(You can read about our relationship counselling session here.)
So you can imagine my distress when a woman, unknown to us both, judged me for giving my dog a non-human name.
‘Oh, he’s lovely,’ she said, so innocuously, lulling me into thinking all I was in for was inane dog-park small talk. ‘What kind is he?’
Again, entirely predictable. Most people think he’s a poodle of some kind.
‘He’s what’s called a Lagotto,’ I said, ‘He’s an Italian truffle digger.’ Most people look at me like I’m a dickhead when I say that. But she didn’t, and that should have given me a clue about what was to come. She was clearly a dog person, one who knows all about the exotic breeds. I glanced at her pooch — an Afghan hound. Groomed like a Kardashian at Elton John’s post Oscar party.
‘What’s his name?’
‘Tiger,’ I said.
‘What kind of a name is that for such a beautiful boy?’ she asked.
‘Well,’ I stammered, ‘He looked like the dog on the Brady Bunch. It was called Tiger too.’
He may not be stripey but we think Tiger's name is perfect.
‘Well, I guess I’m different,’ said the lady. ‘Our dogs are like our children to us. That’s Victoria over there, and we have Albert at home.’
Victoria looked like she was sniffing a dead lizard, with a view to rolling in it, but I didn’t say anything. I thought about telling her that these days there are children with names like Buster and Rover and Banjo – traditionally thought of as ‘dog names’ but luckily, Tiger chose that moment to poo, so I took my bag and retired graciously from the conversation.
On our podcast, we debate whether dogs are actually like kids. (Post continues after audio.)
On the way home I thought, like you do, about things I could have said to judgey dog lady. My previous dog had a human name: Jonah.
The dog I grew up with was Ben. I adored him and may or may not be a co-incidence our son is also named Ben. We’ve had a Jasper and a Spot.
So I don’t think there’s a malicious dog-ist pattern to my pet naming. But who knows? I might need to get the dog therapist back.
Do your pets have ‘human’ names? Or pet names?
If you're obsessed with dogs, like us, then keep on reading!