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So you’ve decided to add a new furry (or scaly, or feathered) friend to the family. Good for you! You’ll encounter many challenges along the way, but one of the first is what you will name your new little buddy.
This subject became relevant for me back in June, when I lost my Maltese, AJ, just shy of her 15th birthday. She loved begging for treats and staring at me until I let her sit on my lap.
After spending a few days crying my eyes out, I was still sad, but I knew that I wanted another dog, and my family agreed. We researched local animal shelters and breeders, and we finally picked out a 9-week-old Havanese. After much deliberation, we named her Poppy.
That’s right, I’m writing an article about comic bookish pet names and yet I did not give my own dog such a name. Rest assured I did consider them — we almost went with the name Rhododendron, which would have allowed me to nickname her Rhodey, like War Machine — but in the end, she just seemed like more of a Poppy.
Still, I did quite a bit of thinking on this topic while auditioning dog names, and I came up with five categories of pet names for you to consider as you think about what to call your own new fur-ever friend.
Category 1: Real Person Names
If there’s a particular creator you like, pay homage by naming your pet after them. This may be easier for male pets, as male creators with names like Stan, Jack, Roy, George, Marv, Jerry, Joe, Steve, Grant, and so forth have dominated comics for the better part of a century now. However, there are an increasing number of female creators to honor, including those with names like Marie, Gail, Nicola, Willow, Kelly Sue, Glynis, and Louise.
Or you could be a rebel and pick a name you like regardless of your pet’s gender. Who cares about gender norms! Not your dog!
Like with Category 2 names, it may be easier to sneak these types of names past an unsuspecting family member. So if anyone in your household isn’t enthusiastic about comics, sticking with “normal” names is a good option for you.
(Disclaimer: I am not responsible for domestic strife caused by you giving your pet a stealth nerd name.)
Category 2: Fictional Person Names
If you’re more attached to characters than creators, pick out a favorite and see if it fits your pet. For female pets, you have options like Carol, Pepper, Lois, Misty, Kitty, Jean, or Mari. On the male side, try Bruce, Matt, Clark, Tony, Hank, Reed, Arthur, or Oliver.
If you’re less inclined to be subtle, you can pick the character’s superhero name rather than their secret identity. This gives you options like Captain Marvel, Supergirl, Starfire, Bucky, Daredevil, Zatanna, Flash, Hulk, or Shazam. (Bonus points for naming your fish Namor or your bird Black Canary.) Or, if you prefer the villains, try something like Penguin, Doctor Doom, Metallo, or Kingpin. But try to avoid the baddies who too closely resemble real-life villains — no one wants to go to the dog park and be confronted with a dog named Red Skull.
If you really want your pet to stand out, you can give her both a first and a last name, like Miles Morales, Sue Storm, Guy Gardner, or Riri Williams. (This works with Category 1 names too, e.g. Jack Kirby instead of just Jack or just Kirby.)
If you have more than one pet, Category 2 offers some fun opportunities for themed names. Think Wanda and Pietro, Beetle and Booster, or Diana and Nubia.
Category 3: Fictional Pet Names
Superheroes have pets, too, and those pets have names! For dogs, you can pick from names like Lockjaw, Ace, and Pizza Dog. For cats, we have Stinky, Streaky, Dexter/Dex-Starr, and Zabu. And if you’ve got a lizard, Devil Dinosaur is a fun name to consider.
Category 4: Non-Name Names
If you’re looking for something really unique, give your pet a name that isn’t actually a name. Does she always come when you call? Name her Mjolnir. Is she your biggest weakness (and does she use that fact to get extra treats out of you?)? Her name is Kryptonite. Does she make your home a paradise? Call her Themyscira.
Superhero comics have generated a lot of fun names, so there’s plenty of room to get really wild!
Category 5: Chaos Names
This category is insidious because you may not realize the name you pick falls into it until it’s too late.
For instance, say you name your pet Harley because you love Harley Quinn, only to have to spend a doggie lifetime fending off motorcycle enthusiasts trying to tell you about their sweet ride. Name her Krypto, and every dudebro in a five-mile radius will assume it’s spelled with a C and try to explain block chains to you. Name her Black Panther, and…well.
If you’re fine with correcting people, or if you want to cause problems on purpose, more power to you! But make sure you pick such a name intentionally. Say it out loud a few times before you commit. Run it by friends and family, preferably those who aren’t comic book fans and may be able to offer perspectives you hadn’t considered.
Want to know more about comic book pets? Check out this article about the best doggies in comics!