© Warren Fahey 2008
Dog names in Australia, like those of people, are creations of fashion. As a young lad growing up in Sydney I was very aware of the limited
names given to dogs (and young boys and girls) – the most popular being
- Blue or Bluey (inevitably a red cattledog)
- Red (ditto)
- Whiskey (usually black and white like the popular whiskey brand of the era)
- Bitzer (a bit of this, a bit of that)
- Heinz (he was 57 varieties)
- Rollie (after homemade cigarettes)
- Foxy (usually a fox terrier)
It wasn’t difficult to track new popular names, especially those introduced by Hollywood movies. Lassie was almost the generic name for long-haired dogs. Scamp became popular after Lady & The Tramp. Australian cartoon dogs also supplied names. Cartoonist James Kemsley’s Ginger Meggs had a canine mate called Mike. In those days it was unusual to call a dog by a human name. Ken Maynard’s well known cartoons in Australasian Post back in the 50’s 60’s, of the famous Ettamogah Pub always had scroungy-looking dogs, all of them smoking fags, because Maynard hated smoking! Joliffe;s ‘equally popular Witchetty’s Mob’, a rather tasteless strip based on supposed Aboriginal life, also featured some pretty unimpressive examples of scratching dogs, implying les than clean living standards. Dagwood Bumstead, the lead in another popular cartoon, had a dog called Daisy but I am not sure how this ended up as a reference to the early takeaway roll and Frankfurt known as a Dagwood Dog.
Dogs nowadays carry many different and very exotic names. There are several internet sites that list endless dog names. Just try googling ‘Dog’s Names’. Folklore has it that some people call their dogs specific weirdo names just so they can shout them out in public places: Nurse, Police, Doctor, Waiter, Cooee, Hooroo etc being the most commonly offered.
My own dogs have been named Whiskey, Astro, Bindy and Moses (or Mo). No rhyme, no reason.