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Always Give A Dog A Good Name

USAToday Spot is out and Max is in. In fact, in a recent survey of the 10 most popular dog names in the nation, names more fit for humans are finding favor over more traditional dog names like Buddy and Buster.

"Over 50 years ago, Spotty was common," says dog owner Eileen Watson of Hallandale Beach, Fla., who has had eight dogs over the past 40 years. "Now, I don't know of any dog that doesn't have a human name."

Top names among male dogs are Max, Buddy and Rocky. For females, Bella, Molly and Lucy head the list. The research was conducted by Veterinary Pet Insurance from the names of insured dogs in its database.

Dogs have long been considered man's best friend, but for many Americans, they mean even more than that.

"It's a reflection of the position that pets hold in a household," says Mary Thurston, an anthropologist in Austin who has studied dog history for more than 25 years. "They are integral members of the family, just like a child."

Naming dogs in the same fashion as children was common even in ancient Rome, she says. The ancient Egyptians often went so far as to bury their dogs in family plots. Today, dog owners are showing a similar kind of care...

My dog's name is Beauregard, named after General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard of the Confederacy who fought bravely at Shiloh and was victor at the First Battle of Bull Run. Nabokov once described an old dog as a "dignified slow-poke." And Tom T. Hall sang of "Old Dogs and Children and Watermelon Wine." Beau has entered his watermelon wine years. He's slowing down, but his astute and dignified manner is an inspiration. If I grow old with half the dignity he has, I'll be doing just fine.