Does anyone else give their dogs (or their service-pups-in-training) funny alternative names? We don’t get to pick the names of our CCI pups; they come with their names as a package. But Steve and I somehow wind up bestowing bizarre nicknames on all of them (a continuation of our practice with the canine pets that we had before we started raising canine companions.) I should probably be ashamed to admit any of this (much less write about it). But somehow it feels to me like part of the Experience.

Tucker, for example, gets called not only the normal and respectable “Tuck,” but also Tuckerbell (which in turn is a contraction of Tuckleberry Hound Dog) and Tuckerman. Brando, our one success story, somehow became Brandonioni or Brandini when he resided here. We dubbed Darby “Darbinski” and “Darbinscus” and “Darberella.” How she did so is now lost in the mists of memory, but Yuli acquired the alias of “Snork.”

The strange thing is that we weren’t using the nicknames because we had any objection to the dogs’ real names. I’ve loved all our dogs’ names — until we got Dionne. Mostly I prefer not to give dogs names that normally belong to humans. Dionne arguably isn’t the most common human name on the planet; we often end up having to explain it to strangers (“like Dionne Warwick”). But it sounds first and foremost like a human name to me, so from the start, I was curious to see what it would morph into within our household.

We never consciously select the alter-names; they just sort of… emerge. When Dionne was in her most aggressively mouthy stage, I toyed with the idea of re-naming her Deinonychus (after that nasty little dinosaur who played a role in Jurassic Park). But that hasn’t stuck. Instead more often then not, I we call her “Dionnicus.” Once in a while, “Dionne-y” emerges from my mouth.

And when she’s being sweet, who can resist calling her Princess?

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