What’s in a nickname and how the heck do our pets know all of theirs? I have been thinking about Sasha a lot lately. This morning was no exception and for some reason my thoughts were focused around her many nicknames. Isabella even has a few herself and I started contemplating how our pets relate to our usage of nicknames.
According to Wikipedia: A nickname (also spelled “nick name”) is a descriptive name given in place of or in addition to the official name.
So I get it, typically it’s the shortened version of a name. Yes, Sasha was quite often called Sashie and Isabella’s mom calls her Izzy. But what about those nicknames that are really just terms of endearment. A name, when heard, which seem to evoke feelings of warmth and joy for humans who understand them and allow the subject to feel a strong sense of being loved. For Sasha there were the typical ones; Precious, Pretty Pretty Princess, Baby Girl, Sweet Pea. For Isabella it’s Princess, or our family’s particular favorite: Flomar (a warm furry friend according to Dennis in “The Martian Child“). Do our pets feel those same feelings of satisfaction when bestowed with our endearments?
As smart as I think animals are, especially Sasha, I assume the emotion we emit when using such a nickname is what is picked up by our pets as opposed to the name itself. But for many, nicknames are more humorous or even at times a reason for embarrassment. How do our pets interpret those?
Sasha, as I said, had many nicknames, some very creative and some more animated than others. A few more of hers; Sashie Versache, Sashanator, Sashquatch. I can recall her antics when met with a whimsical “Hi there Sashie Versache”. Yet, as much as she resembled a seal with her big round eyes (Exhibit A), for some reason we never came up with a related nickname that drew upon that.
She was also affectionately called Poop-neck which was derived from the fact that on more than one occasion she was caught “applying herself with an ode ‘de poop” which is a nice way to say she was caught rolling in poop.( Exhibit B) I suppose there is a transference of emotion we convey when using such nicknames as well? I can remember her look of shame when bestowed the poop-neck title! That just wasn’t proper for a sweet little girl like her!
I find we (pet owners) often borrow food items as nicknames too. In our family’s case it seems to be snack foods. Hmmmm, what’s that telling us? Maybe it’s just another expression of playfulness! Shasha was often referred to as Popcorn and Isabella is still referred to as Peanut, perhaps even more frequently than she is called Isabella! It depends on if she’s being a good girl or bad girl! ;-)
My final observation: nicknames express emotions. There seems to be some sense of security that comes from the familiarity and informality of a nickname. Whatever the subconscious reason, we all use nicknames and potentially sometime may even abuse nicknames!
Next Post: Top Ten nicknames for dachshunds, send me your suggestions!
Peanut, Popcorn and Punky
Sasha baby, come see me in my dreams soon!
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