How did you come by your puppy name? Was it given to you, or did you create it yourself? What does it mean to you? Was it easy to come up with or did you agonize over it for days, maybe even weeks? These are the questions that go through my head when I meet new puppies. To some puppies, their name is a reflection of who they are as both a person and a puppy, yet for others still, it is just another name.
Recently I was reading a featured profile and interview of a fairly big name puppy from the north east and they said something that actually took me aback. Their view on puppy names were that they should only ever be given by a dominant and that “no self-respecting puppy should ever pick their own name.” While I agreed with many of the other opinions and comments on puppy in general, that idea soured my own thoughts on the entire article. Who was this person to say that my own name wasn’t valid because it wasn’t given to me by someone else? In my own experience, if we all had to earn a puppy name from a handler or dominant, a vast majority of us would still just be “Pup.” Not everyone is fortunate enough to have that level of relationship with another handler to be given a name that truly means anything to you both. Often times, as individuals we come to the puppy scene unattached and completely inexperienced. We take refuge in our names, as a bulwark against the stresses of everyday life.
My own puppy name was not given to me. Nuke has been my other name for almost 10 years in various forms, following me from online username, emails, role-playing games, one after another, I had been known as Nuke in some form or another. The entire thing, Nuklearsamurai, actually has possibly the dorkiest origin story. I was setting up my own personal email for the first time, I was 15 and starting dual-enrollment between high school and the local community college. I didn’t want it to be something mundane like my first initial, last name followed by some random string of numbers, I wanted it to be unique. Up until then I had always used the random name generator in video games, so none of my characters meant anything to me, but I was obsessed with 2 things, 8-bit theatre, a sprite-comic that loosely followed the story of Final Fantasy 1 (hosted on nuklearpower.com) and the Samurai job class that I was learning to play on Final Fantasy 11. I threw them together and made essentially the only username I ever created on my own. I’ve been Nuklearsamurai, Nuke for short, ever since. When it came to developing this new puppy identity, my own name was simple, I already had this other persona online and in other areas. It just made sense to have it be my pup name as well.
We each have our own story, what’s happened in our lives that has shaped us into the people we are, and we all express it in different ways. There are no set rules to being a puppy, but one of the common themes is genuineness and authenticity. So long as you can identify with your name, regardless of its meaning, regardless of whether it was given to you or made yourself, it is your name. If not, it’s not an authentic representation of your self, or your story, and that is your own disservice to yourself.