Naming In The News

Product Naming Company Creates a Formula to Name the Obama Family Dog

February 28, 2009 — By Lindsay Barnett

A company called Strategic Name Development believes it's come up with a formula to create the perfect name for the Obama family's future dog. The information, staffers say, was gathered by polling U.S. citizens who supported Obama in the election and own a pet. What they found was:

We learned that this group is partial to naming their pets after well-known people - either real or fictional. Names ranged from Scooby and Linus to George Washington, Cleopatra, Garrison Keillor and even poet Edith Sitwell.

Using that information, they developed a checklist for "First Family dog naming," using the acronym PETNAME, which stands for:

  • Politically optimistic - Gerald Ford's dog, 'Liberty,' Richard Nixon's, 'Vicky' (which means victory) and Jimmy Carter's 'Grits' are on the right scent. Conversely, Rutherford B. Hayes and Calvin Coolidge may have sent the wrong signals with names like 'Grim' and 'Calamity Jane.'
  • Easy to pronounce - and easy to spell. Lincoln's dog was named Jip, which was often spelled Gyp.
  • Tell a story - the name should say something about character, history or pedigree. Kennedy's dog, Shannon, was a gift from the president of Ireland.
  • No more than two syllables - the longer the name, the harder to train.
  • Atypical - avoid the obvious: Max, Sam, Lady, Bear, Buddy, Smokey, Shadow.
  • Made in America - Avoid foreign-sounding names like Manchu (Theodore Roosevelt), Caruso (Taft) and Pushinka (Kennedy).
  • End with a vowel sound - Pet names ending in vowel sounds like Fido (Lincoln) and Barney (Bush 43) are significantly easier for your pets to hear. This is good insurance for a president who wants to make sure that no matter what he does, there is still one living being who will listen to him.

The name the group finally landed on fits 6 out of 7 criteria spelled out in "PETNAME" and "is consistent with what we learned in our proprietary research, that Obama supporters prefer pet names - either fictional or real - that are named after a person," according to its website.

That name?


By way of explanation, NameWire says "RahmRod combines the names of two top dogs in the Obama administration, Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod."

Astute Obama-watchers may note that there's a second connection between the name and the President: prominent celebrity Obama backer Bruce Springsteen has a song of the same name. (It's spelled R-a-m-r-o-d, but still.)

Nothing against Strategic Name Development (a company that's worked on product-naming campaigns for companies including Kraft Foods, General Mills and Pizza Hut), but we have to say we're still partial to commenter Bill's name suggestion, Maverick.

A tip of the hat to commenter Diane Prange, who tipped us off to this story. Thanks, Diane!