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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Hoku dog name to da Max

 •  Table: O'ahu's most popular dog breeds and names

By Robbie Dingeman
Advertiser City Hall Writer

Call out "Max" or "Hoku" at the beach, and you may find more than one dog comes running. A few people may answer, too.

Kristi Oishi, 14, of Kaimuki, holds Hoku, the family dog, a 3-year-old Pomeranian, after an outing at the Bark Park near Diamond Head. The name appears to be popular because many feel their pets are the light of their lives.

Bruce Asato • The Honolulu Advertiser

Max is the top dog name for males, and Hoku is No. 1 for female dogs on O'ahu, as tracked by the city Department of Information Technology.

An analysis of the city dog database shows the influence of characters in popular culture. There are dogs named Lassie and Laddie, Benji, Eddie, Scooby Doo, Pooh Bear, Pongo, and suddenly this summer, Stitch.

There are more highbrow names: Aristotle, Amadeus, Winterberry and Zeus. (No Hokgets.) Cute names, such as Bandit-Diamond in the Ruff, Zachary Scooter McCormick.

And intriguing names, such as Walk Softly Cheyanne Sam, Calliope Drambuie Neat and Sir Hans of 'Aiea.

Of course, there are the food names: Ahi Poki, Tofu and Shortribs. Some names might take a moment to get: Diogi and Dioji. (D-O-G?). There's Princess Strudel of Kaahumanu, two dogs named Girlfriend and even one named Elvis Einstein Nunnari.

The city's dog data turns up 117 dogs named Kuma, which means bear in Japanese, and about 10 close variations.

No Hokgets here: Popular names for dogs

The most popular names for dogs on O'ahu for the year 2001, according to city license records:

For female dogs

  1. Hoku
  2. Lady
  3. Coco
  4. Princess
  5. Lani

For male dogs

  1. Max
  2. Koa
  3. Buddy
  4. Lucky
  5. Rocky

Source: City Dept. of Information Technology

Margie Rodrigues, who has been training dogs for 30 years, said dog names usually reflect owners' feelings about a dog's personality, as well as what's in vogue.

After Disney's "The Lion King" became a hit movie in the early 1990s, Rodrigues said, "everyone's dog names were Nala or Simba."

For Rodrigues, sometimes the plain names turn out to describe the sweetest dogs: "I just love 'Ralph' — I just know it's going to be a great dog." Rodrigues has a tall, slim Saluki with an Arabic name: Sahar.

At Makai Animal Clinic in Kailua, receptionist Lauren Carter sees a lot of dogs named Max or Buddy. Since she often sees sick or injured animals, she has an opinion on certain names. "We see animals named Lucky, they're not so lucky. I tell people not to name their animals Lucky," she said.

And she's heard some unusual ones: a cat named Stinkman. Sometimes it's hard to tell which name belongs to the owner and which to the animal. Other times it's pretty clear. "We have a woman with a Chihuahua named Lunch," Carter said.

The city data lists an Oddball, a Psycho and even a Wasabi. Carter said a lot of names come with a story. Her housemate's 9-year-old daughter named the cats at their house Honey and Sunny, even though Honey is male and isn't honey-colored. What was the girl thinking? "She likes to come home and say 'Honey, I'm home.'"

The data also lists breed, some more obvious than others.

Margie Rodrigues and Dr. Phillip Kau of the Animal Hospital of Hawaii check Gordon Morikawa's Jack Russell terrier puppies Yuki, left, and Lilly.

Bruce Asato • The Honolulu Advertiser

There are more mixed-breed dogs than purebreds, and some of the most popular breeds are Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, pit bulls, rottweilers, German shepherds, chihuahuas, Maltese and beagles.

Hawaiian Humane Society public relations director Eve Holt said people tend to prefer names that tap into their feeling about dogs as strong, loyal companions.

" 'Max' has that connotation of strength and trustworthiness," Holt said. And even the Hawaiian names reflect people's fondness for their pets. " 'Hoku' — it's star and it's the light of their life."

The female top 10 includes old-fashioned favorites such as Lady, Daisy, Ginger — names that reflect companionship and would likely have headed the list 30 or 50 years ago. "We all know that animals give us that lasting unconditional love," Holt said.

As for long-term trends, Holt said the shift has been away from the obvious. "I think the trend has been to more 'people' names instead of things like Spot."

Olivia and Julianne Noh, 12, hold their dogs Pepper, a mixed Labrador, and Tommy, a Pomeranian, at the Hawaiian Humane Society park.

Bruce Asato • The Honolulu Advertiser

She said the humane society keeps a dog's name, but if it is unknown they try to come up with one that fits the dog's personality, so families get an idea of who's going home with them.

"Sometimes a sweet-looking dog will be a rascal, or a tough dog will be a pushover," she said.

State law requires that dogs be licensed. As of last year, there were 34,167 dogs registered in Honolulu, slightly more female (17,475) than male (16,538). And there are 42,270 dogs on O'ahu who have had a microchip implanted to make it easier to find their owners.

That's actually fewer than half the dogs out there, said Pamela Burns, president and chief executive officer of the Hawaiian Humane Society. Burns said the society estimates that 37 percent of O'ahu households have a dog, putting the actual number at about 102,500.

On O'ahu, it costs $10 for a dog license for animals four through seven months old and for neutered dogs.

The license costs $28.50 for unneutered dogs eight months and older. Licenses must be renewed every two years. Cats do not have to be licensed.

Reach Robbie Dingeman at rdingeman@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8070.

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