Good Dog

To the Dog I Loved First

Because you never forget the name of your first best friend

Photo: Tom Lennon Collection

A boy and his dog.

In a recent Talk of the South newsletter, G&G asked for the names of our readers’ first dogs. The names—and tributes—poured in. Below, we’ve compiled some of our favorites, from a “mixed-up terrier” called Skippy to Gumbeau the Lab to a cocker spaniel named Mops.

Some people got creative: 

I was in elementary school and my name is Jane, so my first dog was…Spot! —Jane C.

Rougarou. Because who doesn’t want a dog named after the mythical creature of Cajun folklore? —Carla M. 

Beautiful handful of a dark brown female puppy. Couldn’t come up with a satisfying name, so my mom suggested Dee for dog! Dee lived fifteen years and always answered to her name. —Van and Debbie H.

An English setter called Cinders. —Sarah M. 

Bitsy, because she was a beautiful Dalmation and I was so enamored with my new puppy’s “little bitsy spots.” —Kay R. 

My first dog’s name was Amos Moses from the Jerry Reed song. He wasn’t a Cajun dog, just a very sweet German shepherd. —Bryan D.

We adopted our first dog from a foster home in Virginia when he was just a few weeks old. The rescue organization had named him Marvelous, which my then-young sons had no intention of keeping. We put our heads together, brainstormed, and finally agreed on Champ. Out of respect for his rescuers, I quietly kept “Marvelous” in his legal name, leaving him with the modest, understated title of Champion Marvelous, which he’s lived up to well into his twilight years. —Devin D.

Others made us laugh: 

As a puppy, she was constantly passing gas. We named her Windy. —Lee S. 

photo: Gina E.
Nacho, Gina E.’s first dog.

Nacho, as in “nacho dog” to my husband and daughter when I had my midlife crisis and found my boy. Best thing I ever did. —Gina E.

My first dog was a cocker spaniel named Sandy. Thankfully my parents intervened; I wanted to name her Worcestershire, which was my favorite word at the time (age four). —Judy R.

Murphy, then Ellie, then Squirt. She found us and wasn’t supposed to stay, so Dad said don’t name her. We knew he’d give in and let her stay, but the poor gal still got stuck with the name Squirt. —Marley S.

My first real dog’s name was RD. Because he ran in front of my friends’ cars, barking and trying to bite their front tires, they all called him Running Dummy. It took three trips to the vet before he learned how to get out of the way. He died of old age. I really miss him some days. —Steve S. 

My first dog was named Butt. His official registered name was Cristal Springs Rear Admiral. It turned out to be a perfectly chosen name…he had a mischievous streak at least a mile wide. What a character and the best pal you could have. —Albert R.

Of course, there were some tear-jerkers: 

He was the child my husband and I never had together. He was a jet black English Labrador retriever. Now they are both gone. I just know Gumbeau was waiting at the rainbow bridge when Brian walked up. I think about them both each day. —Linda J. 

Butch, a black and white border collie who was my dog when I was four, but Dad thought he was his sheep dog. If I was home, Butch would not work sheep with Dad. He never left my side and slept on my bed at night. I left Butch with Dad working sheep on the ranch and went to town with Mom one afternoon. I was nine. When I returned home, Dad and Butch were gone. He left a note for Mom, which I saw her read and get tears in her eyes. Dad came home with the worst news in my young life. Butch ran into a rattlesnake and took a bite between his eyes. The vet tried to save him, but the two hour drive to town was more than he could overcome. We cried for days over old Butch. — Larry T. 

Cocker spaniel named Mops (for his ears). He loved to roam and we found him a time or two in the middle of a very busy two-lane road. He spent the majority of his long life at the family farm in rural southeastern North Carolina, far from a paved road. When he was deaf and blind, he went on one last hunt and never came back. One of my uncles found his collar several years later way down in the woods. He died happy. —Jim W. 

My daddy was a bird hunter and he trained bird dogs to point. The year before I was born, the bird dog he was training was gun shy, so he became the family pet. Joe was his name, all white except for orange brown ears, face, and a quarter size spot on the top of his head. I loved him and he loved me. He died when I was eleven and he was twelve and I was broken hearted. I’ve had many dogs since, and loved them all, but he will always be my first. —Terry Watson S.

And finally, many readers reminded us how a first dog is a first best friend: 

Brownie. He was a rescue from the pound. I was around five years old when Daddy and I went to pick him out. No clue as to breed, probably a mutt, medium size and of course, brown fur. —Kate D. 

Lady. She was an English setter, and she would stand over my crib and look at me. I have a great picture of me looking up a tree when I was three, holding a toy gun, with her on point. That was fifty-eight years ago. —Scott P.

Muffin was a white long-haired dachshund. He would meet me at the bus stop every afternoon without fail and never left the side of the pool if I was in it. —Stacey J. 

Daisy, a toy poodle gifted by my grandmother, to keep me occupied while my daddy did three tours in Vietnam. — Missy M.

Apollo. Greatest friend a kid could have. —Philip A.

Ladybug, a border collie mix. After my sister and I were grown, Mama told us she never worried about us when we played outside because Lady was always there to babysit.  Unbeknownst to us, Lady constantly circled and gently herded us in the backyard. I guess we were her pups. —Jill S.

Skippy. Daddy called him a mixed-up terrier. He followed me everywhere and always gave me away at hide and seek. —Ann W.

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