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Our Favorite Name Is Taken – By a Dog!

My husband and I are expecting our first child, a boy, very soon. We've chosen a name, but haven't shared it with anyone. We have new next-door neighbors who moved in a few weeks ago. I just found out yesterday their DOG has the same name as what we planned to name our son. I feel devastated. We live in a city, in close proximity to our neighbors. It took me a long time to settle on a name, and we have no backups. Should I feel foolish or not care?

–So Defeated

Unfortunately, I'm a Name Lady, not a fortune-teller. And that's what we really need to answer this question. Do you have any idea how long you'll be in your home, or your neighbors will? Maybe they'll outgrow their space and move on, or you will. And—how to put this delicately?—the dog won't be around forever.

If one of you moves away in a year, you'll regret giving up your favorite name for some random neighbor's pet. I don’t think you should feel foolish if you decide to use the name. After all, the qualities that led you to it are still valid, and it's not as if this dog belongs to your mother or another close relative. It's just a coincidence that the dog arrived in your building just before your baby did. You could even have fun with it, taking a picture of your baby with the pup to record the first time the two "Spencers" meet. Laugh it off!

Then again, not caring isn't a perfect option either. You can't ignore the fact that your son might spend his childhood hearing "Sit, Spencer! DOWN, Spencer! Did you pee on the floor, Spencer?!" That could be hard to take, for you and your kid.

So you'll need to decide what you can handle, and what you can't: Giving up the name? Or sharing it, we hope just temporarily? If you feel you can't live with the pairing, maybe you can find another name that shares some of the qualities you love about your original choice. If it were actually Spencer, for example, you could consider Archer, Brennan, or Seth. The Name Matchmaker tool at BabyNameWizard could help (free signup required).


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July 4, 2016 11:20 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I know someone who had a family dog Taylor and ended up falling in love with and planning to marry, you guessed it, a Taylor. For the most part, there wasn't confusion when talking about a Taylor, but sometimes they had to specify Taylor the dog or Taylor S. They ended up not getting married anyway but for other reasons. I say, go with the name.

July 4, 2016 1:38 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I shared my name with a lot of dogs & cats when I was growing up, though I didn't know other humans with the name, and I was fine with it. Now I'm in my 30s and lots of 10-year-olds have the name. Use the name you love now- you can't control who or what other uses it has in the future.

July 4, 2016 7:04 PM
By Juli (not verified)

How would you have handled it if the timing had come out the other way around: first the baby, then the new neighbor's pet? You would've had a little laugh, complimented your neighbor on his taste in names, and moved on with your life, right? The exact same approach works in this scenario, too.

July 5, 2016 2:14 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Hasn't this exact question been asked before?

It doesn't matter.

July 5, 2016 5:46 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Our neighbors have a son named Jack. Two houses down got a new puppy, a Jack Russell, and named the dog Jack. We were a little surprised they would use the same name as a boy on the street. The dog has since passed away and those people have moved. Jack is now 14 and still is a great kid with a great name.

July 6, 2016 2:45 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Go with it. Most pet owners in my circle have given their pets human names. Nigel, Reggie, Mel, Anna, Polly, Felix, Daisy, Molly, Harry, Chloe and Oscar are all human names as well as pet names. It reflects many people's wish to humanise their pets. I wouldn't let that stop me using a name I liked for my child even though the neighbors have a cat or dog named the same. In the UK Felix is the name of a cat food brand. I also know a very feisty 7 year old with that name. His sister Daisy isn't exactly shy either, despite sharing her name with a dog. Nigel the person was a bit of a dork. Nigel the cat was a cool dude who loved everyone. Roll with it.

July 10, 2016 11:07 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Definitely use your favorite name! I share a name given to a lot of dogs and it isn't a big deal. It helps that I love dogs! I also nannied for a family for a few years that had a dog before I met them with my name. They just referred to her as dog _____ and me by my name.

July 11, 2016 3:13 PM
By Teddy (not verified)

Don't lose a name you love just because you might have to share it with the neighbor's dog. When I was 15, I got a new step-sister (4 years old) who shared a nickname with our family cat. We all lived together and sometimes, yes, it did get confusing. But we managed. I think it would be even easier with a neighbor you don't live with.

I say keep the name.

July 12, 2016 6:18 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I've almost always used human names for my pets and would never want to "scare" anyone away from using these names for their children! When I was in college, I got a cat and named him Julio (after Julio Iglesias - this was around the time of the duet he did with Willie Nelson). Within a year of getting this cat, a new security guard at work came on board and his name was Julio. I laughingly told him that was my cat's name, and we had a little laugh over it. No big deal. My last cat was named Ashley, which has been very popular as a girl's name for a long time, so I ran into many human Ashleys over the 21 years that I had my cat named Ashley. (Yes, my cat lived to be twenty-one!) Current cat is Mitzi and she's almost 17. While that's not a popular name for new babies, I have run into a few humans named Mitzi in the 16 years since I got this cat, and any "that's my cat's name" incidents went similarly to the above-mentioned one with Julio.

My new dog (first dog I've had in almost 30 years) is named Lynndi, pronounced just like Lindy, and she's named after singer Lynn Anderson, which is the reason for the spelling. I don't know of any humans with that name, but I'm sure if I met one, it would be the same.

There's always a chance of running into an animal that has your child's name. Keep the name and enjoy it!

July 12, 2016 7:25 PM
By Molly (not verified)

As a Molly, I get this a lot. I can't even count the number of times I've introduced myself to people only for them to respond excitedly, "that's my dog's name!" It can get frustrating: I'm a human, not a dog. What next, your dogs fur looks like my hair? Do we have the same eyes? Note: it's not my name that is bothersome--it's other people affiliating me with a dog.

But frustration aside, I've never minded having a name that was more popular for dogs than humans. My name is a "person name," after all, not a "dog name." I'm not a human named Fido.

Because you didn't include the name you were considering, i can't tell if it's traditionally a dog or person name. But Ithis is my rule of thumb:

if it's a "Fido name" i.e. a name used almost exclusively for animals and might set the kid up for some teasing/ridicule, id say no. (but then again, I know an Angus Scratch and a Phoenix--who's a big sister to Delta!--and they all pull it off well.

if it's a "Felix name" i.e. a name long-associated with a famous animal but originally a human name, especially if coming back into style a la Milo (and Otis!) etc, Yes! Perfectly usable, and what a shame they're only given to our pets!

if it's a "Molly name" or a Bella, or a Rosie/Sadie/Chloe--and perhaps even a coco--yes! These are all human names which are currently popular for animals, but nonetheless, still human.

But if it turns out it's none of these and your neighbor just happens to have a dog with this name, I'd say screw it. Surely a child takes precedence, and who but your neighbor could judge you for "stealing" their name? And even if they did, it wouldn't be very neighborly of them to do so :). You didn't think of the name after your neighbor told you, and explaining that should be an easy conversation.

And, at the end of the day, it's your decision. Use the name you love, no matter what the guy next door thinks.

July 12, 2016 9:48 PM
By Pamela S. (not verified)

Didn't Steve and Terry Irwin name their daughter after a crocodile? Who thinks 'crocodile' now when when they see her? Pretty sure there will be a lot more little humans than crocodiles named Bindi from here on out.

July 28, 2016 7:09 AM
By crystal (not verified)

This is pretty funny - my son's name is Spencer and my best friend from college's dog's name is Spencer. I completely forgot about it until I had already decided on the name. When I told her his name she laughed and said it was like her dog.

THEN I had my daughter, Piper. Her nickname is Pippi. One day our next door neighbor is out in his yard calling his new dog and what is her name? Pippi. At least the baby came first in that situation. ;)

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