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Thursday, July 2, 2009

What's in a Name?

McKenzie came with his name

Tuloon has her girlish figure back and spends some time in the yard with Zulu.

Tukisi and Isis also came with their names.


Journey's very attentive stare

Oken is completely naked now that he has shed out.

Ilu catches a glimpse of a rabbit outside the kennel.

I recently received an email from a dog mushing adventure guest. He posed some very fun questions and of course any musher loves to talk about their dogs. I was told that "inquiring minds" might find this interesting so here you go, Mike!

What is the origin of some of your dogs' names?

I've got this one covered on the Points Unknown website. Please click here to go to the "Meet the Dogs" page.

What inspires you in selecting their names?

I am usually inspired by the individual dog, the line/breed, the circumstances in my life at the time of their birth or by other people close to me and their experiences.

The 2007 half Hedlund Husky litter names were inspired by their grandfather Zulu. He is such an amazing dog I thought it fitting to try to use names that began with "Z". However, only two were found suitable; Zodiak and Zala. The third pup that remained at Points Unknown kennel out of that litter was named Oken. You'll find the inspiration for his name on the link above.

When naming the Inuit Dogs I tried to use Inuktitut words when I could so I was always reminded of their heritage.

The recent Hedlund Husky litter comes to me at a time when symbolisms are even more important in my life. I've had a long time knack for finding feathers. Actually, they seem to find me, any and all kinds of feathers. I've got quite a collection from little blue ones with polka dots to very large turkey feathers. I've also had the privilege of viewing on a daily basis, the many white feathered birds that only this year, have decided to call our little lake their home. They have passed by over the years but this year, they remain. After doing some research I uncovered the following information:

In dreams feathers mean travel or the ability to move more freely in life. White feathers in dreams indicate innocence or a fresh start in a spiritual sense.

A quick summary on symbol meaning of feathers:

  • Truth
  • Speed
  • Lightness
  • Flight
  • Ascension
I was amazed to see that the symbolism of white feathers mirrors my circumstances. And interestingly enough, a very good friend who also happens to be a musher, has had a knack for being found by white feathers. Thus, White Feathers it is for the new little pure white Tuloon/McKenzie baby girl.

I am still waiting for the inspiration for the names for the remaining two female pups.

How long do you generally wait before giving a dog its name?

This depends upon when the inspiration hits. You can have names all picked out and then for some reason, they don't fit the puppy and it's back to square one. I generally don't like to imprint the pups too soon by calling them by a specific name until I know for certain who will be staying and who will be placed with another member of our preservation program. They may be temporarily named so they can be referred to by a name instead of "white tail tip boy" or "gray mask girl" but I won't call them by a particular name until I am certain. They all just get so excited when you call them anything at a young age so I just stick with "puppies!".

Do you take the sound of the dog's name into account by giving thought to how much it might sound like the name of another dog in order to avoid ambiguity when calling out the dog's name in connection with a command?

Most definitely! I've come up with what I thought were some great names and when giving it more thought, realized that they either sounded like another dog's name in the kennel or very much like a command I typically give while on the trail. The perfect name(or so I thought) came about while at my chiropractor's office. He had an informational display for a product made with Goji berries. I loved the name Goji! (Go Gee) How confusing would that be if we're going down the trail and I yell out; Klaus go gee! or Goji go gee! You see, "gee" means turn right and I always add the word "go" in front of that command. The dogs would certainly be confused not to mention poor little Goji. So that name was retired as quickly as it hit me.

The names Ilu, my 4 year old Canadian Inuit Dog and Zulu, my 13 year old retired leader, are close enough to cause a pause or a bit of confusion. Zulu is now retired and not in the dog yard which makes it a lot easier on both of them.

Thanks so much for the questions. As I said, any musher loves to talk about their dogs and I'd be happy to answer any more from any and all "inquiring minds".

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