Dog tags

An informal survey of favorite names

Dog walker Nancy Pickwick at her home in Scituate with Peaches the puppy. Dog walker Nancy Pickwick at her home in Scituate with Peaches the puppy. (Jonathan Wiggs/ Globe Staff)
By Matt Carroll
Globe Staff / August 16, 2009

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Minot Beach in Scituate is a slice of dog heaven.

The sandy beach is flat and wide at low tide, perfect for a canine romp with a chewed-up tennis ball or a few friends. After 6 p.m., a large number of dogs, with their owners, come out to play.

That’s a good time to hear stories about how the dogs got their names. It also gave dog owners a chance to take a guess at the most popular dog names.

The Globe obtained databases of dog names from Scituate and Hingham, figuring they would be roughly similar to the most popular dog names in other suburban communities in the area.

The winning names in the two communities are shown at right, but in the race for the top spot, Sam beat Max by a wet nose - 51 to 50.

Many of these handles showed up in a similar check two years ago on the most popular dog names in Brockton and Quincy. There, the top five were Max, Buddy, Bailey, Molly, and Rocky. This year, a look at the records in Newton and Wellesley showed that Lucy, Maggie, and Bailey were among the most popular names there.

On the beach, Bonnie Campbell was throwing a ball nonstop for Sammy, a yellow lab. “I’m baby-sitting him for my daughter,’’ she explained. “The dog has been playing for six hours. He’ll chase anything.’’ Including loose balls in neighbors’ yards, which can be a bit of a problem.

The Scituate resident is not sure where the dog got the name. “It’s a guy’s name for a girl dog,’’ she said.

Polly Ulichny and Bruce Fraser of Scituate were out with their golden retriever, Grady, who was frolicking in the surf. The naming process is a little hazy now, but they agree that the husband’s idea for McDuff was shot down, as was Brady. “We didn’t want people thinking we named it after the quarterback,’’ said Ulichny. “Not that we don’t like him.’’

(Other sports fans don’t worry so much: A number of owners have dogs named Brady, Bruschi, and Fenway.)

Bob Monahan, out with a black lab named Louie, said his dog’s name was his wife’s idea.

“I wanted it to be called Ace. My wife wanted it named Louie, after her grandfather,’’ said Monahan, keeping a close eye on blond-haired son Denny, age 3 “I said, ‘Well, if you pick Louie, you’re responsible for the dog.’ ’’

But who was out walking it?

“Yeah, that’s the joke,’’ he added.

Other dogs got their names in a more roundabout way. Take Sgt. Pepper. Linda Garafolo was walking the dog, which is owned by her daughter. The naming came about something like this: The dog was salt-and-pepper, the daughter was out of state and lonesome, which led to thoughts of the Beatles’ album about the Lonely Hearts Club Band and . . . you get the idea.

Another popular spot for dog walkers is Wompatuck State Park in Hingham. James O’Neill and his two dogs took their exercise there recently, as they do nearly every day, warding off clouds of mosquitoes.

Buck, a 10-year-old, got its name because the dog was found wandering as a puppy on Buckman Road. And Sammie - short for Samantha - was named by a previous owner, he said.

Peter Asnes of Hanover had his hands full with 2-year-old son Jacob in a stroller and 13-week-old Graham on a leash. Graham was named after a dragon in a children’s book, although Asnes couldn’t remember which one.

Sometimes, people go against the grain when choosing a name. Treasa Downey, director at the Scituate Animal Shelter, admits that she sometimes names dogs against stereotype. For instance, when an unnamed pitbull came in recently, she named it “Sunshine.’’

“If you give it a cutesy name, it gives people a warm feeling,’’ said Downey, who was quick to add that the dog is “very sweet.’’

It’s not always the animals that have the most interesting names. Leslie Badger, the animal control officer in Hingham, has the distinction of working with animals while possessing the name of one.

“Everyone asks about that,’’ she said. “I love animals, and you can’t get a better name.’’

For the past week, visitors to the Globe’s hyperlocal websites have been going online to choose the dog names that they think are most popular in their towns. Go to or to see the results.

Matt Carroll, who owns a cat named Tiger, can be reached at

The most popular dog names in

Scituate and Hingham:

1. Sam (Samantha, Sammy, and other variations)

2. Max 3. Lucy 4. Lily 5. Bailey 6. Buddy

7. Maggie 8. Mollie 9. Riley 10. Coco