Maybe I’ll name my next dog “Peeve”
Until then — until I have a real pet Peeve — I always have the other kind, more of them the older I get, it seems. Here is one of them:
Putting quotation marks around a dog’s name.
In a lot of the written word pertaining to dog, you’ll find quotes around a dog’s name — in books, in newspapers, in magazines, and in blogs, especially in blogs.
It makes no sense, it’s kind of insulting and — though I’ve probably thoughtlessly done it myself once or twice — it’s incorrect, or at least it should be.
You will see a sentence like this one: Smith’s dog, “Max,” graduated from obedience school.
But we don’t put human names in quotes. You don’t see: Smith said his brother, “John,” is a good guy, and, though he drools a lot for a human, he has never bitten anyone.
Were I a dog, I would find the practice patronizing. It’s like saying to Max (and most dogs do have human names nowadays), “OK, sure, you can call yourself ‘Max,’ or, more accurately, your owner can call you ‘Max,’ but, because you are a mere dog, we’re going to put quotes around it.”
A name’s a name — and of course it’s made up; all names are made up, whether they are legal monikers or not. We don’t even put quotes around celebrity names that are manufactured. It’s not “Prince” or “Seal,” or “Madonna,” or “Lady Gaga.” So why do some insist on doing it with “Fido,” “Rover,” and “Tinkerbell?”
Quotation marks can imply doubt, disbelief, cynicism; they’re like winking via punctuation; they can cast sarcastic aspersion on the validity of something, as if to say, “Yeah, right, we believe that.”
As in, Smith said the city council will take the matter “under advisement.”
There might be rare instances where it’s OK to use quotes around a dog’s name. Say Max gets lost, ends up in the shelter and is adopted by another family that names him Gus. Then the original owner shows up and wants “Max” back, but the family of “Gus” says no.
Because of the contention and doubt, one writing about the situation, to avoid taking sides, might want to resort to quotation marks, which would be preferable to the slash, as in Max/Gus. The slash, in addition to sounding violent, carries some Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde type connotations.
I’m not sure where the grammar police weigh in on quotes around dog names. I have an AP stylebook around here somewhere, out of date and dog-eared, but I can’t find it to see what the rules are, if there are any. (To my copy editor “friends” out there, tell me if you know.)
Meanwhile, I will continue to get a little mad — though not as mad as I get about, say, people who let their dogs die in the heat — every time I see it, which is often. And I quote:
According to Dr. Joshua Storm of Imperial Point Animal Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, the dog named “Popeye” suffered heat stroke on Tuesday, June 21st, while running next to a man on a bicycle …
Police said the pit bull, named “Haze,” was found barely breathing on Monday with a leather leash and lying in the open yard of the home…A shaded, screened in back porch where food and water were kept was out of reach for the tethered dog, police reported.
…a dog named “Pudsy” was being transported by railroad, and died from exposure to excessive heat. The owner sued the railroad and testified that the value of the dog exceeded $100,000 … This figure was based on the owner’s claims that the dog could give answers of problems in addition, subtraction, and division in any combination up to 20 by a number of barks.
In that last case, rather than saying “Pudsy” can do math, a better use of the quotes might have been, Pudsy can do “math.”
In any case, they’re everywhere. It’s as if there is a quote quota, and it doesn’t make sense, not an iota.
As a society, we’ve gotten a little carried away with the use of quotation marks. There’s a website that tracks this phenomenon, called unnecessaryquotes.com.
Here’s one of my favorite examples, though one could argue that it’s quite apt.
“Justice” is elusive. “Justice” is often a crapshoot. Sometimes “justice” isn’t what it appears. “Justice” deserves quotes. Dogs don’t, for they are what they are. My dog is Ace, not “Ace” — even if I can’t cite references to back up my stand.
Unable to find my AP stylebook, I went to the “Internet,” which is where one goes for so-called “facts” nowadays. At wiki.answers.com, someone had posed the question: “Do you put quotation marks around a dogs name when referring to him in a story?”
The “in-depth” answer: “No, you don’t.”
Can’t argue with that. Or can you?
There are those who are so “gaga” into animals rights that they would argue that the name we give a pet is not its true animal name, just something we humans bestow on them; or that giving animals names is “anthropomorphic;” or that naming an animal somehow compromises his or her naturally wild spirit.
Under that view, it could be argued that quotation marks around a dog’s name are appropriate.
But I’m guessing those people have trouble getting their dogs to come to them.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 13th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, dog, dog names, dogs, grammar, human names, justice, name, names, peeve, pet peeves, pets, punctuation, quotation marks, quotes, style, unnecessary quotes, writing