Nancy Roman

The Name Game

Our waitress last week pulled out photos of her two doggies.

This has become a common occurrence. If you want to connect, just mention that you have a dog.

Anyway, she popped out her phone from somewhere beneath her apron and said, “Here’s Brian Jonathan and this one is Buddy Michael.”


I have committed a terrible injustice to my puppy!

He has NO middle name!

Ages ago, I had a friend with no middle name who told me she really hated filling in forms that required a middle initial. “I am going through life as Susan NMI Smith,” she complained.

Well, I can’t stigmatize Theo that way. I can’t let him hang his head in shame when he has to leave a blank space on his insurance form.

He needs a middle name.

My husband says this is unnecessary. But I tell him, “Just think about this:  We can’t get the dog to listen. Maybe it’s because he has no middle name to use – to let him know he is REALLY in trouble.”

And I am sure you are all nodding vigorously in agreement. The use of your middle name by a parent quickly told you how much trouble you were in, and how quickly you needed to stop what you happened to be doing.

So now we have to choose an appropriate middle name for Theo Roman. I’m sure as soon as we do, he will stop flunking out of obedience school.

As soon as I thought, Appropriate, of course the first name that came to mind was Lucifer. But even though it is certainly fitting, perhaps we don’t want it to be a self-fulfilling prophecy either.

How about something Theo is good at? Where does he excel?  But again, Theo Humper Roman may not be the behavior we should encourage.

My husband suggested “Garbage Can.” And it’s true that he is very good at leftovers, but we need something with just a little more class.

My favorite dog of recent literature is Enzo, from THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN. I was completely besotted with the total civilized dogness of Enzo. And so, I considered naming our puppy Enzo. Theo is a Lagotto Romagnolo, after all, and an Italian name for an Italian dog would be cool. But I had reasons to choose Theo, reasons that my husband loved.

Theo the Cat was part of our family when we first got married. A feisty black cat who was named Althea by some college kids who didn’t realize they had a boy. When they figured it out, they just called him Al. Which makes me think of the Paul Simon song, which I adore, but we had a good friend named Al. Al probably would have liked having a cat named after him, but just in case, we renamed the cat Theo when he was handed over to us. Theo had grown up holding his own against seagulls, and that is no small feat for a kitten. He had Courage with a capital C. At our home, it was the neighbor’s geese that Theo had to manage. And he was an excellent goose-herder. When it came to the numerous stray cats (and even dogs) in the vicinity, however, his abundance of courage was often misplaced, and usually took precedence over his actual fighting skills. He made more trips to the vet than I and my wallet would have thought possible. During one of his many skirmishes, it appears he became infected with one of the terrible cat viruses. His tough little life was short.

So my husband and I both liked the idea of having a Theo the Dog named after Theo the Cat.

Since we went the namesake route, maybe that would be a good idea for his middle name too.

The cat who shared our house with Theo the Cat was Casper. Casper was the best, craziest cat I have ever known. But he was certifiably OCD, and although that is perfectly acceptable – maybe even the norm – in a cat, I think in a dog that would perhaps be unbearable.

I had a dog, Sarge, as a teenager and young adult. And he was a great and sweet companion. But I’d like a two-syllable name, like Nancy Ellen Roman….Nan-cy-Ell-en-Rom-an.  It has good flow.

After Theo the Cat died and Casper was inconsolable, I went to the shelter and brought home Merlin. Merlin was around two at the time we adopted him, and had spent nearly a year in the shelter. He was delighted to be part of our family, and stuck around another 19 years. Merlin was both happy and cranky, curious and lazy. He took his place as Alpha cat and kept it even when he was so old he could barely stand up. No other animal ever challenged Merlin. But to me, the name Merlin is somehow distinctly feline. It would be unfortunate to put Theo in a position where he might be teased by the other dogs.

When Theo and his siblings were born, the breeder had given them tentative names  – because the puppies were evaluated as to disposition and energy levels in order to make the best placements with the right families. Theo had been penciled in as Carlo. Not a bad name at all. But I don’t like the rhyme-iness of a  Theo-Carlo paring. (The same goes for Theo Enzo… too many Os.)


It is not much of a jump to go from Carlo to Carlos. Carlos is the little dog in my own novel, JUST WHAT I ALWAYS WANTED. He’s a mono-visioned, bald-in-spots, nervous little guy. He is my own creation. I didn’t model him after any dog I knew or read about. I made him up. I imagined him and gave him a story. And how cool is it that I can actually give him a real life, after a fashion, by letting Theo share his name? Sure, there is a bit of an ethnic discrepancy, but it only makes Theo a bit more exotic.

Theo Carlos Roman.

I can put it to use right away.

Theo Carlos Roman, put down that slipper!



Theo Carlos Roman, get off the bed!

off the bed rev.jpg


Theo Carlos Roman, you cannot bury your bone in the potted plant!



  1. I’d never really thought about it and noe of my dogs have had middle names. Except Maggie sometimes gets called Maggie May after Rod Stewart’s song of the same name. But thats not why she was called Maggie…. she was a people magnet (Hubby couldn’t go two yards without someone wanting to make a fuss of the puppy in his coat), so the Mag-gie was born and she immediately responded to it.


    • Maggie May is a great name – certainly not one you would use when you’re mad at her though.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I applaud the selection of Carlos as we have a SharPei/Finnish Spitz mutt/mix that is named Carlos. Smartest dog ever. (Opens the back door with his paws AND closes it behind himself. Without being told. I could never even train the kids to do that.)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s obvious that giving Theo a middle name has done wonders for his obedience training. He cowers at hearing all three names… just like I did when I was little. 🙂


  4. From his happy look in the picture I’m not sure the middle name is as effective for him. Of course it’s wonderful to be able to have such a full name to use when scolding. Just ask any nun.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It has had no effect so far. But Carlos in my book was a nice little dog – I am hoping some of that will rub off on Theo.
      And yes, the nuns made good use of all our names. So did my Grandma.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. davidhambling

    Yeah, that’ll work 😉


  6. Christine Cooper

    Cindy was always “Cindy-Lou” and now Lizzie is “Lizzie-Lou” – but these are terms of endearment. When they are in trouble it’s more like “Liz-ZIE” – “MisCHA”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cindy Lou was one of the sweetest dogs I ever met.


  7. Haha good luck with the disciplining of Theo Carlos Roman! ❤
    Diana xo


    • We haven’t found much that has worked yet. I’m willing to try a middle name.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. A perfect name. I makes Theo Carlos Roman positively cosmopolitan (small c, as in worldly, not as in the magazine).

    We have had two dogs with middle names. Charlie Freckle (Freckle was John’s addition. I am willing to acquiesce to stupid dog middle names) and Gary Cooper, both purebreds. While my mutts haven’t rated middle names, they still get/got yelled at.

    Theo really is adorable.


  9. So funny! So cute! My own grand dog is Chip. That’s it! No middle name!


  10. Ray G

    Check out Wiki for a list of famous Carlos’s. They include a Holy Roman Emperor, and a popular French singer, among others. I’m sure Theo can fill several of those roles.


  11. Darling dog. We still have our nameless kitty, now 6 months old. All our cats have the same middle name – poopalot


    • Oh, poopalot would work well for every pet I ever had. (and my husband)


  12. The name suits him 😊


  13. None of the dogs I have had never had middle names either just never accorded to me give them one


  14. dragon

    the only dog we had with three names was Wilburforce Herkimer the Third. I think that counts. A rescued pitbull terrier who lived to be sixteen years old and belonged to my eldest daughter, she having rescued him as a six week old pup. he knew when he go the full name he was in trouble. On the other hand, maybe it’s three syllables or more. Sanada, named after a japanese actor, knows she’s in trouble by how we pronounce the three syllables of her name. Doesn’t make her repent, but she knows she’s in trouble. LOL. Adorable dog and best of luck on the training. Part of it may just be that he’s young yet.


    • You may be right about the syllables. You can’t really say Theo Carlos Roman without sounding serious.


  15. Relax...

    He’s probably thinking, “OMD, why is she suddenly dragging my good buddy from obedience school, Carlos, into this guilting — he doesn’t even live around here!” Theo is a dangerous kind of cute, isn’t he? 🙂


  16. Reblogged this on misty564blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I love this. I never thought about giving prts a middle name. But it is pretty neat. I had two black cats in the past Charlie and Samantha (Sam for short)


    • I’ve had lots of cats but they never had a middle name. But I think Theo really needs on.e


  18. Theo is so cute. I hope he won’t grow up and complain to the other dogs that he doesn’t like his name though. And he will grow out of the naughty behaviour – mostly. My Cindy (no middle name) is ten and she still occasionally goes down the rubbish bin, not just the one with food scraps and wrappers, she sometimes goes down the one that has dust from the vaccuum cleaner and old toilet paper wrappings. I blame it on the labrador side of the family.


    • I don’t expect Theo to be perfect. Sarge, the dog I had as a teenager, couldn’t do much, but he wasn’t much trouble either. I’d be satisfied with that. (and also with walking nicely on a leash… now that I am older, I don’t enjoy being pulled through the streets.)

      Liked by 1 person

      • No me neither and Cindy is the worst dog I’ve had on a leash, mostly because she was mostly exercised by my husband who drove to the dog park and threw a ball for her instead.


  19. He’s adorable! Katie the sheltie-girl has no middle name either. But she knows she’s in trouble when her dad yells “KATE!”


    • It’s definitely all in the tone – and volume.


  20. It sounds like you made the choice just in the nick of time. Perhaps, Theo Carlos Roman will be come the model of decorum now…maybe not.


  21. My daughter had a long haired chihuahua named Neil Betelguise Diamond. He knew he was in trouble when she dragged out that middle name!


  22. “Theo Carlos Roman!” – yep, that yells out well. Sign of a good name (Although I think the next cat will be named Al. Just sounds right for a cat)


  23. Great name for an adorable dog!

    I was talking to someone just last night and when I told them our dog’s name, LaSalle Corbell Pickett (Sally for short) they said that 3 names always signifies a purebred dog. I think it was just that my hubby is a huge civil war history buff.


    • Cool name… and is your dog a purebred with such a distinguished name?


  24. Haha! I love Carlos, but Theo Humper was my favorite 😊



  1. The Name Game — notquiteold | misty564blog

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