Sunday Summary 1.3.21Our family grew by four paws and one very waggy tail in December.

We’d decided to adopt a rescue dog way back in 2019. It took far longer than we expected, but we finally connected with a great local organization. (If you’re in metro DC, it’s Lucky Dog Animal Rescue. They were great!)

After an almost-match or two that didn’t work out, one of their volunteers called to tell us about Darly. She had a rough start in life, but she’s relentlessly upbeat and curious. I admire her resilience and optimism.

Okay, if I’m being honest I spent the first 72 hours in a little bit of a panic. (Rookie dog mom here … I didn’t realize just how active a 40-pound puppy could be.)

But I also fell in love.

We initially assumed we’d change her name … I mean, of course. But we all pretty quickly realized that Darly – the name she came with – suited her perfectly.

Of all the dog-related surprises, my willingness to not re-name the dog was probably the one that surprised me most of all.

If you adopted a rescue pet, I’m so curious … did you change names? Why or why not?

Elsewhere online:

Gotta love a Top Ten that includes Wilfred and Florence. British Baby Names has rounded up the most popular choices from the Telegraph. Better still, she’s added data on that ever-elusive question: what are the most popular middle names?

Exactly what I needed to start the New Year: more medieval names! Yup, the Dictionary of Medieval Names from European Sources has launched a new edition, adding gems like Gordian and Dominilde. Thanks to Sara and her colleagues for bringing so much joy – and scholarship! – to our lives!

I’m intrigued by Nancy’s question: are there other names ending with -fer that work? I mean … I still say Lucifer is a hard no. But I’m slightly obsessed with Dulcifer, at least as a way out-there middle. I’ll take Ava Dulcifer over Ava Rose any day …

Love the name that Emma Roberts and Garrett Hedlund (apparently) chose for their new son: Rhodes! It’s a little bit buttoned-up and scholarly, but bold and adventurous, too. Boy names ending with -s don’t appeal to me in theory, but whenever I’m presented with one (Hayes, Banks, Wells), I find myself really liking them.

This question at SanctaNomina got me thinking about the patterns we see in our kids’ names – but no one else notices. The couple asked Kate if they should stick with saints’ names drawn from the Roman canon. (It’s recited during every Mass, and includes a long list of names.) Here’s the thing – I’m Catholic. I’ve heard that exact recitation of names thousands upon thousands of times. I didn’t notice. In fact, I don’t think that their daughter’s names – Felicity and Lucy – feel particularly Catholic. (Though I know other Catholic families with daughters with both of those names.) And so I find myself thinking … we often see patterns that no one else does, and worry about breaking (or continuing) a naming rule that only our little family ever knew about in the first place. It’s another endorsement for using the name you love, nevermind the patterns.

Eager for more name chatter? Subscribe to my newsletter, sent every Tuesday:


Please select all the ways you would like to hear from Appellation Mountain:

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. For information about our privacy practices, please visit our website.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp’s privacy practices here.

Girl Names: 1.3.21 Boy Names: 1.3.21

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

You May Also Like:

What do you think?


  1. We renamed both of our current rescue dogs. One was Babs but we changed that to Abby—keeping the “b” sound so as not to confuse her. The other was Hamie (the litter was named after pork products, like Porky and Bacon), and we changed her name to Hannah.

    A previous rescue dog I had was named Jacques, and I kept that one. It suited him!

    Something I enjoy about pets is how often they end up with nicknames that are completely unrelated to their names. One of my dogs responds to “Doodle Bug” and “Doodles” as much as her actual name.

  2. I am usually a renamer except for my first cat. He came with the name Martin and it suited him so I kept it. My first dog was called Abigail at the shelter and I changed that to Brigh. I inherited a golden retriever named Tucker but I didn’t care for the name and there were three other Tuckers at our dog training facility, two of them also goldens! He was four at the time so we didn’t want a drastic change. Went with Puck since he constantly gets into trouble. I leased a horse for a while and couldn’t bear to call her Dollface so she became Ollie. As a name nerd, I have a huge list of names and it’s important for my pets to have unique names that suit them. Other pets’ names include: Abban, Leary, Rowan, Caoimhe, Fearghas, Merrimack, Bantry, and Laramie.

  3. Our cats were all older when we adopted, so we kept their names, but we added nicknames over time. Princess is Principessa or Principessa Bella Diva when we are being affectionate, or Princess Marie when she is in trouble. Bill is Memo or Memote or Bub or Bubby Bill.

  4. We were looking at several dogs at the shelter but my husband really liked one in particular that looks just like our older dog. He said if we got that one, we could name him D’Artagnan, which is a name I love. His original name was Sonny which I found a little generic for a golden colored dog. Our 1 year old came along and shortened his name to Tanyan.

  5. Congratulations on your rescue pup! We adopted ours 4 years ago and he’s been the best addition to our family.

    Like you, we fully expected to rename him. He came to our local rescue from a shelter in the South that gave the dogs celebrity names. Our guy was Will Smith. While we didn’t keep Smith, we ended up liking Will (and now William) on him.

  6. Our cat was named Purr-scilla when we got her, and I don’t like “pun” names, so we shortened it to Celia.
    Our first dog we got mainly BECAUSE his name was George, which was the name of my husband’s first dog, so we kept it. Our second dog is Leo, we changed it from Lavender (all the dogs in the litter were named after plants/spices).
    I also had a cat named Aley. Obviously I prefer human names on pets. 🙂

  7. Our dog’s name at the shelter was Madeline, but we have a human Madi in the family. We changed it to Maisie. She was found as a stray and had only been in the shelter for a few days, so she wasn’t attached to the name Madeline anyway 🙂

  8. Of the three dogs we’ve rescued over the years, we’ve renamed two out of three. Probably because their shelter names were either super unique and not in a good way like Darly or they weren’t actual people names which we prefer. The first was Marshmallow whom we renamed Mazie. Then we adopted Romy and kept that name (it was actually a name we considered when expecting one of our daughters and thought about Rosemary, nn Romy). Our most recent canine adoptee was in a litter of all Y named dogs and he was called Yadick. So, no brainer there. We let my son rename him and he went with Flash after his favorite superhero so it doesn’t quite fit our style but works really well for our big guy.

    Oh and two of my daughters recently adopted and renamed animals. One’s pup was Donna and she is now Judy which I love. She’s a red dog so we decided to name her after Judy Garland. And one’s kitten was Winky but is now Millie.

    I grew up in a household where all the pets got J names just like all the humans (except my mom who was the odd one out). Over the years we had Jeffrey, Jason, Jennifer, Jessie, Jackie, Julie Jodie and Jolie.

  9. It’s so exciting to hear about Darly! She’s lucky to have a lovely home now. I adopted a rescue dog about three years ago now, She was named Ziva and we kept the name, also because it just suits her! I do like Ziva anyway.

    1. Thanks, Imogen! I never considered myself a dog person, but now I completely get it. And Ziva is a fun name – I suspect I wouldn’t change that, either.