Only after looking at alternate spellings for each of the two most popular licensed dog names in Needham does it become clear exactly who is fetching whom.
Under traditional spelling, Bailey and Lucy are in a dead heat at 41 dogs for the most common name given to “man’s best friend” among the 2,664 licensed dogs at the town clerk’s office.
However, with four creative spellings for Bailey (Bailee, Baily, Baylee and Bayley) compared to two for Lucy (Luci and Lucy Lynne), Bailey claims the title as Needham’s top dog.
The third most popular name is Molly with 34, followed by Daisy with 29, Max with 26, Brady and Buddy tied with 25, Bella with 24, Charlie with 23, and rounding up the top 10 are Jake and Maggie knotted up with 21.
Local sports teams – namely the Boston Red Sox and the New England Patriots – are well-represented.
There are six dogs named Fenway, two called Sox, a Beckett, two Jacobys, a Papi and three named Wally.
For the Patriots, besides the 25 dogs named Brady, there are three called Bruschi and a non-team-specific, Football.
There are 2,707 dogs registered in Newton, 2,701 in Wellesley, 2,555 in Natick and 1,876 in Waltham, according to records from each of the town clerk’s offices.
Bailey, Lucy, Max and are in the top 10 for all five communities and in the top 10 nationwide. Daisy and Maggie are also in the top 10 nationally and are in the top 10 in every town but Waltham.
The country’s most popular dog – and cat – name last year was Max, according to Calif.-based Veterinary Pet Insurance, which analyzed its database of more than 466,000 insured pets to find the most popular dog names of 2008.
Overall, the pet insurance company’s data indicates that classic pet names, such as Fido, have taken a back seat to "people names,” like Max.
In fact, some of the most popular dog names - Bella, Chloe, Sophie and Bailey - also rank among the Social Security Administration's most popular baby names.
South of Boston, the most popular dog names in Scituate and Hingham combined, also from a previous Globe story, are Sam (or Samantha, Sammy, and other variations), followed by Max, Lucy, Lily and Bailey.
Globe correspondent Ben Terris and staff reporter Matt Carroll contributed to this report.