Saturday, May 1, 2010

Saturday encore ~ Mine That Bird?

One year ago, a horse with an unusual name took the horseracing world by storm and won the Kentucky Derby. "Mine That Bird" inspired me to write this post about some other animals with unusual names.

How do they come up with these racehorse names? No matter. A 50-1 longshot by any other name is just as sweet. And that he was trained in New Mexico by a cowboy is just icing on the cake. Who doesn't love a fairy tale that comes true?

I'm often asked how I came up with the names for my animals. In case you've been wondering, here's the scoop.

It started with Wynonna. I had selected a perfectly good name for her before I picked her up (Oprah), but that changed on the ride home. She was nestled in a tub of straw in the back of my Jeep. Just as I was pulling onto the highway, she jumped out of the tub and into the front seat. The song on the radio happened to be "I Saw the Light" by Wynonna Judd. It was fate.

I brought home two Nigerian Dwarf goats a few months later, and they were without names for almost a week. They were inseparable, so I knew I had to think of names that were always said together. As I looked out the window and watched them hanging out with Wynonna, it just came to me – Waylon (Jennings) and Willie (Nelson). Now we had a theme started.

When I found the horse of my dreams a year later, her AQHA name was Spanish Petticoat, and her owner called her Petti. No way. Not acceptable. She became Emmy Lou (Harris) the minute she stepped onto my property.

Then I decided to let Emmy Lou have a foal. I had eleven months to think up names for the newborn and came up with a whole list of options, but nothing was finalized until the moment the colt popped out. Everything about him was unique, and Lyle (Lovett) fit him just right.

Emmy Lou passed on seven months later, and along came a Paint named Cochise. He was the perfect horse for me, except for his name. I liked the simplicity of "Buck" but had been warned about self-fulfilling prophecies. I went with Hank (Williams, Sr.) instead, and it fits him perfectly. Though in our early years together, Buck would have been more appropriate.

Along the way, I started raising laying hens. Collectively, they were the Dixie Chicks, and individually they were just Dixie, Dixie and Dixie, since it was pretty hard to tell them apart. And the indoor cats came along, too, but they seemed more floral than choral, and so were named Rosebud, Daffodil, and Snapdragon - aka Snapper.

And then came a new puppy, to fill the hole in my heart left by my beloved yellow lab Annie (Oakley), who was named before the whole theme thing got started. The St. Francis Animal Sanctuary called the puppy Grace, but that didn't suit her at all. She had been at the 7MSN for over a week and remained nameless, but every time I wanted her attention, I made that smooch sound and she would come to me. One day I just gave up on trying to think of the perfect name and decided to call her Smooch. Which turned out to be the perfect name.

And then came the burros. It was time to have animals in my barn named after my favorite country singers of all time – George (Strait) and Alan (Jackson). But there was a glitch. My father's name is George and I wasn't sure how he'd feel about having an ass in the family with the same name. Turns out he was honored.

By the time a new barn cat came along last spring, I had exhausted the theme of "country music singers with instantly identifiable first names whose music I liked." So a new theme was born - names from my favorite western of all time. My crystal ball isn't telling me who might join us in the future, but you can bet they will be called Woodrow or Gus or Clara or Lorena, to join Deets in this cast of characters.


  1. I enjoyed reading through that story again, and also loved seeing the pictures of a younger Wynonna and Smooch.

  2. Loved hearing how you picked your perfect animal names. And the part about Wynonna jumping into the front seat of the jeep made me LOL.

    The old photos were great, too!

  3. Yeah, somehow the country music stars of today just don't have that first name thing going on: Taylor, Carrie, Brad, Kenny.

    Don't forget July and Dish.

  4. I had either missed or forgotten Wynonna's leap into the front seat for the song on the radio. Atta girl!

    Derby is going to be a sloppy mess today I'm sorry to say. With a little luck it won't be storming, just raining. The thunderstorms have already moved through, at least the first ones.

    Last year was exciting. I'm always relieved when it is over without injuries. Too many horses on the track, wild and wooly.

  5. I don't remember this post from last year. Your theme is wonderful. Lonesome Dove is a perfect beginning to a second theme.

  6. I find the animal naming process more interesting than human baby naming! Emma (my cat) is mainly named by the mmmm? sound she made when she wanted my attention.

    Nancy in Iowa

  7. I can have 2 pages of names written down and yet quite often my pets convey their names to me like - June. She was just June from the moment I saw her and I wouldn't ever have that name in my head or on paper.

    I'm a huge Lonesome Dove fan too.

  8. Great theme for name calling. It's amazing that you've kept with it for all your animals. I usually have names picked out and end up changing them.

  9. When my mom commented that she really liked "that kind with the tan bodies and black legs" [buckskin/dun] I asked if I could name "Zoey" after her--She said it would be okay to name a horse after her, just not a pig! It's a good thing I don't have any of Wynonna's cousins!

  10. I love this post Carson. I love the new header too!

  11. That's fascinating how everbody was named. Nice too that your two themes are related to each other, both being Western ones.
    Just wondering was there a post I missed that explained how the 7MSN was named ? I'm sure there's a story behind that name too :-)

  12. Those baby photos are so adorable! Smooch's name is my favourite story

  13. I love the new header!

    Also, I like how you've come up with names. They make perfect sense to me. I'm big on names fitting the individual. Sometimes it takes me a while but eventually I get there.

  14. Names mean a lot. Sounds like your critters all fit in theirs!

  15. I am terrible at picking out names for my pets.....I can never think of anything clever at all. Love to hear all the stories. And from what I can tell....the names fit each one of them perfectly.

  16. Loved seeing all the animals again and the recap of how it all started. I've been known to wait awhile before deciding also... just to give myself a chance to see their personalites. My dog, Bossman, is aptly named seeing as how he rules the house...Have a great weekend.

  17. I loved reading the story again. I feel like I know them all!