Pet Names, for the Pet


My dogs are old, but my youngest canine is an Australian Shepherd. At 10, he typically acts like he is four.

Although, now that he is on a raw food diet, he’s acting like he’s two again. I’ve contemplated putting him back on kibble purely for that reason, but instead, have decided that maybe he would like to go running with me—to supplement his other exercise activities.

(It took me a while to accept this. I have a minor case of PTSD from the time he tripped me while I was running full speed on asphalt, in a frantic effort to save a goat. My knees still broadcast the evidence in ugly round scars.)

So, the other day, Charles and I ran up on Waterworks Hill together. He easily matched my pace and spent a fair amount of time glancing up at me lovingly, as if this is all he’s ever wanted. I found it endearing and somewhat shocking, since he has a compulsion to always be in the lead where all the potential action occurs.

When we crested the switchbacks behind the relic of the peace sign, I looked down at him, saw those alert and honest eyes looking at me and said, “What’s up Bing-Bing Noodle Brigade?”

Huh? I am notorious for spewing nonsense, but really? This one was even a little out of my realm. Usually, I have an explanation for the words that compose my pet names. For instance, Charles has a formal name: Stubby Gorgonzola. It makes perfect sense—he has a stub of a tail and his coat has all the colors of Gorgonzola cheese. I also call him “Beans” because when he is all wet and his fabulous coat has lost its loft, he looks like a little string bean.

Timber is Pouncy Rosebottom. Ibn is the Click Click Pony, among other things. The cat is Fuzzy Mingus. I know it’s ridiculous. But I know I am not alone.

And what happens when people have kids? You can’t tell me that those little bean pods don’t get pet names from day one. One of my dearest friends calls her daughter “Beans,” so now we have to clarify which “Beans” we are talking about—but we make no beans about it.

What makes us come up with these pet names and the general nonsense that we use as currency for conversation with all things cute? They generally don’t speak our language (yet or ever) and typically we are filled with so much unconditional love for them, we can’t tell them enough. So, it comes out in pet names, I suppose.

I just never thought I’d be willing to go out in public talking like this.

“Oh, there goes the crazy dog lady again—just chattering away—what’s her dog’s name?”


“I thought it was Beans.”

“No, dude, it’s Bing-Bing Noodle—Noodle for short.”

“Why can’t she just call him something like, Charlie? People are always trying to be so original.”

“At least she doesn’t call him Ember, or Forest, or Shiva.”

“I swear there must be five hundred million labs around here named Trapper.”

That’s one thing I love about this town. I am not necessarily judged for using pet names, I am just chastised for my choice of name.


Like this blog? Chances are you’ll like some of Danielle Lattuga’s other blog posts: The Dog Days of Missoula’s Pet Ordinance and Missoula Dogs About Town. Please leave comments below, or check out Danielle’s other posts at the Horse Around, Missoula blog home page.

 Click here to see all of the Dogtown Missoula archives.



Danielle Lattuga is a novice horsewoman, frequently found guilty of confusing hoof beats with heartbeats. She believes that riding and writing are not so different: both part poetry, part sweat. Follow her into Montana’s horse country, and find out if she’s right.