HELLO, my name is…


They reduce stress, make us laugh, chase away loneliness, give us purpose. There’s no doubt that pets enrich our lives—once we decide what to name them, that is.

Take the nonchalant little guy I’m holding in the photo at left. That’s Oliver, my 11-year-old Blue-crowned Conure. Our family got him when he was just a few weeks old, but he remained nameless for several more weeks as we agonized over what to call him. Then one day a neighbor kid blurted out: “He’s green like an olive. Why don’t you name him Oliver?’’ Well, duh.

The funny thing about pet names is that once you’ve settled on one, you can’t imagine it could ever have been anything else. As part of our second annual Pet Issue (starting on page 32), we’ve included photos of the 10 finalists in our Cover Pet contest, and you’ll notice that for some uncanny reason, their names seem to fit them perfectly.

They came by their monikers in many ways. For example, Winter the cat has a white coat and icy blue eyes. Tika the Siberian Husky looked like a little wolf as a pup–his name is short for tikaani, which means “wolf’’ in a native language of central Alaska. Stella was a combo creation from the beer and take-a-guess (“Hey, Stella!’’). Odin the pug and Teddy the Basset-beagle mix, on the other hand, are rescue dogs and already had their names when they were adopted. Their new owners decided it was important not to take away those identities. And anyway, as Teddy’s owner says, “He just looks like a Teddy.’’

Then there’s Bella, our Cover Pet, who bears one of the most popular names for dogs these days because it’s also the heroine’s name in the immensely popular Twilight book and movie series.

But the winning Weimaraner isn’t named after that character, says owner Debbie Mamone.

“In Italian,’’ Mamone explains simply, “bella means ‘beautiful.’ ’’

And that, surely, is the best thing about your animal companion and mine–they’re beautiful. Like us humans, our pets have their less-than-stellar moments, and sometimes we just don’t know what to do with them. But we always return to those welcoming faces and wonder: What would we do without them?



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