In Dog We Trust

My dog is a Boxer. Like most Boxers, she’s high-spirited and extroverted. So to burn off her ridiculous amounts of energy, we hit the dog park at least once a week. Over the four years that we’ve been going to this field of canine conviviality, I’ve noticed a gradual change.

It’s true that my dog still spends most of her time roughhousing with an endless procession of Maggies, Jakes, and Baileys. But lately, she’s played with Carlos the basenji and Poncho the mutt and, in a true cross-cultural feat, she even raced Miguel the German Shepherd.

It used to be that only Chihuahuas would get Latino names. Now I’m meeting Rhodesian Ridgebacks called Selena and hearing people yell, “Pedro, come!” at their Australian Cattle Dogs.

Is this a subtle evolution of new cultural norms? Is it a subconscious acknowledgement that Hispanic names are no less American than “Charlie,” and therefore, they’re good enough for our best friends? Or are people just tired of calling their dogs Max?

Now some may be offended that I’m amused by all these Hispanic canine names. Isn’t it, by its very nature, dehumanizing that Latinos are increasingly being equated with dogs? To those critics, I say, lighten up.

Plenty of white names are used on dogs, with no ill effects for those monikers. I once knew a Belgian Malinois named Keith, for damn sakes.

In addition, is it really an insult to be equated with the greatest species on the planet? Yes, it should be clear that I’m very fond of dogs (see my earlier post on this) and perhaps I’m bias. But in any case, a responsible owner names his pets with the best of intentions, on the basis of love or as an act of homage. They do not go out of their way, usually, to signal contempt or debase others.

My own dog is named after an Irish pop band (no, her name isn’t U2). But perhaps I will consider naming any future companions Jose or Maria… or maybe I’ll pass on that idea because, after all, too many dogs will probably have those names already.



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July 2009
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