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!)

Published July 16, 2018. Last updated July 16, 2018.
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 [email protected].

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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  • Kay

    July 16, 2018 at 1:44 pm

    This is not your exact issue but you might find it amusing. My cousin adopted a dog that came with the name Emily. 11 years later Emily-the-dog was very ancient and they were expecting a baby girl, and named the baby Emily too! I thought their answer about why was pretty brilliant: “We’ve been saying the name ‘Emily’ every day for over a decade and we still like it, so we know it’s a good choice!” Their backup joke answer was an Indiana Jones reference.

  • Carolyn Russell

    July 16, 2018 at 2:19 pm

    I have two sisters, each of them got a dog during one of my pregnancies, and each of them randomly happened to pick my current favorite baby name for their dog! Hahaha, it was totally coincidental and in our case didn’t end up mattering because those names weren’t my husband’s favorites (though if they had been we TOTALLY would have named our baby that anyhow!) but I’m wondering how many people are going to say, “THIS HAPPENED TO ME, TOO!” to this 😉

  • Nicole

    July 16, 2018 at 2:47 pm

    My sister has a dog named Jack Daniels, and I was *thisclose* to naming my son Jack. Even told my sister that was my plan, she thought it was funny. My husband ended up suggesting a name I liked even better, but we had already circulated Baby Jack and Doggy Jack and literally no one did more than giggle a little and move on 🙂

  • Stephanie

    July 18, 2018 at 12:55 pm

    Also keep in mind that dogs do not live nearly as long as humans (sadly so, I love my dogs, dearly), so the name overlap will not be a lifelong thing for your son. If it’s the only name you and your husband agree on, and you love it, do it. Just keep your sense of humor, as Amy says. And I would definitely give your SIL a head’s up if you have a good relationship with her.

  • Cobwebs

    July 19, 2018 at 10:47 am

    It’s canon that Indiana Jones took his name from the family dog, so there’s certainly precedent.

  • Erin Withans

    July 25, 2018 at 10:50 am

    My parents came up with my unusual name when trying to name their dog a year or two before I was born. They decided they liked the name so much they’d save it. I heard this story when I was in elementary school, not long before Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade came out. I was THRILLED that I was named after the dog, just like Indiana Jones. My mother kept trying to explain to me that no, I wasn’t “named after” the dog, they had just made up my name when trying to name the dog. I would hear none of it, because having something in common with Indian Jones was too exciting.

    It’ll be fine. There will be a few jokes, but your kid will get something kind of in common with Indiana Jones, and that’s awesome.

  • April

    August 2, 2018 at 10:46 pm

    My daughter shares a name with the next door neighbors’ dog! It’s pretty funny. Their little girl goes outside often, and calls for the dog, and my daughter always gets excited thinking that the neighbor is asking for her. It doesn’t bother any of us though.