“The doctor is ready now. Baburao?” isn’t a sentence that seamlessly rolls off the tongue of the
front desk person
at veterinary offices. Particularly when they realise Baburao isn’t the name of the person bringing the pet, but an adorable pug. Not everyone names their dog after a
character, but the desi dog name is becoming more and more common. Among the endless stream of Bruno’s and Max’s, it’s not rare to find a German Shepherd named Gabbar or Yuvi, the indie pup. The desi dog name is no longer just an anomaly, but many are choosing them for their uniqueness and the sense of personality they give to their precious pooch.
AR Hemant, the Bengaluru-based pet parent of Baburao, says they were inspired by Paresh Rawal’s character in Hera Pheri. “You know the glasses he’s wearing, and how his mouth is perennially open in the movie? That would describe my dog. Pugs look like Paresh Rawal to me,” he says. “Normally when people hear it, they start laughing because it’s so unusual."
Rashi Narang, founder of Heads up for Tails, a pet care brand and store, says they have many customers with Indian dog names, with names like Gopi, Mishri and Gulabo being quite common. “It’s moving very quickly towards this, and I’m very rarely hearing of a
now. Even if your dog is named Bruno, we still hear conversations with people calling their dog ‘jaan’ or some sweet name like that.”
Vidha Shukla, founder of Lana Paws, a pet accessory company, says they’ve also noticed this trend. “More and more people are getting tired of the typical names. There has been an increased interest in Indian names over the last few years, though they did exist prior to that,” she says. Among the popular Indian dog names she’s come across, there seems to be a trend of cute, nickname-style names like babu, kaju or golu. There is a sense of familiarity and tenderness in these names, letting you know that the person the name belongs to is a family member.
That makes sense, because it isn’t just names that have evolved but also the way we see pets that has changed. There was a time when the family dog was meant to guard, and was even a status symbol of sorts. “Earlier people didn't pay much attention to names. The main purpose of keeping dogs was usually to guard their homes, so names like Kali, Moti and Brownie were common,” notes a representative from the Kryon Wisdom Centre, a pet boarding and training centre based in Mumbai.
Now, it’s all a lot more mushy and sweet – just look at the growing ubiquity of the term ‘pet parent’. “More and more people are now looking at their pet dogs as an extension to their family and are treating them so, which includes giving them cute nicknames that you would give to a family member,” Shukla says, adding that in a survey of pet parents across the country they ran, 90% said they considered their pet to be part of the family. Narang adds that when Heads Up for Tails began in 2008, it was common to see dogs living at the gate of the house, rather than in the home and as an integral part of one’s life.
Narang says, “Initially people had bigger guard dogs, but then there was an influx of smaller companion breeds, like the Shih Tzu and the pugs which made their way not just to our homes but our beds. That’s when people started giving dogs a chance to move away from caretakers of the home to being a companion. That same emotion started flowing to all dogs, irrespective or size or breed.”
Emma Kumudini Menda, a Mumbai-based Hindi teacher is the pet parent of a sweet indie named Masti. “My husband found him on the road when he was very young. When he came home, he would pee like a female dog would so we assumed he was a girl and named him Masti. By the time we realised he was a boy, he was already responding to the name,” Menda says. They also considered a few other names like Murphy or Mirchi, but Masti felt like the perfect name for their mischievous pup.
Another trend is the name that indicates something not only about the personality and preferences of the pet, but also their parent. Rosie Paul, Founder and Chief Operating Officer for Global Pet Consulting, that operates under the Brand name woofwoofnow, says “Dog names nowadays have become quite a ‘persona friendly’ to touch upon oneself, what one likes or dislikes. For example, I find dog names like
, Jalebi, wherein earlier we used to see Tommy or Jonny.”