Judge John Hodgman on Naming Children After Pets

Alicia writes: My wife and I were discussing names for our daughter, and I suggested Sadie — the name of my childhood dog. My wife vetoed it. She thinks you shouldn’t name children after pets. I disagree. Who’s right?

There’s a simple rule for naming a child when two parents are present: It’s two yeses or it’s a no. But even if your wife loved the name Sadie (or Fluffy or Pawmela or Professor Snake or whatever her own childhood pet was named), I would still rule against you both. Your child does not exist to adore and comfort you, like a golden retriever, nor to amuse you, like a vain cat does when it falls off something, or when you name it something quirky (e.g., Pawmela). I’m certain Sadie the dog was wonderful, but your not-Sadie deserves a name that honors her first, as the whole human being she is from Day 1, even at her most poopy and drooling stages.

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