How the Chihuahuas Got Their Names


Happy Friday, one and all! The WEEKEND is coming, SPRING is coming/here (I heard on the news that it is still technically winter in the morning but spring by evening, however that works), and it feels like just the right time for everyone’s favorite thing–PUPPIES!

Side note: I tried to research what percentage of the population actually prefer dogs, and the stats were all over the place. I did, however, find this interesting headline from National Geographic:

U.S. Pet Poll: Most Prefer Dogs, 18 Percent Want Dinosaur
A fifth would rather spend time with their pets than with people.

According to this article, 18% is also apparently the percentage of people who believe the Loch Ness monster is real, which seems a little coincidental to me. It’s kind of a fun article, so if you need a two-minute diversion this weekend, click over and find the answers to all life’s pressing questions (Are cat owners really weirder than dog owners?).

Anyhoo, Kathryn from Through the Thicket, who has four really exceptionally named cats herself, recently commented on the unusual/random names of my three chihuahuas–Fatty, Jellybeans, and Pepper–so I thought I’d share the stories of how Justin and I picked those names.


I sometimes wonder if people think we’re the rudest, most insensitive humans when they hear us calling our big ole squishy but infinitely charming pup a disparaging name like Fatty. What I always want people to know is that we did not intentionally name him this; the name was an accident, and whose fault that accident was will have to be something you decide for yourself. Here’s how it happened:

When we’d been dating a few months, Justin consulted me about the idea of getting a chihuahua puppy from his grandma’s new litter. I purposely did NOT help with this decision, mostly because I thought it wasn’t the right stage in our relationship for me to be advising on decisions that could affect him for years and years. I didn’t know at the time that Justin does exactly what he thinks and wouldn’t have gotten a dog just because I wanted it. And as it happened, I said nothing, and he got the dog anyway. But I wasn’t off the hook yet–he wanted me to name it. Justin already had a dog, an English Mastiff named Bilyeu, and he’d described to me the painstaking thought he put into choosing Bilyeu’s name. Luckily, I was in a Shakespeare class that semester and had the perfect name–Sir Toby Belch. But Justin didn’t like my perfect name and said he wouldn’t call the dog Toby, he’d call him “Sir.” After that ludicrous declaration, I went back to my strategy of non-engagement. I said, fine then, I won’t name the dog. He said, neither will I. The dog would remain nameless.

Then, one afternoon when I arrived at Justin’s house, the puppy came running toward me, and I said, “Come here, you little fatty!” In the absence of any other way to refer to him, we just kept calling him that, and that is honestly how Fatty got his name. For a year or two he was formally “Little Fatty,” but after he grew out of his puppyhood and legitimately got large (he is over 11 lbs–we tell people he is a variant breed called a King Chihuahua, and sometimes they believe it), he just became Fatty. And so he is.


Maybe we learned something from Fatty’s accidental naming, because we had Jellybeans’s name picked out years before we got her. I don’t know exactly where the name came from–all I remember is that we were discussing what we would name our future dog and testing out different food names when we thought of Jellybeans in a flash of inspiration. Whenever we looked at different puppies, we always asked the question, “Is this Jellybeans?” I eventually found her on some kind of a puppy board in North Carolina, and one night we drove an hour and a half out to Raleigh to pick her up at 11pm somewhere in the vicinity of an IHOP. (Now that I’m thinking about it, Pancakes would have made a damn good name, too).

After we got her, we found out pretty quickly that Jellybeans is a long name to call a dog, especially one like ours, who listens to no one and is constantly being yelled at or called after. I figured she’d probably be “Jelly” for short, which is also cute, but no–that is not how it ended up. Somehow “Beans” just felt more natural, and that eventually turned into “Beanie,” which is what we call her now.

People really do seem to find Jellybeans to be a strange name for a dog; I think it’s just about the best idea I ever had.


When we got her, this little pup already had a different name–Muffy. She was one and a half and had belonged to Justin’s grandma, who doesn’t get around too well. When we were visiting last Christmas, she told Justin that if he was still willing, she wanted him to take the dog. The “still willing” part threw me off a bit, because Justin had apparently expressed his initial willingness during a visit where I was not present. I was against it at the time, mostly because two chihuahuas seemed reasonable, but three seemed like the beginning of small herd. Also, we got Beanie because Fatty was so well behaved, but Beanie behaves terribly a lot of the time and actually taught Fatty some bad habits. I couldn’t imagine what we were in for with a third dog. As it so happens, Pepper is the world’s sweetest animal, and I fell in love with her immediately, so I’m more than happy to admit my total wrongness in this situation.

How she got the name Pepper, which is supposed to be the point of all this, is pretty straightforward. I wanted to rename her, so I basically just did a free association and called her whatever came to mind when I looked at her. She’s black and brindle, so eventually I happened to say Pepper, and that was that. Not too inspired. We call her Pep or Peppy for short, and one of her favorite things is to run around with wild abandon, so that fits her perfectly.

Here are a few more pics of these puppernutters to get your weekend started right:

Side note: “Puppernutter” is a play on “Fluffernutter” (a marshmallow cream/peanut butter sandwich and just a funny word) and also a word I made up to substitute for “crazy dog.” So there’s small glimpse into the depths of my weirdness.

IMG_3505 IMG_3725 IMG_3824_MG_7456

Do you have any pets? How did you name your dog/cat/mythical giant underwater reptile?


12 thoughts on “How the Chihuahuas Got Their Names

  1. Aww, they’re all so sweet ❤ I love Pepper's coloring! You might be able to tell, I have a soft spot for brindle-colored pups 🙂 I've always put a lot of consideration into naming my animals. I think that Panda still very much fits my cat, but I'm less sure that Rumi fits my dog. Still, 90% of the time we just call her 'Ru' and I think that fits much better!



    • I just love that you named your pets with references from literature and mythology. The names are adorable, but also impressive! Ha! It’s kind of a shot in the dark when you get an animal and don’t yet know what its personality will be. The nicknames you came up with are super cute, though, and I personally think you can never go wrong with a name from the classics!


  2. Well, Bella was a Christmas gift my senior year of high school. A lot of people who know me would poke fun saying I named her after the Twilight series (which could have been very plausible, because I was pretty into that series at the time). But, actually, I just sat there looking at her fuzzy, mousey looking face trying to discern what to name her. I came up with Isabella Marie (Marie after her mommy, of course). Isabel or Isabella seemed like a royal name. With her being my first pet ever, she was my number one. Seemed right. And now she definitely fits the bill. She’s a little snooty. She likes to bark at everyone and will bite if you do anything out of the ordinary. She always wants to be held. She gets special treatment. Sounds like royalty to me. haha


    • What a cute story! I never realized Bella was short for Isabella. That is definitely a big name for a little pup, but it sounds like she’s doing a fine job living up to it. You raised her right! 😉


  3. This was such a cute read. It’s always interesting to hear how pets got their names. Like Pepper, both my cats were pre-named. For some reason, even though they were kittens and I am sure their names were chosen rather arbitrarily by the woman who had cared for them before they made it into my home, I couldn’t bring myself to change their names so they just stuck. One is named Hexe, which means witch in German. The woman named her that because she said that she was a magical cat who really took care of herself from a very young age despite having no mother, so although it sounds like a mean name, it really isn’t. The other, Hummel, which means bumblebee in German, was named that because the woman thought she might grow up to be a forest cat and forest cats are super furry. She didn’t end up growing up to be a forest cat and is just a normal tabby, but she does buzz all the time so the name is still rather appropriate.

    Rae | love from berlin


    • Thanks, Rae! Hexe and Hummel are actually super cool names for cats! If the lady did pick the names arbitrarily, she still came up with some very impressive explanations for why she chose them, lol. I especially like the one about Hexe–it’s really neat to think about a cat being magical. It’s also kind of interesting that when the lady thought about something furry, a bumblebee is what came to mind; I think that would be one of the last things I’d think of. I can totally understand why you kept their names. They are so unique, and stories like those to go with them would be hard to beat!


  4. Oh, I am so sorry that I missed this! I’ve been having a bit of a weird relationship with the internet lately and I have been somewhat absent.

    I loved reading this though! And the pictures of these sweet little pups. I think that Fatty is best name – and it has a great story behind it. When I was growing up, we had a kitten that was originally named Fidget. But he was so bad and constantly getting into trouble, his name eventually shifted to become “Friggit” – I’ll leave the details up to your imagination 😉

    x Kathryn
    Through the Thicket


    • Never, ever apologize! It’s all good! I’m so glad you enjoyed this. It was fun for me, too, to go through all my favorite pictures of the pups. Fidget is such a cute name for a kitten! I think my mom once had a cat named Gidget, which was apparently some kind of 60s TV heroine. I can see how Fidget’s name could take a turn for the worse, lol. Thankfully he mostly stayed in the house, though. A few times I thought I might accidentally offend someone by yelling out “Fatty” in public places. 🙂


  5. Very cute… I know wierd people who love animals there is this guy in youtube Micheal in South Africa who has grown tigers and is living with them. First tiger is Enzo, second one liked its name Ozzy and another tiger cub he got recently as well. He did it because those tiger cubs could not be in the wild had come problem. I don’t have pets but was admirer of a three legged doggie, who lost its leg last year in a accident and some nice forks gave it shelter outside our apartment gate. It has a story and charactor unfortunately this year, its sad it got another accident and the forks who care for it said it has so many fractures that doctors say to kill it with injection instead of having it live in pain. I miss that dog a lot, I used to touch and feed it biscuits and stand and spend time with it, sometimes I even gone for a walk with it when I find it has limped far from home and urged it to come back home with me. Anyway… Your dogs are cute saw them sitting around on safo renovation blog as well.


    • Aww, that’s a terrible story about the little three-legged dog. Sorry to hear it didn’t have a happy ending. We have some neighborhood cats that we feed, and I would hate it if something happened to them. 😦


      • Yes… I think that 3 legged dog’s gone because when I see the lady who takes care of it in our flat she does not talk about it… I am hoping though its stupid a NGO called Voice of Stay dogs came forward to keep the dog, because if it had a place where it could rest for three or four months it would recover. That dog though well behaved is a outdoor dog that can’t sit inside home and that’s why the lady cannot keep it home it seems since it howls. I miss the dog a lot, that I even wrote a write up for it, but it cannot read and know that I was its fan. I guess that is life, that dog was my inspiration indeed on how brave and independent she was… anyway


      • How sweet that you wrote something for that little dog! Even though it couldn’t read it, I think dogs have a sense about these things, so it probably knew you were pulling for it. That’s what I like to think, anyway. 🙂


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