Friday, 30 May 2014

Whats In a Puppy Name

My musings on the nature of how puppy boys are named

I thought I would put to paper (or more accurately, screen) some thoughts that have been swirling about my head for a while, and lately became fuel for a conversation with a friend. The main topic of conversation was the nature of puppy names.
Now for full disclosure, I do not identify as a pup as many people I know do. it has caused me some consideration as I have a lot of puppy tendencies, when the people around me are pups I feel I can let out a side of myself that clicks with them. The tactile, huggy, happy, in-the-moment part of my self blooms. I have even started barking back with the pups I know. I have joked with them that they are slowly trying to assimilate me into puppy-hood like a playful, kinky borg collective. But I fundamentally do not feel that puppy hood as a whole fits me. I do not have that inert ‘puppyness’ I see in others. But one thing about puppy culture fascinates me; the names.
Names in general fascinate me, I grew up fed on fantasy novels and Wiccan books that all agreed names have special meaning. I have noticed that people tend to create an online name that they use all over the internet, a name they chose for themselves rather than their birth name. So puppy names fascinate me for the fact that puppies never decide their own names.
This seems alien to me. The notion that you need another person to name you seems wrong to me, it is a concept that does not sit right in my brain. I understand that real dogs don’t have the language or mental setup for names, so they are always given them by owners, and so it makes sense that a puppy boy’s name would be given by their trainer/owner/master/generic-dom-term-here. But there is a part of me that can’t wrap my brain around such an important part of your personal identity being dependant on other people and because of that, often being transient.
I have noted the widespread use of mythological references in puppy names. My NSFW twitter feed is filled with names from the Norse and Greek pantheon. This I wonder if it is because of the symbolic nature of mythological characters. The Norse and Greek myths were often anthropomorphic personifications that had very singular character traits; Pride, wisdom, hubris, trickery, kindness, compassion etc. so I can see why they would be popular puppy names being clear shorthand for what a pups personality may be like. In this respect I suspect Puppy names are in their nature are more descriptors than identifiers. As with real dogs, they tend to have names that are more descripted of their doggy nature. How many highly energetic, but low on attention dogs have we all met  called something like ‘Sparky’ or the like.
On my limited experience with my own full puppy play from a play night with some friends  I was given the full mits and muzzle treatment and was given the name Pup Scamp for the night. Which I found fit me well in its implications of acting cute but naughty, but I can’t say I felt any massive connection to it. It’s not like my Birth name or my ‘internet name’ of mouse that touches to a deep part of me.
Many puppies change their name with a new owner. Feeling the old one no longer fits. Is this because with each person that enters and leaves our lives we are changed, and so the name only fits a version of the puppies self that has passed? Or is the name works as a symbol of their relationship to another person more than a symbol of their self? It’s a topic I wish to understand more about but again it seems to point to the name being a descriptor rather than an identifier.
I would love to talk with more puppies about this, because it’s something that I am hungry to understand and really fascinated by and a subject that has given me much thought in my wider musings of others, and my own identity.

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