Back in Calgary, on while picking up some dog food for lorenzo, Michelle and I fell in love with a cute little Bichon Cocker Spaniel in the window of the pet store. We just had to have her, as a companion for Lorenzo, of course…
While browsing the store for some extra supplies to help her get settled, (an extra food bowl, leash, collar, etc.), Michelle came across a small daisy pendant that you attach to a dog's collar. She not only liked the flower-shaped pendant, but she also decided that we should call our new bitch Daisy. I was never a big fan of the name, but Michelle seemed to like it so I went along with it anyway.
About a month or two later as her hair started growing, (puppies grow very fast!), she started to get very big, puffy cheeks, or cachetes as we call them in Spanish, and the name "Cachita" occured to us. We felt like it would be wrong (or too late) to change her name after two months of calling her Daisy, but ever since then, we've always regretted not changing her name and calling her Cachita instead.
Fast-forward six years later to today and the name Daisy has been bugging me more and more. For one, the name is way too common for female dogs, plus it feels weird to have two of our dogs with hispanic names (Lorenzo and javier) and then Daisy is the odd one out with an anglophone name… So I started researching if it's OK to change a dog's name and what effect it has on the dog. Here's a portion of an article I found on cnn.com on the subject:
Each year, millions of cats and dogs are adopted from animal shelters or rescue groups. More often than not, those pets get new names to go with those new homes.
"Dogs don't have a concept of identity the way we do,"says certified New York dog trainer Renee Payne."It might be confusing if you change [the name] regularly, but everyone I know calls their dogs several different nicknames. You can always add on; you just want to have some consistency. It has to be something you consistently call them."
Certified dog trainer Amber Burckhalter adds that a name change can be good for pets, particularly if they were abused. Consistent use of a new name helps them adjust to a new and different life.
"If I took my dog to the dog park and yelled 'Dutch, Dutch, Dutch' and the dog ignored me, and this has gone on for several years, we may suggest you change the name to associate a new behavior,"she says.
So there you go –
"Dogs don't have a concept of identity the way we do",
"a name change can be good for pets" and
"change the name to associate a new behavior"… That's all I needed to be able to convince Michelle that not only is it not too late to change her name after six years, but we can actually use it to our advantage and make it a good thing!
Making the transition to the new name wasn't very hard since we were already calling her Cachita every once in a while (for years) as a nickname. In fact, it took us longer to get used to consistently calling her Cachita than it did for her to learn her new name!
Actually, all three of our dogs have a lot of nicknames we call them. Lorenzo is the smartest of the three so he responds to a lot more of them than the others – Little Lorenzo, Marcus the Morkie, The Fluffy White Dog, Le Petit Chien Blanc, The Original Dog, Señor Bigotes, Mr. Bigotes, Big Ortez, Skinny Whinny, Stinkus Rinkus (with the small dinkus) – he responds to all of them. Javier also responds to Two Cutes, Mr. Cutes, Mr. Mister, Munchkin, Pumpkin, Guau Guau (wow wow), Fluff Monster, Little Boy and my new favorite which he responds to the most now, Chucho! As for Daisy, err I mean, Cachita, she also responds to "Daisy Beluga, Margarita, Maggis Raggis" and "The Big Brown Bitch"…
Apart from multiple nicknames, our dogs also have their own songs/jingles that they respond to. Cachita's new favorite song (she loves shaking her tail and dancing!) is, of course, "Cachita" by Puerto Rican composer Rafael Hernández. I've played this song countless times over the years (maybe even on every gig I played with Emilio) and have been singing/whistling it a lot lately, much to Cachita's content.
Here's a video that Michelle took of my good friend Luis Mario playing this song with his group Cimarrón at Woodbine Park during the Toronto International Beaches Jazz Festival back in July 2011:
You can stay up-to-date with our dogs by following them on twitter: @the3dogs