A boy named Rover

What do you call the baby when all the good names have gone to the dogs?

Published March 8, 2002 8:23PM (EST)

I checked my voice mail this morning, and in between the one from my mother and the one from my boss was one from my husband. You wouldn't have been able to tell it was Ray, but I could. No one else would hold the cellphone up to the car radio for a full 30 seconds to record Neil Diamond singing "Cracklin' Rosie."

Ray is no Neil Diamond fan, but he loves the name Rosy. We both do. I like AC/DC about as much as Ray likes Neil, but I'll always keep the dial on "Whole Lotta Rosie."

The name Rose is beautiful. Classic, elegant, with a great nickname -- Rosy. And it's not too popular, only 294th on a list of girl names in the morning paper.

So you'd think that when our first child -- a daughter -- is born this summer, we'd have no trouble picking a name. But there is a problem: We've already got a Rosy in the house. A 5-year-old, 50-pound, sweet-faced, black-haired dog.

Much as I love Rosy -- both beast and title -- I can't name my child after a retriever-spaniel mix.

I haven't taken a survey, but still, I'm certain I've stumbled on a social phenomenon here. So many people are waiting longer to have children, and making dogs their pre-kid substitute, that there must be a rash of babies out there with second-choice names. How could anyone name their kid after their dog? (Or cat, for that matter. I never should have wasted the name Isabelle on the kitty.)

For years, I've made secret fun of a second cousin who named her daughter Shayna. Shayna is a pretty name -- literally, it means "pretty" in Yiddish -- and Shayna is a pretty girl. But even now, with Shayna in her teens, I can't help but picture her namesake, the long-departed family Schnauzer, whenever I see her.

It's a dilemma. When I met Ray, he had a cat named Tigger. I like people names for animals, so Isabelle (nickname: Izzy) followed, then Rosy, then Elliot (dog) and Ernie (cat). Now all unavailable names. I suppose one solution may be to give your animal a human name that you could never give a kid. My friend Cindy named her cat Zoe, knowing if she has a kid it will have a B or an M name in honor of departed relatives. And my sister and her husband named their beagle Danny. A perfectly respectable name for dog or man as far as I'm concerned, but apparently not fit for their kid. My sister won't tell me why, except to say that it has something to do with a private joke in grad school.

So I can't name my daughter after the dog, but I do hope she has all of Rosy's attributes -- quiet, loyal, always wants to cuddle, yet playful, sweet and never bites. My child could even lick my leg when she's hungry or rip the stuffing out of her toys -- I'd probably love her all the more.

For now, we're getting our minds around a compromise. How bad could it be if we gave her Rose as a middle name? There it would be, a beautiful touch, but nestled where it wouldn't lead to too much embarrassment -- or confusion for the dog, a loyal girl who might be driven insane by the constant calls to attention.

By Amy Silverman

Amy Silverman is a staff writer for Phoenix New Times.

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