Can I Name My Baby After the Dog?

Filed under: Baby Names

I am seven months pregnant with my fourth (and last) boy. The name we are strongly considering is Jasper, however, that was also the much-loved name of our much-loved dog -- my "first baby" -- who has been dead now for over five years. As we live somewhere new, no one knows it was our dog's name, only family and older friends. I love the name, he was a great dog, and I am running out of boy names! Is it OK to call my new son by this name?

-- 4BoyMom

All of you dog lovers out there, see what happens when you give up on canine classics like Spike and Buster?

In an age when so many of our dogs have their own beds and their own wardrobes and special organic doggy diets, we've gone the extra step to make them true members of the family. We've decided to give them people-styled names.

No more Spot and Fido. Today, we're following our people-based fashion sense. The top names for today's dogs are old-fashioned cuties like Max and Lucy and preppy surnames like Spencer and Bailey. So when a young adult gets a new dog, her instinct is often to leap at the chance to use one of those special favorite names she's kept tucked away for the future.

Too late, many parents realize that their "first baby" has the name they wish they'd saved for their latest baby. You know, the human one.

Some parents just go ahead and name their babies in homage to their pets. Most, though, write the name off as a loss. Even if the parents themselves are OK with cross-species name sharing, the reaction of friends and relatives makes it a no-go.

But you're right, Jasper is a heck of a name. Fashionable, but not yet overused; on trend without being trendy; cute on a toddler and reasonable on an adult. It's no surprise you're not willing to give it up. Here are some questions to ask yourself to see if you can make the dog-to-baby transition work:

Who knows that the four-legged Jasper came first? The fact that the neighbors and local friends (and future girlfriends and teachers) will never know the name's provenance is a good start. But what about your older sons? Do any of them remember the dog? Have they heard the name Jasper all their lives in a furry context, so that it might as well be Fido to them? And based on the sibling relationships they have now, are they likely to use the doggy connection to torment their little brother?

Second, what are you planning to tell young Jasper about his predecessor? You shouldn't wait until the day he asks mommy and daddy about the cool dog in all of your family photo albums, only to learn that he has more in common with this pup than he imagines. From the start, make the beloved family dog part of the story of how you chose Jasper's wonderful name. Part, but not the whole story.

Finally, does your family have a new cherished pet? If Jasper himself grows up loving a dog as a member of his family, he might just see the naming connection as a positive. To a young boy in particular, somebody like Fido -- I mean, Max or Bailey --could be a pretty cool namesake.

How do you name your pets? Share your experiences here. And if you have your own question to Ask the Name Lady, drop her a line!

Related: Where Have All the Boys' Names Gone?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.