Tag Archives: pet names

How the Chihuahuas Got Their Names


Happy Friday, one and all! The WEEKEND is coming, SPRING is coming/here (I heard on the news that it is still technically winter in the morning but spring by evening, however that works), and it feels like just the right time for everyone’s favorite thing–PUPPIES!

Side note: I tried to research what percentage of the population actually prefer dogs, and the stats were all over the place. I did, however, find this interesting headline from National Geographic:

U.S. Pet Poll: Most Prefer Dogs, 18 Percent Want Dinosaur
A fifth would rather spend time with their pets than with people.

According to this article, 18% is also apparently the percentage of people who believe the Loch Ness monster is real, which seems a little coincidental to me. It’s kind of a fun article, so if you need a two-minute diversion this weekend, click over and find the answers to all life’s pressing questions (Are cat owners really weirder than dog owners?).

Anyhoo, Kathryn from Through the Thicket, who has four really exceptionally named cats herself, recently commented on the unusual/random names of my three chihuahuas–Fatty, Jellybeans, and Pepper–so I thought I’d share the stories of how Justin and I picked those names.


I sometimes wonder if people think we’re the rudest, most insensitive humans when they hear us calling our big ole squishy but infinitely charming pup a disparaging name like Fatty. What I always want people to know is that we did not intentionally name him this; the name was an accident, and whose fault that accident was will have to be something you decide for yourself. Here’s how it happened:

When we’d been dating a few months, Justin consulted me about the idea of getting a chihuahua puppy from his grandma’s new litter. I purposely did NOT help with this decision, mostly because I thought it wasn’t the right stage in our relationship for me to be advising on decisions that could affect him for years and years. I didn’t know at the time that Justin does exactly what he thinks and wouldn’t have gotten a dog just because I wanted it. And as it happened, I said nothing, and he got the dog anyway. But I wasn’t off the hook yet–he wanted me to name it. Justin already had a dog, an English Mastiff named Bilyeu, and he’d described to me the painstaking thought he put into choosing Bilyeu’s name. Luckily, I was in a Shakespeare class that semester and had the perfect name–Sir Toby Belch. But Justin didn’t like my perfect name and said he wouldn’t call the dog Toby, he’d call him “Sir.” After that ludicrous declaration, I went back to my strategy of non-engagement. I said, fine then, I won’t name the dog. He said, neither will I. The dog would remain nameless.

Then, one afternoon when I arrived at Justin’s house, the puppy came running toward me, and I said, “Come here, you little fatty!” In the absence of any other way to refer to him, we just kept calling him that, and that is honestly how Fatty got his name. For a year or two he was formally “Little Fatty,” but after he grew out of his puppyhood and legitimately got large (he is over 11 lbs–we tell people he is a variant breed called a King Chihuahua, and sometimes they believe it), he just became Fatty. And so he is.


Maybe we learned something from Fatty’s accidental naming, because we had Jellybeans’s name picked out years before we got her. I don’t know exactly where the name came from–all I remember is that we were discussing what we would name our future dog and testing out different food names when we thought of Jellybeans in a flash of inspiration. Whenever we looked at different puppies, we always asked the question, “Is this Jellybeans?” I eventually found her on some kind of a puppy board in North Carolina, and one night we drove an hour and a half out to Raleigh to pick her up at 11pm somewhere in the vicinity of an IHOP. (Now that I’m thinking about it, Pancakes would have made a damn good name, too).

After we got her, we found out pretty quickly that Jellybeans is a long name to call a dog, especially one like ours, who listens to no one and is constantly being yelled at or called after. I figured she’d probably be “Jelly” for short, which is also cute, but no–that is not how it ended up. Somehow “Beans” just felt more natural, and that eventually turned into “Beanie,” which is what we call her now.

People really do seem to find Jellybeans to be a strange name for a dog; I think it’s just about the best idea I ever had.


When we got her, this little pup already had a different name–Muffy. She was one and a half and had belonged to Justin’s grandma, who doesn’t get around too well. When we were visiting last Christmas, she told Justin that if he was still willing, she wanted him to take the dog. The “still willing” part threw me off a bit, because Justin had apparently expressed his initial willingness during a visit where I was not present. I was against it at the time, mostly because two chihuahuas seemed reasonable, but three seemed like the beginning of small herd. Also, we got Beanie because Fatty was so well behaved, but Beanie behaves terribly a lot of the time and actually taught Fatty some bad habits. I couldn’t imagine what we were in for with a third dog. As it so happens, Pepper is the world’s sweetest animal, and I fell in love with her immediately, so I’m more than happy to admit my total wrongness in this situation.

How she got the name Pepper, which is supposed to be the point of all this, is pretty straightforward. I wanted to rename her, so I basically just did a free association and called her whatever came to mind when I looked at her. She’s black and brindle, so eventually I happened to say Pepper, and that was that. Not too inspired. We call her Pep or Peppy for short, and one of her favorite things is to run around with wild abandon, so that fits her perfectly.

Here are a few more pics of these puppernutters to get your weekend started right:

Side note: “Puppernutter” is a play on “Fluffernutter” (a marshmallow cream/peanut butter sandwich and just a funny word) and also a word I made up to substitute for “crazy dog.” So there’s small glimpse into the depths of my weirdness.

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Do you have any pets? How did you name your dog/cat/mythical giant underwater reptile?