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Today's column deals with the topic of naming your new dog, which I am NOT advocating that you get for Christmas, BTW, so don't send me hate mail, OK?

Fine. Now that we have that out of the way, let's start.

Basically, you can do one of two things when it comes to naming your new dog. You can give him a pet-type name, such as Spot, or a person-type name, such as Not Spot.

The huge advantage of the pet-type name is that later on when your kids do that thing where you figure out your stripper name by taking your childhood pet's name and combining it with your mother's maiden name, they'll come up with something awesome like Nippy Ipson, which, for the record, is my husband's handle.

That's right. He had a beagle named Nippy. He also had a cocker spaniel named Cookie and a border collie named Fling, all of which are sterling pet-type names … and, it must be said, stripper names, as well.

So there's that.

My family, on the other hand, mostly went in for person-type names, although we often gave boy names to girl pets and girl names to boy pets. But then what would you expect from someone like me who made her youngest brother wear a dress?

The problem with giving your dogs real people-type names is that it can lead to some confusion. For example, our poodle had the same name as my best friend, which always unnerved my best friend whenever my mother shouted at the poodle to get off the couch.

This, however, wasn't as bad as a friend of mine in New York who had a son named Sam and also a golden retriever named Sam. So everyone in that family had to spend a fair amount of time indicating whether they meant Sam the dog as opposed to Sam the boy.

I know.

As it turns out, my husband and I give our pets people-type names and yes, the confusion continues. For instance, when I say the names Edna and Eugene, am I referring to my husband's dead grandparents? Or to that pair of budgies in my office? Because seriously now who doesn't name pet budgies after dead grandparents!

The worst moment happened back when our boys were little. I was on the telephone speaking to someone from our kids' school when my husband discovered that our dog Irene had knocked over the bathroom garbage can (again) and was going through the contents like she was at a rummage sale.

So he yelled at her. "Irene! Irene! Irene!" Which was bad enough, given the fact that the person on the other end of the line could hear everything that was going on. But THEN one of our sons (who had an enormously heightened sense of the dramatic when he was 10 years old) started pleading, "Don't choke her, Daddy! Don't choke her!"

Nice! The person with whom I was speaking no doubt thought my husband was all busy choking someone named Irene.

I immediately got off the phone and gave that boy of ours the hairy eyeball. "Since when did you ever see your dad choke a dog? Since when did you ever see your dad do anything to a dog except take it on long walks and feed it?"

Anyway. Now that I've written this, I can see I am clearly not the best person to give you advice on naming your new dog, after all. So you're on your own, my friend.

Good luck with that!

Ann Cannon can be reached at or

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