Jimbo, Rufus, Miles and Balloon: How Did Your Pet Get Its Name?

Publish date:
April 16, 2012
pets, cats, dogs

Rufus waits patiently at one of many vet offices last week.

Last week, Banfield Pet Hospitals released their list of the “craziest” pet names in America, culled from patient records. The results are mostly painfully cute (“Chairman Meow,” “Cookie Fudge Rainbow”), although the top honors was taken by an unknown animal named Fatty McButterpants, a name I am totally bummed I didn’t think of first.

Having only ever adopted abandoned cats or strays, I’ve always felt pretty justified in ignoring whatever name the animal shelter gave them. My beloved late feline soul mate was called “Willie” by the MSPCA, a name I instantly hated and which didn’t suit him at all. The first night I had brought him home -- during which time I had simply been referring to him as “cat” -- I had a dream in which I was calling him Oberon, which settled things.

Around the same time, my husband adopted a black female kitten whom he named Beezelbub, a name totally inappropriate to the cat’s personality, but which he was dead set on naming her. Within a year her lack of demonic nature became wildly apparent, and she became Bea.

My current cats -- most recently the famous Rufus -- also had shelter names. Rufus was called Baby, and even now I’m not sure if it was affectionate (he is super lovey and cute) or humorous (he also weighed 26 pounds at the time). His companion was called Penny, and while her name fit her perfectly, we agreed pretty quickly that “Baby” needed a new name.

Penny helps me work.

A couple days after bringing him home, my husband was watching him lumber around and said, inexplicably, “YOU BIG DOPEY RUFUS!” I think he meant it as an affectionate insult, but I liked it immediately. (Rufus’ other names acquired since include “the Baron” -- after Baron Harkonnen in Dune -- more specifically “Baron Rufus von Poopenstein,” as well as “Poodle” and “Poopus,” after his digestive issues).

I asked a few of the other xo editors to throw in their pet names.

Emily: My partner picked the name Jimbo and I just asked him why and he said, "I don't know, he looked like a Jimbo." The funny thing is that his full name is Jimbo the Amazing Orange Cat McGillicuddy," which is neither of our last name's by the way. It's written out on his vet files and everything."The Amazing Orange Cat" is an obvious pick, clearly descriptive of what he is. McGillicuddy is a random last name we heard on one of our best early dates at the Coney Island Freak Show.

Corynne's new rescue dog, Ryer.

Corynne: Dave (my husband) and I got our sweet Ryer -- she was named after Ryer St in the Bronx were she was brought after being rescued -- on Friday. She's our first dog together. Technically we are still fostering her, but there is no way we could ever let her go.

Bryan: My childhood dog was a black toy poodle we named Radar. I want to say the name came from my mom, but not sure. It reminded me of the character on MASH which I didn't (as an 8 year old) appreciate at all. The store told us he was purebred and we could show him and his coat would never go grey. He had a habit of peeing on my dad's ugly newsboy hats, and he lived to be almost 20. Pretty awesome dog.

Jane: Rebecca (UK editor) and I were just talking about how there are no dogs named Rebecca. Also, when Charlotte was about 3, she said she was going to have a dog named Balloon. She didn't remember it, but I did. When we found our puppy in the shelter 5 years later, she picked the name Balloon (even though I didn't remind her that she's said that before). A guy at the shelter with a dog named Addie said, "It doesn't exactly roll off the tongue." It's true and who cares?


Phoebe: My cat's name is Mitford. named after six crazy British aristocratic sisters, including the author Nancy Mitford. He came from a rescue centre called Battersea Cats & Dogs Home in south London, and his original name was "Oska" which we thought was lame. My husband swears calling him Mitford was his idea -- I am dubious, but I must confess I originally wanted to name him Gollum or Fernando, so I don't really have much credibility here. Although we don't know Mitford's antecedents, he is a posh-looking chap with his silver fur, so we named him after the aristocratic Mitford sisters. Here's a photo of him looking cute and insolent -- his default setting.


Madeline: Josephine was named after the late and great Josephine Baker. We chose it because she's a very beautiful, girly cat who is always the center of attention. In addition to that, she's also a very nurturing, maternal character; her namesake was also very maternal-- Baker had 12 adopted children all from different backgrounds and they lived together in a castle in France. Josephine Baker had a beautiful soul and so does Josephine the cat. We call cat-Josephine Jojo for short. She's 14 but as beautiful and energetic as ever— her quinceanera celebrations will be held in July and you're invited.

Helena: My 4-year-old pug's name is Miles Davis Andrews. I wanted him to be the calming constant in my life and also I was listening to The Love Supreme on repeat right before Miles arrived. I threw Andrews in there because, like my mom, I firmly believe families should have the same last name.

So now you tell us yours.