Baby Name Turf Wars

The Dog Ate My Baby Name

By Amalah

Hi Amy,

I’ve read your advice to others on this subject, but haven’t stumbled across anything specific to our situation, so I would love your, and your reader’s, perspective!

I am 29 weeks pregnant with my second baby boy, and like so many others, my husband and I have struggled to come up with a name that we both like, besides ONE name. My SIL (husband’s sister) recently got a dog, and lo and behold, named the dog the name my husband and I agreed on, and were planning to use for our son. We have never discussed the name with anyone ahead of time, so there was no way she could have known, or have done it with any malicious intent. It’s purely a coincidence, and with the rise in human-names-given-to-animals popularity, also unavoidable to have name overlap sometimes. I’m willing to bet there are dogs out there with my 1st son’s name, too.

To me, it’s a non-issue, I still love the name, and have no problem using it for our son, even though his furry “cousin” has the same name. But my husband thinks it will be too weird, and that our family members will think it is weird that we “named our baby after a dog.”

I’m looking for some advice…is it weird? Does it warrant a conversation with SIL because we may name the baby the same name as her dog? I feel like my husband is overthinking it and if we like the name, we should just move forward with it, but maybe I’m not thinking about it enough and it is “weird.”

Help me Amalah!!

Doggonit, “stolen” baby name

Right after we got married, my husband and I adopted a little boy kitten and named him Max. Years later, when we found out we were expecting a little boy human, we both were like, “Dang, we should have saved that name!” In our case, we considered the name fully off the table because the cat was like, our cat and lived in our house so there’d be no way to avoid double-name confusion. (Unless we renamed the cat, who probably wouldn’t have noticed in the slightest, but he was our first baaaaaaaby so that was simply not an option.)

In your case…well, I do understand your husband’s perspective here, but I also think you’re in the clear to just go ahead and use the name. The dog doesn’t live with you and might not necessarily be present at every single family get-together. And it’s not like you’re naming your child Fluffy or Rover; it’s a human name for a human baby that had nothing to do with your in-law’s dog. (AT LEAST I ASSUME SO. PLZ DON’T NAME UR BABY FLUFFY.)

I think you WILL need to have a sense of humor ready when you announce the name to your family, but a simple explanation that it was just a funny coincidence and maybe a “yep, we picked the name out pre-dog, but still love it and great minds think alike, etc.” will be enough. If you’re close to your SIL, I’d probably give her a heads’ up that you plan to use the name. Just tell her the honest truth that you guys picked the name out already, you know it’s just a coincidence and are planning to just laugh it off as two “cousins” with the same name. If anyone reacts with more of a “huh, okay” that’s on them, so just stay matter-of-fact about it being a funny coincidence and leave it at that.

And that’s it! At some point, people probably won’t even remember who came first, the dog or the person. Unless your SIL is someone who insists on bringing her dog to everything and everywhere, it’s unlikely that your son will be constantly reminded that he shares his name with a dog. And of course, outside your immediate family, absolutely NO ONE will even know about this particular name overlap. It’s more likely that he’ll end up as one of three Rovers in preschool, giving how inescapable naming trends are these days.

(My mom adopted three girl cats and named all three of them adorable human girl names. If we’d had girls instead of boys we might have poached at least one of those names. Instead, we mainly had to contend with the boy-names-given-to-girls trend, which gaaaaahhhhh. Baby naming is so hard!)

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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