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I have a confession to make. I don’t like when pets have people names. I mean, some of them kind of work, like Max or Butch or Millie. But some just seem ridiculous, like Zach, Zoey, Chloe, or Edward.

Feel free to disagree with me. In fact, go ahead and make fun of me—here’s my second confession: I name all my dogs for characters or places from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Naming a new puppy is serious business. Our new puppy has had no fewer than five—possibly six—names in his short life. After his rescue in the Cayman Islands, he was given the name “Ivan.” Upon arrival in New York, he was christened “Cadbury.” A kind of clever name, I think, since his coat is caramel and dark black/brown. He was then adopted out to a family with small children who—after school began—decided that they couldn’t manage a new puppy and the needs of their five young children—they may also have named him, we don’t know for sure.

When we rescued poor Cadbury from the humane society, he became subject to my family’s obsession with naming our pets for LOTR characters and places, etc. We’ve had a “Brandy” (the Brandywine River), a “Ranger” (his papers said “Aragorn, Ranger of the North”), a “Took,” and we currently have a “Bree.”

For Cadbury, I wanted “Beorn” or “Bear” (after the character from Tolkien’s Hobbit), but we decided that those names were too similar to Bree. When my husband suggested “Strider” (the name given to Aragorn when he is introduced to Frodo by the innkeeper in Fellowship of the Ring) I thought “Perfect! The puppy has such long legs.”  But after a couple of days, it just didn’t seem right.

So, we whipped out our printed copy of The Tolkien Companion. It didn’t take long for my hubby to find the perfect moniker.



brego 4

Brego! Kingly, wild, smart, loving – the perfect pound puppy.

Yes, yes, I know—it starts with “Br” just like Bree, but it’s him. He is Brego.

Here’s the etymology of the word/name:  Brego means “chief, leader, king, lord” in Old English, which Tolkien used to represent Rohirric in his works. In the history of Middle Earth, Brego was the second king of Rohan. Also, in Peter Jackson’s film trilogy, Brego is the name of a horse ridden by Theodred, the king of Rohan’s son. After Theodred dies, Aragorn advises releasing the traumatized horse who has “seen enough of war.” Later, Brego finds Aragorn after his fall from a cliff and carries him to Helm’s Deep. Read more about Brego on this great site.

Naming a pet is a like naming a main character in fiction writing. The name is going to be with you for a long, long time—through many edits and plot convolutions. You should make sure you like it, make sure it fits “personality-wise,” and make sure you don’t mind saying it and writing it over and over again. This is no joke. In the case of a dog (or MC), you might find that you say (or type) the name fifty times a day.

Wherever you find inspiration for character names—graveyards, historical records, mythology, fairy tales, baby name books, news sites—choose wisely. Names have power.

Read other thoughts I’ve previously shared on naming characters.