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what's in a name?
by Nedda Wittels
April, 2015.

Can changing a name transform an "Ugly Ducking" into a "Swan"?

Our self-image influences our feelings and behaviors.

Do animals like the names we give them?

Does what we call them affect their self image?   Their behavior?

What's the best way to choose a name for a new animal in your family?



A dog named "Shadow" was shy and insecure.  I soon realized his shyness was connected to his name.  He was "afraid of his shadow", so to speak.  He want to be called "Thunder", a name he associated with strength and bravery.

In this case, changing the dogs name didn't immediately result in a change in the dog's behavior.  Sometimes, when our self-image is damaged, it takes additional work to make the shift.  But that didn't prove to be true for other animals when they got the name they wanted.



A cat named "Crackers" rarely groomed herself and seemed generally unhappy.  She lived in the barn where Echo lived and where I did the morning chores for all the horses.

One day, feeling playful, I spoke to Crackers aloud.  "Hi, Beautiful!" I said, doing a poor imitation of Humphrey Bogart. 

Her eyes got big with amazement.  Did I really think she was beautiful? 

"Yes," I told her.  "You are really quite gorgeous." 

Now she sat taller and prouder than I had ever seen her.  "Miss Beautiful" became my name for her and for the first time, we became friends.


DEVIL becomes JOE

Sometimes it's really obvious what name suits an animal, but other times we can be fooled by an animal's behavior. 

I once worked with a horse named "Devil" because he was so difficult to ride.  When I asked him what the problem was, the first thing he told me was that he hated his name.  He felt he had to live up to it by misbehaving, and that people didn't like him because of it. 

"I want to be called 'Joe'," he said, a name he found soothing and peaceful.

Joe's energy field was full of static and very uncomfortable.  After a few  healing sessions to quiet, balance, and clear his energy field, and after persuading the people to change his barn name, Joe became happier and more grounded.  He also became more cooperative and started doing well in training and competitions.



A stray cat that a client had found and captured showed me a picture of himself standing on his hind feet in tall grass, pawing at a butterfly.  This was his "name".  He told me Dancing Paws would work as an English equivalent.  



My cat Violet told me her name even before I set eyes on her.  And she responded to it, too.  I didn't have to teach her the name because it already was her name. 

Dogs can be taught to come to nearly any name, but cats, being cats, will only come to a name that suits them  -- or a call for dinner.



If you're not sure about naming a new animal, here are some tips on how to discover a name the animal likes.

  •  Sit quietly with pen and paper handy.

  •  Close you eyes and take several deep breaths.

  •  Picture your animal in your mind or remember what it feels like to pet them.

  •  Silently, ask your animal, "What name would you preferred to be called?"

  •  Wait patiently for a response and then start writing.

    • If you hear a name, write it down.

    • If you see a picture, describe it as best you can and focus on the aspects of the picture you are drawn to.

    • If you feel a physical sensation or emotion, write it down.

  •  Finally, ask your animal to confirm the name or word or phrase that seems to be the correct name by calling the animal that name.

Usually, if you have the "right" name, the animal will respond in some way -- look in your eyes, blink, or even come towards you.

If you don't succeed on your first try, try again.  You can use variations on the name you tried.  You can also ask your animal to send you more information that will help you find the name the animal prefers.

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