10 Cool Dog Names and the Stories Behind Them

The first task of any new pet parent? Pick a name! With so many options to choose from (and often so many people weighing in on the decision), it can be a challenge to find the perfect fit for your unique new friend. The DogWatch team has met a lot of dogs over the years, and we’ve compiled some of our favorite dogs names, along with the stories behind them. Maybe your dog’s new name is on this list, or it will inspire you to find your own unique name for your dog!

Odysseus and Argos

Odysseus and Argos


Looking way back to the days of the ancient Greeks, Argos is one of the first literary dog names. Argos is the name of Odysseus’ faithful dog in Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey. When Odysseus returns home to Ithaca in disguise, Argos (now much older than when his owner left him) is the only one in the household who recognizes him immediately. By choosing this mythic name, you’ll be honoring the very first fictional “man’s best friend.”

Ashley Whippet

Do you see a lot of frisbee time in your dog’s future? Name him after the first champion frisbee dog, Ashley Whippet. Ashley was a Whippet (no surprise) who became famous in 1974 after he and his owner Alex Stein hopped the fence during a nationally televised Dodgers game and demonstrated Ashley’s remarkable frisbee-catching skills in front of a roaring crowd at the stadium and on TV. Stein was eventually forced off the field and ordered to pay a $250 fine for trespassing, but by then Ashley was already famous. The dog would go on to win the first three “Catch and Fetch” titles at the World Frisbee Championships. What athletic dog wouldn’t be happy to be named after this dog sports legend?


Asta in After the Thin Man trailer

Asta in After the Thin Man trailer

Fans of Old Hollywood, look no further than Asta, the adorable canine companion of the crime-solving duo Nick and Nora in The Thin Man films of the 1930’s. The Wire Fox Terrier (played by a male dog named Skippy in the first two films) nearly stole the show from his charismatic human co-stars William Powell and Myrna Loy. He helped them track down perpetrators and even saved them from danger! Asta is a perfectly glamorous name for your playful and savvy new partner-in-crime.


Balto with musher Gunnar Kaasen, who traveled the last leg of the Nome serum run. Photo by Brown Brothers, circa 1925." title="Balto with musher Gunnar Kaasen, who traveled the last leg of the Nome serum run. Photo by Brown Brothers, circa 1925.

Balto with musher Gunnar Kaasen, who traveled the last leg of the Nome serum run.

If you’re looking for a heroic name to match your superhero pup, we suggest Balto. The black Siberian Husky was the standout in a team of sled dogs and riders who traveled over 600 miles in blizzard conditions to retrieve an antidote to save the residents of Nome, Alaska from an outbreak of diphtheria that ravaged the town in 1925. Balto kept his team and leader Gunnar Kaasen safe on the trail, and even stopped just in time to save the team from falling into an icy river. There is a statue of Balto in New York’s Central Park in honor of his important ride.

To learn more about Balto, check out our blog post all about the heroic Husky and his dangerous mission.


Did you rejoice at the news that Netflix is bringing back the beloved 90’s sitcom Full House? OK, not everyone is excited, but I bet there are still quite a few of you who can’t wait to see the Tanner family back together for more adventures, jokes, sibling rivalry and life lessons about growing up (or, in the case of the reboot, growing older). If you’re a dog owner who wants to show off their love of this 90’s classic, then pick the name Comet, in honor the Tanner family’s sweet Golden Retriever. (By the way, did you know that Buddy, the dog who played Comet in Full House also played the dog in the movie Air Bud? Totally cool!)


Pal as Lassie 1942

Pal as Lassie, 1942

Everybody knows the name Lassie, the most famous fictional dog of all time. But if you want to honor the Rough Collie in a different way, why not name your pup after the first dog who brought Lassie to life on screen – Pal? Not only did Pal star in seven feature films from 1943-1951, he traveled around the U.S. greeting fans and performing. Retiring in 1954, Pal passed away four years later at the remarkable age of 18!


Pugs originated in China but are often associated with the Netherlands – ever wonder why? It all began with Pompey, a pug belonging to William I, Prince of Orange (also known as William of Orange) in the 1570’s. One night, the Pug alerted his owner to enemy soldiers lurking near his tent, giving him time to flee and saving his life. In gratitude, William named the Pug the official dog of the House of Orange. His family later introduced the breed to England, when his descendant became King William III of England. Heroic and royal? Sounds like the perfect name for your new arrival!

Sergeant Stubby

Sergeant Stubby

“Miss Louise Johnson & Stubby in animal parade”

We don’t even need to tell you the story – the name is already so great, right? Well, Sergeant Stubby has a story even greater than his fabulous name! The mixed breed dog (possibly a Bull or Boston Terrier mix) served in 17 battles during World War I, performing vital roles including alerting troops to incoming gas attacks, locating missing soldiers in between the trenches and boosting morale. At the war’s end, the brave dog received a medal from Gen. John J. Pershing, commander of the American forces in Europe, who saluted the dog’s “heroism of highest caliber” and “bravery under fire.” Stubby may not have looked striking at first glance, but his tough facade belied an inner strength and loyalty that are worthy of celebration.


The Phantom Tollbooth Book Cover, Illustration by Jules Feiffer, copyright Random House, 1961.Here’s an unusual one. Tock is the name of the dog in Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth, a classic of children’s literature, published in 1961. Tock is a literal “watch dog,” and has an alarm clock built into his body. He befriends the novel’s young protagonist Milo as the boy journeys through the strange and idiosyncratic world of the Kingdom of Wisdom. Tock is a great name for a family dog, as it not only celebrates a wonderful book but also suits the furry friend who will travel with the little ones of the family through their own imaginary worlds.


Is your new dog a born performer? If so, consider naming him or her after Uggie, the canine star of the Oscar-winning 2011 film The Artist. Uggie was the sidekick of silent movie star George Valentin, played by Oscar winner Jean Dujardin. The Jack Russell Terrier runs, jumps, chases, plays dead – you name it, he’s on it! To many, Uggie’s performance was the highlight of the charming film. After The Artist, Uggie became a worldwide celebrity. He appeared on numerous TV shows, attended the Oscars and even “wrote” a memoir. Capture the movie magic at home with your Uggie!

Does your dog have an interesting, historical or unique name? Share it here in the comments or on our Facebook page, and we may feature him or her in a future blog post!

Photo Credits

Argos: “OdysseusArgos” by Jean-Auguste Barre – Originally uploaded on english wikipedia by en:User:Gurvey. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Asta: Screenshot from After the Thin Man trailer, [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Balto: “Balto with musher Gunnar Kaasen, who traveled the last leg of the Nome serum run,” Photo by Brown Brothers, circa 1925, via Wikimedia Commons.

Pal: Photographer: Dell Mulmey, Quinault, Washington – eBay itemphoto frontphoto back. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Sergeant Stubby: “Miss Louise Johnson & Stubby in animal parade,” Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, photograph by Harris & Ewing, [LC-DIG-hec-31070].

Tock: The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, Book Cover Illustration by Jules Feiffer, copyright Random House, 1961.

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Posted in Dog Stories

Dog-Friendly Gardening: 4 Tips to Keep Them Out and Keep Them Safe

Margo the Golden Retriever sits next to the flower bedsSpring is here at last! Gardeners, as you start tending to your perennials, planting new flowers and working in your vegetable garden, it is important to keep in mind the other member of your family who is itching to get back outside after the long winter – your dog. Here are four tips to help you create a safer garden for your dogs (and outdoor cats), as well as how to keep your beloved pets from stomping on, digging up, or otherwise destroying all that hard work!

1. Select Your Plants and Mulch Carefully

We all know dogs love to sniff and explore, but dog owners should know that a dog’s gardening penchant can be hazardous. Many beautiful plants, and the fertilizers and mulches that we use to nurture a beautiful landscape, can be harmful to our dogs. Irises, tulips, daffodils, and many other bulb plants are toxic to dogs and cats, as are azaleas, rhododendron and foxgloves, which can cause heart problems. For a more comprehensive list, check out this searchable database of poisonous plants affecting dogs and other animals, created by Cornell University.

Ginger the Golden Retriever sits next to flowersPet owners should also be aware that certain types of fertilizer or mulch are also dangerous to dogs and cats if ingested. When using fertilizer, be sure to select a more pet-friendly option (see list here) and follow all instructions regarding wait times when pets should be kept off lawns or away from treated areas. Be sure to store your fertilizer bags out of your pet’s reach, or in tamper-proof plastic containers.

As Master Gardener Susan Patterson explains on the website Gardening Know How, cocoa bean mulch is particularly toxic to dogs, and should be avoided in favor of pet-friendly varieties, including pine, cedar, and hemlock. She adds that, even with these safer mulches, they can still be a choking hazard. Pets – especially puppies, who are often voracious chewers – should be supervised in areas with mulch, or kept out of these areas entirely.

2. Contain Your Garden

As a dog-loving gardener, there is an easy way you can keep your dog away from flower beds, bushes and vegetable patches, without building an expensive fence that hides the beauty of your garden. Hidden underground pet fences (also known as “invisible fences”) can be used in a variety of ways to keep your pet safe in your yard. DogWatch Hidden Fences are customized to your home, and can be configured to keep your dog out of your garden, as well as other specific areas such as the children’s sandbox, BBQ pit or swimming pool.

DogWatch Hidden Fences Garden Loop - Before and After

Bo the Jack Russell Terrier, before and after his DogWatch Hidden Fence Garden Loop

If you already have a DogWatch Hidden Fence and want to block off an area of your yard for a new garden, contact your local DogWatch Dealer. He or she will go through the best option for your yard, be it adjusting your existing wire to add a “garden loop” or installing a Groundskeeper system, which can be turned “on” and “off” should you wish to allow dog supervised access to the area.

3. Stop the Digging!

A lot of dogs love to dig, which can be nightmare for avid gardeners and those who like their lawns pristine. If your dog is a digger, the first thing to do is to try to figure out why the dog is digging. Is he looking for a cool spot to chill out when it is hot? If so, you may want to create a cool sanctuary in a spot where he cannot dig. When it is hot out, leave plenty of drinking water for him or perhaps even a shallow kiddie pool in the shade where he can cool-off (better wet than holes under the flower bushes!)

Ralphy the Corgi who loves to digIs she trying to get at critters that may be just beneath the surface of the yard (moles, chipmunks, etc)? If so, then the critters need to go. For that, you may need to consider using live traps or a pest removal service. Or is he just bored? If so, then he may need more exercise, new toys, or a playmate to share the yard. Digging may just be part of what your dog does with his excess energy. More walks, runs, or trips to the dog park can work wonders with certain unwanted behaviors, including digging.

Some dogs are by nature tenacious diggers, and will require training to reduce this problem behavior. DogWatch Dealers can help you with this issue as well – ask them about the BigLeash Remote Trainer, and how it can help distract your dog from digging and discourage the behavior. For more tips on how to stop your dog from digging, check out our recent blog post on the subject.

4. Watch Out for Chemicals in Lawn Treatments

Jack loves the freedom he has to play in his yard thanks to his DogWatch Hidden FenceFinally, it is important that dog owners also keep their lawns pet-friendly. As inviting and innocuous as they seem, lawns require maintenance that can create health hazards for your pet. Lawns that have been treated with nitrogen-rich fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides are unhealthy for your pets, as are such things as slug and snail bait. When walking in public parks with your dog, keep an eye out for cocoa mulch or toxic plants. Always walk your dog on a leash in public areas and avoid formal, manicured lawns that are likely to have been treated with a blend of chemicals.

We hope these tips will help you cultivate a beautiful garden AND raise a happy, healthy dog. Now get out there and enjoy Spring – you’ve earned it!

Image Credit, second from bottom: “Digging is one of Ralphy’s favorite things to do” by Shawn Kirton is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

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Posted in Challenges, Dog Behaviors, Gardening

Co-Branding: Adding a New Brand as an Expansion Strategy

Recently, we highlighted successful “Copreneurs” – couples who work together as DogWatch Dealers. The DogWatch Dealer team also includes many businesses that have added DogWatch Hidden Fences as part of a “co-branding” expansion strategy.


DogWatch dogsIn an article for Entrepreneur magazine, Jeff Elgin notes that the traditional methods of business expansion (e.g., selling more to the same customers, expanding geographically) are being supplanted by what he refers to as Synergistic Expansion. Elgin defines this as leveraging a business’ existing infrastructure, customers and staff to support growth that, “though not directly related to the current business….has some synergies.”

In a 2009 article Grow Your Business by Addition with Co-Branding, published by the US Business Journal, entrepreneur Todd Beckman refers to this type of expansion as co-branding. Beckman goes on to say:

“The key to successful brand add-ons is compatibility in both concept and operations. If you currently have a business, adding a new brand with compatible products and services allows you to increase the revenue you are currently receiving from your existing customers even as you increase your customer base through the attraction of the new brand.”

Outdoor Recreation Retailers

Dog on swing setOne successful example of DogWatch Dealer co-branding can be found among outdoor recreational retailers. Two such companies, Backyard Playworld in Omaha, Nebraska and Adventures Outback in Austin, Texas actively promote & install DogWatch Hidden Fences in addition to marketing residential and commercial playgrounds, basketball hoops and trampolines.

Jon Simons of Backyard Playworld, who also does business as DogWatch of Omaha, reports that his play set customers routinely inquire about and purchase DogWatch Hidden Fences. Conversely, pet-owners with a DogWatch fence often come back to purchase recreation products.

Tim Carter, owner of Adventures Outback and DogWatch of Austin-San Antonio puts it this way: “I’m already in the customer’s backyard for recreational installations. If a dog comes running out the door, I’ve just found another DogWatch customer!” Jon and Tim both maintain separate websites for their outdoor recreation and dog fence businesses. Both sites display prominent links to the other complimentary business.

Dog Boarding and Dog Training Businesses

Todd Vande Noord of DogWatch by Dog Pro KennelsOther dog-related businesses can also benefit from co-branding with DogWatch. Todd Vande Noord, operator of Dog Pro Kennels in De Soto, Iowa, has run a successful dog boarding and training business since 2001, and added DogWatch Hidden Fences to his service offerings in 2013. After learning more about DogWatch’s products and speaking with fellow kennel owner and Iowa DogWatch Dealer Rick Edington of DogWatch by Critter Camp, Todd decided that DogWatch was great way to extend his business and further serve his customers. He feels that his dog training experience is a selling point for his DogWatch customers, lending him credibility and helping make customers unfamiliar with hidden or “invisible” fences more comfortable when making the purchase and beginning the training process.

DogWatch has Dealership opportunities available in many markets that would make a great addition to an outdoor recreation retailer, dog boarding business, dog training business and many other businesses. Boise, Idaho; Evansville, Indiana; Reno-Tahoe, Nevada and Little Rock, Arkansas are a just few of the places where we’re looking for Dealers. A complete list of available markets can be viewed at http://www.dogwatch.com/become-a-dealer/become-a-dealer-overview

For more information on co-branding with DogWatch, contact Dennis Manitsas at 800-793-3436 extension 618 or dennis.manitsas@dogwatch.com.

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Posted in DogWatch Dealer Chat

Facts About Canine Influenza

Canine influenza, also known as dog flu, has been in the news lately, following an outbreak of the virus that has affected over 1000 dogs in the Chicago area, killing 5 dogs. Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) is a very contagious virus that began in horses before spreading to dogs.Dachshund on a blanket Canine influenza, caused by this virus, is not typically fatal, and with treatment, the dog can recover fully within a week to a month. However in most severe cases (less than 10% of dogs who contract it), CIV can lead to high fever, pneumonia and death. Similar to our previous post on Parvovirus, we have pulled together some facts about canine influenza, how it’s spread, symptoms and treatment.

How is canine influenza spread?

As mentioned above, CIV is very contagious, and can spread from dog to dog through shared food bowls, toys or even the air around them. As a result, outbreaks often occur in places where numerous dogs come in contact with each other, including kennels, dog day cares and dog parks. Even though it is highly contagious, CIV does not live long in the environment, so isolation of infected dogs and a thorough cleaning of the shared area can help limit its spread. (Note: According to the CDC, “there is no evidence of transmission of canine influenza virus from dogs to people.”)

What are the symptoms of canine influenza? How is it treated?

Symptoms of canine influenza include:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose, with a yellow-green discharge
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of Appetite
  • In rare cases, fever and onset of pneumonia

It may take up to 10 days after exposure to CIV for symptoms to manifest. Some of these symptoms are similar to bordetella or kennel cough, however canine influenza often results in a “more moist cough than bordetella’s dry cough.” If your dog develops these symptoms, a visit to vet is recommended as soon as possible.  The vet will also recommend that you keep your door indoors and away from other dogs until they can determine the cause and begin treatment.

Treatment of the milder form of canine influenza (again, this is the form that most cases take) includes rest, fluids and sometimes medication. The severe form often requires hospitalization. Again, dogs with canine influenza should be isolated from other dogs until they recover.

How can you prevent canine influenza?

“Preventing canine influenza or any other “kennel cough” relies on the same principles as humans trying to avoid the common cold,” writes veterinarian Dr. Ingrid Pyka. “Prevention depends on minimizing exposure to the virus.” This is not an easy thing to do, especially due to the fact that an infected dog may not show symptoms right away.

So should you avoid all possible hot spots like kennels, groomers and dog parks at all times? That doesn’t seem feasible, nor acccording to the AVMA, it is required, unless there is an established outbreak (like the one taking place in Chicago this month). The AVMA writes:

Dog owners should be aware that any situation that brings dogs together increases the risk of spread of communicable illnesses. Good infection control practices can reduce that risk, so dog owners involved in shows, sports, or other activities with their dogs or who board their dogs at kennels should ask whether respiratory disease has been a problem there, and whether the facility has a plan for isolating dogs that develop respiratory disease and for notifying owners if their dogs have been exposed to dogs with respiratory disease.

As long as good infection control practices are in place, pet owners should not be overly concerned about putting dogs in training facilities, dog parks, kennels, or other areas frequented by dogs.

There is also a canine influenza vaccine available, in addition to the “core” vaccines provided by your vet. Your vet may recommend this vaccine if your dog is at increased risk for the disease due to various factors (frequent kennel boarding, recent outbreak in the area, and others).

UPDATE: On April 12, 2015, researchers at Cornell University reported:

“The canine influenza outbreak afflicting more than 1,000 dogs in Chicago and other parts of the Midwest is caused by a different strain of the virus than was earlier assumed, according to laboratory scientists at Cornell University and the University of Wisconsin. Researchers at Cornell say results from additional testing indicate that the outbreak is being caused by a virus closely related to Asian strains of influenza A H3N2 viruses, currently in wide circulation in southern Chinese and South Korean dog populations since being identified in 2006.”

One key difference between the two strains is that H3N2 has caused infection and respiratory illness in cats. For more information about these new findings, read this article from Cornell University.

For more information about canine influenza, contact your veterinarian. To read more about canine influenza, its history and how it’s treated, here are some online resources:

Canine Influenza FAQs from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)

Key Facts about Canine Influenza (Dog Flu) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Canine Influenza Virus/Canine Flu article from ASPCA


Image Credit: “Hans” by Aaron Jacobs is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

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Posted in Dog Healthcare