What’s In a Name?

How GDA’s puppies-in-training get their names

Before GDA’s volunteer puppy raisers receive their puppies, they are given the letter of the alphabet that was assigned to the litter by the Nursery Department the day the puppies were born and are asked to give the puppy a name that starts with that letter. All names are submitted to the Puppy Department for approval. A puppy cannot be given the same name as another puppy-in-training or of a working guide dog.

So what is in a name? We asked our puppy raisers to share with us how they choose the name of the puppy they are currently raising or most recently raised; here we share several of the many responses we received.

Five yellow labs

Members of Guide Dogs of America “A” litter in 2013. From left, puppies-in-training Abel, Archie, Alex, Acton, and Asia.

J We chose “Jovia” because it means “happy.” We were happy to foster her and we knew she would be happy living with us. — Jeannie and Judd Honadel
S “Sunshine” is my first GDA pup, and I was looking for a name that captured what that means to me. She brings sunshine into my life each day. I fervently hope that she will graduate and bring sunshine into the life of that very special person who becomes her partner. — Alison Adams
R “Roo” is named after the young kangaroo in the Winnie the Pooh stories. Our three young girls like any and all things Disney and they wanted to pick a Disney name. Roo seemed like the perfect fit. — The Ugoretz family
S “Siri” is the lady’s voice on the iPhone. You would trust her to get you safely to the nearest coffee shop or to a friend’s house. We thought it was a great name for a guide dog. — The Tabor Family
B When thinking of a “B” name, we all agreed that it had to be a unanimous decision. We all liked the simple name “Blue.” We dropped the “e” to emphasis the “u” sound. She picked up on her name very quickly and when people comment on what a good looking dog she is we say, “Yes, she’s a beautiful yellow, ‘Blu’ dog!” — The Helgeson Family
T My current puppy’s name is “Tagg.” He was named after and in memory of one of Guide Dogs of America’s stud dogs. The original Tagg sired many successful working guides and breeders and “little” Tagg is making him proud. — Laurel Schuman
A We happened to be having dinner at a Chinese restaurant. My wife, being a flight attendant, was flying to Tokyo and Shanghai. She looked across the table and saw me (I am of Korean descent). It all connected…. we named her “Asia.” She graduated in April and is now partnered with a wonderful woman. — Rob and Joanna Kim
S I grew up with boats and the name “Sailor” seemed appropriate because it will represent that he will be “navigating” in uncharted territories for his partner should he become a guide dog. — Jennifer Miller
F We chose the name “Faro” because in Spanish the word is used for such terms as beacon, lighthouse, headlight, and lantern… all things that provide guidance when you are in the dark. — Stacey Kindt
A We had a golden named “AU” — the symbol for “gold” in the periodic table of elements. Then we had a yellow lab we named “Mica,” meaning “fool’s gold.” When we found out we were getting a yellow lab we needed a name to go with the theme, and we named her “Amber.” — The Dilworth family
S We gave “Sherman” his name because we loved Peabody and Sherman when we were kids and we live in Sherman Oaks. — Denise Dexter Buckner
Q “Quest” is on a journey to become a guide dog. — Veda Overy
P The name “Pismo” came from one of my favorite vacation spots, and my two career change dogs at home have names that are beach/water themed. I thought it would be fun to have the ocean, an island and a beach at home. — Denise Brown
F Since I am a children’s librarian, my puppies are named after children’s or teen book characters. Our last puppy, “Francie,” was named after the main character in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. — Ann-Marie Biden
B/Q We are currently raising two puppies, “Bodie” and “Quorra.” Bodie was chosen because we have visited the town of Bodie and thought it was a good strong male name. Quorra was picked because it is an Italian name meaning “heart,” and we as puppy raisers raise these puppies from our hearts. — Lorry Rawding
T “Taesha” (pronounced TAe-sha) comes from a Latin word meaning “joy.” We knew she would fill our hearts and the hearts of everyone she comes in contact with joy and that she will bring joy to her future partner. — Joan and Dick Freiheit
V We live by the beach. We love the water and water sports. “Velzy” is named after a surfer from the ‘60s. — Georgann Gall and Kelly Byrne
P I knew I wanted an important name that would reflect her higher calling in life… it didn’t seem right to me to give a guide dog a common dog name, so I went to Wikipedia and found “Pallas,” the Greek goddess of wisdom. Perfect. — Sylvia White Gallery
N We named our puppy “Nelix” because we are Star Trek fans, and the Nelix character is very resourceful and smart, and is always helping people (just like our puppy will be doing). — Laura Paxson

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