Politics, Moderate



Thurber’s Tail: How NOT to Name a Puppy!

Tom Purcell on

“Thurber! You can’t name him Thurber!” shouted my otherwise soft-spoken sister, who had named her own dog “Snowball.”

“What the heck kind of name is Thurber?” said my friend, Griff, who has a Jack Russel named “Chip.”

“You need to name him a short, manly name like ‘Sam’ or ‘Jake’ or anything but a goofy name like ‘Thurber,’ you imbecile,” was the gist of the posts strangers left on my social media feeds.

Though some of the comments I was getting could be considered rude and belligerent, they were not without merit.

According to The Scotsman, “Max” is the most popular name for male dogs on the planet.

That is followed by nine other top names that include “Charlie,” “Buddy,” “Rocky,” “Jack,” “Milo,” “Toby,” Leo,” “Rex” and “Bruno.”

Though I love all of these names, I wanted to give my pup a more original name — one that related back to the very funny writings of James Thurber.

“Muggs,” the name of the dog that bit people, was one I’d considered.

“Now you’re talking,” said Griff. “‘Muggs.’ I dig it.”

“ ‘Muggsie!’ ” said my sister Lisa. “You have to name him something cute and ‘Muggsie’ is perfect.”

But I didn’t want to name my dog after a surly mutt who bit people.

I had considered “Rex,” too, since Thurber and his brothers had given that name to one of their many dogs.

But when it came right down to it, I had known what I’d name my future pup since that day in 1978 when Ayresie and I got booted from the library.

I Named Him “Thurber”

Despite my over-thinking and indecision, I kept coming back to the name “Thurber.”

I’ve always loved the sound of the name — the soft “thurrrrr” followed by the decisive “brrrrrr!”

Besides, my pup shared the warm, lovable look of many of the dogs James Thurber affectionately sketched.

As I said, he was unlike the other pups in his litter. He was content to sit in the background, observing his litter mates — much as his human, a writer, prefers to do.


Truth be told, I thought it would be pretty fun to probably have the only dog in the world named Thurber.

So naming him after one of America’s great humorists was definitely the way to go.

I called Mike and Maryanne and asked them to call my pup by his new name, and to do so immediately.

“ ‘Thurber’ it is,” said Mike.

(Share comments about how you named your dog at this blog link: www.ThurbersTail.com/dogname.)

But He Wasn’t the Only Dog Named Thurber  

When Thurber was nearly 18 months old — as he blossomed, his name most definitely reflected his inquisitive, playful, silly nature — my Uncle Bert called me.

“Your dog isn’t the only dog to go by the name of ‘Thurber,’ “ he said.

“He’s not?” I said, a little disappointed.

“In the 1960s, a famous singer gave one of her beloved dogs the very same name,” Uncle Bert said.

“Which famous singer?”

When he told me, I laughed out loud.

She is one of my favorite musicians of all time: Janis Joplin.

According to a New York Times article, she was a dog lover throughout her life and also named one of her beloved pups after the great humorist, Thurber.


Copyright 2022 Tom Purcell, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Tom Purcell is creator of ThurbersTail.com, which shares helpful pet-care tips and funny stories and videos featuring Tom’s beloved Labrador, Thurber. Email Tom at Tom@TomPurcell.com.

Copyright 2022 Tom Purcell, All Rights Reserved. Credit: Cagle.com




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