As a result, America is probably the greatest storehouse of names of any nation in the world. This great diversity can cause a dilemma. Hence, expectant parents go through months of “What Shall We Name the Baby?” In this case, the dilemma can be extended to “What Shall We Name the Dog?”
The greyhound that shares your life will carry his name till the time he goes over the Rainbow Bridge. You have a little more leeway than naming children, where you must give thought to peer’s acceptance, the blending of first and last names and how the initials may appear. It is still no less a daunting task.
Here are some general tips in naming your greyhound.
The inspiration that we use to name our dogs can be many. People sometimes choose popular dog names. The top ten names for male dogs in the United States in 1998 were: Max, Jake, Buddy, Bailey, Sam, Rocky, Buster, Casey, Cody, and Duke. The top ten names for girls in 1998 were: Maggie, Molly, Lady, Sadie, Lucy, Daisy, Ginger, Abby, Sasha, and Sandy.
People will sometimes choose their new dog’s names before they even have their dog. They may use a variety of other inspirations as well. They may well wait a few days after their new greyhound has taken up residence. Studying their dog’s behaviors and personality will give them the necessary clues. Other people will use the inspiration of the color of their dogs’ coat or body appearance. A lovely white greyhound may sport the name of Blitz. Other inspirations will come from books, foreign names or words, mythology, New Age, popular characters in media, aristocracy, popular human names, whimsical names etc.
In our household Tauri was named for the Zodiac sign under which he as born. The red brindle greyhound that is mentioned above, “AlreadyBenThere”, carries the name “Feather” now. She truly resembles a quail feather. Magi, (our Australian Shepherd) received his name before his birth. The serendipitous/synchronistic story surrounding his mere conception inspired this author to feel as if it was “Christmas Magic” in March.
Resources to help you in the daunting task of naming your dog
When Rover Just Won’t Do, Scalisi, Danny & Moses, Libby, Howell Book House,
New York, NY 1993
Name Your Baby, Rule, Laerina, Bantam Books, 1986