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.

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


Sunday Style: Foxy Ladies

A couple months ago I heard on an Animal Planet special that Chihuahuas might have descended from foxes instead of wolves, and this has been my favorite factoid ever since. So naturally, when I wore this fox sweater, I had to take one of my tiny foxes out as an accessory.

Even though she loves to go on walks, Pepper gets super uncooperative whenever a camera is pointed in her direction. Sometimes she looks away exactly the moment the picture is taken.


Or tries to inconspicuously hide behind whatever’s available.


Yep, she’s sly like a fox all right. Plus, look at her–the snout, the ears, the intense predatory eyes (in this case probably fixed on a leaf)–the resemblance is there.


As far as my style goes, I really need to get with the program and learn to hem my own jeans. Being on the short side (I’m 5’3″), I do a lot of ankle rolling, but I still sometimes contend with bunchy knees and/or ankles, and it’s not too cute. Even though I’ve hemmed other pants before, the small leg opening on skinny jeans intimidates me. It’s probably time to break out the pairs I’ve ruined with paint through the years (despite Justin warning me many times not to paint in my regular clothes), do some practicing, and figure it out. Maybe if I use them to teach myself a new skill, I can at least say it wasn’t a total waste.


Even Pepper thinks I need to do something about my pant length situation. She’s like, “You got those things rolled again? Come on, lady.”

Lucky Dog! Fatty is 7

Fatty was my first dog. Growing up, my dad was allergic to furry things; he told us the only kind of pet we could have was a camel. My dad knows more about the hypoallergenic properties of desert animals than most people, apparently. We did have some indoor/outdoor cats through the years, as well as some hamsters and a guinea pig, but never a dog. In fact, I was pretty afraid of dogs for most of my childhood/adolescent years.

When I met Justin, he had a 160-lb English Mastiff named Bilyeu who was way too sweet and goofy to be afraid of for long, but Bilyeu was never my dog. He only listened to Justin and liked to make a fool of me when I took him on walks. Fatty was the first dog that was mine–that I had as puppy, that I named (I did a great job, eh?), that I could take care of as better than anyone else, and that loved me as only your own dog can.

You can’t do enough good in the world to deserve a dog like Fatty. He’s just the funniest, handsomest, most loveable dog there is. Since puppyhood, Fatty’s been known for being super awkward in social situations, but that’s part of his charm. He’s also been voted best smile for 7 years running (you’ll see why below)!

Here are a few of my favorite Fatty pictures throughout the years.

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A lot of these pictures are not super high quality, but they’re basically our old family photos, and being blurry and chaotic is what makes old family photos wonderful and special. Part of what makes Fatty special, too, is that he’s been with us since wayyyy before we had a nice camera. He’s been with us through everything–our first year together, moving from Missouri to North Carolina, three years as grad school ragamuffins living life on a Wal-Mart futon, moving back to Missouri, his two sisters joining the ranks (I know he’s thankful for that daily), and more houses and apartments than he can count.

Happy 7th birthday, Fatty! Glad we’re the lucky dogs who get to be your owners.