Help Me Name My Next Dog
If you are a regular reader of this site, you probably remember that I had to put down my thirteen year-old yellow lab named Luckey, this past October. Luckey was a rescue dog from the Nashville Humane Shelter in 2003. She was discovered by Susan, who was still nine years away from becoming my wife, but was a regular volunteer there at the time.
I was not quite a year past putting down my previous yellow lab, Neyland, who was named after General Neyland, the famous Tennessee football coach from the 1920’s through the early fifties. I got Neyland (the dog) in 1986 before kids or even my first marriage. She lived to the ripe old age of sixteen, until I had to put her down in 2002. Although she had lived a great life, was old and her kidneys were failing – it was one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever made. I had never been through anything like that before. I swore my days of owning a dog were over, because I never wanted to go through anything like that again. If you’re not a dog lover and/or owner – you probably don’t understand. If you are one, I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about.
But less than a year later, I knew I wanted another dog and started talking openly about it. Then one Sunday afternoon, Susan called me from the shelter to tell me that they had gotten in the most unbelievable dog and I needed to come see it before it was gone. My son Trey and I hopped in the car to go take a look. Susan did not exaggerate. We saw this dog that had a great personality and was beautiful. We immediately adopted her and took her home that afternoon.
Luckey’s name and unique spelling came from Trey who, for whatever reason, was a big Notre Dame football fan at the time. At the shelter, they have a practice of giving dogs a temporary name. Hers was “Luck of the Irish”. Trey considered that prophetic, given his allegiance to Notre Dame, and wanted us to call her Lucky. Being a typical thirteen year-old, he thought it would be great to add an “e” to her spelling to set her apart – so she became Luckey.
When the time came to put her down this past fall; I thought I would be more prepared, having been through it once before. I wasn’t. It hit me just as hard, if not harder, as when I put Neyland down twelve years earlier. Fortunately, we still have Susan’s dog, Pippa, the little sheltie we got this past March – and yes, Pippa is named for Pippa Mann. Pippa has helped the grieving process a lot. I still miss Luckey, but I’m pretty well over her loss and I’m ready to get another dog of my own. I want a puppy this time, so I plan to wait until after our racing travels in April and May have ended. It wouldn’t be right to get a dog and then disappear for several weekends over a two-month span. So I’ve targeted sometime in June to get my new pup.
Yellow labs have always been my favorite dogs. I think they are beautiful and I like their personalities. Both of my labs have been females. They seem to have a sweeter disposition than most males and they don’t try to get intimate with every inanimate object they come across. Since I abhor change, why would I get a different type dog? Besides, I’ve had great luck with female yellow labs. Between the two of them, they lived a total of twenty-nine years. That’s an average of fourteen and a half years. If I don’t get the dog until June and she makes that average – that puts me close to seventy-one. Suffice it to say that this will probably be my last dog.
But I have a problem and I need your help. I don’t know what to name it. As you can tell, there is usually a sports-related theme behind the naming all of my/our dogs over the last thirty years. I want to keep it that way. I am still a passionate follower of Tennessee Volunteer football. Even though they’ve been terrible the last few years, I’m still an avid fan of the Titans.
But the sport I am most passionate about is the Verizon IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500 in particular. I would really like to name my next dog in honor of someone or something that has to do with either.
I’ve racked my brain trying to come up with something that would be appropriate for a female dog. If it were a male, it would be much easier. Nigel, Wilbur or AJ would all get consideration. But for a female? Probably not. I have another requirement – the name must be two syllables. One is just too short, three is too long. Shaw was considered, but it just sounds too short. As Susan says, it must pass the holler test – meaning it can’t sound stupid when you’re calling its name throughout the neighborhood.
There’s not a ton to choose from among the female drivers. We already have a Pippa. I’ve considered Sarah and that has potential, but it’s too common for a dog and doesn’t really send me. Janet, Milka, Bia (or Ana) weren’t really considered and Danica is just too obvious – plus, I’ve never really been a fan. Simona doesn’t pass the holler test. Katherine is too long and Kat is too short. Besides…a dog named Kat? Please.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be a driver or even a person. I’ve considered Hulman, Offy and Lola; but none of those really grab me either. I kind of like Offy, but I feel like others would mispronounce it and I would spend all my time explaining what it meant. Then I would have to deal with the strange looks I would get when people realized I named my dog after an obsolete racing engine.
The name Unser has been considered, but sounds idiotic when called. As much as I admire Bill Vukovich, I don’t really want to saddle my dog with the name Vuky or Vukovich. With Vuky, too many people would think I was saying Vickie. Lloyd Ruby was always one of my favorites, but naming a dog Ruby sounds like a cheap hooker from the forties. Ward has no ring to it, Sweikert doesn’t roll off the tongue and Parnelli just doesn’t seem right for a dog.
One name that has strong potential is Wheldon. It’s a classy name that has deep ties to IndyCar and the Indianapolis 500 – and it could be used for either gender. I may go with that, but I’m also still looking.
In addition to the two syllable rule, I also have to like or admire the driver. Both rules would therefore eliminate the name Saavedra. Andretti, Bignotti and Tagliani are way too long. I’ve also thought about Helio, but I’m not really sold on that either.
So I’m stuck with three possibilities I could go with – AJ, Offy and Wheldon – but I still feel like the best name hasn’t come to me yet. So, I’m throwing it out to you. What have I missed? I have this nagging feeling that this killer name is out there with obvious ties to IndyCar, but I’ve overlooked it. Can any of you think of anything? I’ve got six months to come up with something, but I’d like to get it settled instead of continuing to run all these names through my head.
So there’s my dilemma. My future dog hasn’t even been born yet, but it’s vital that I settle on a great name. If my past history with dogs holds true, I’m going to be saying this name for a long time – so I want to make sure I like it. So far, I’m not wild about anything I’ve come up with – even the top three. So give it some thought and fire away in the comment section. There is no prize other than some recognition and a thanks if I pick yours. So give it some thought. Pippa needs a playmate.