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Ask Amy Shojai: Cat Clawing & H...
Ask Amy Shojai: Cat Clawing & How to Train
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Woof Wednesday: Name That Dog!

by | Jun 13, 2012 | Dog Training & Care, Writing Advice & More | 22 comments

Uschi with toy
Some of y’all know that my debut thriller LOST AND FOUND will be published this fall. Last night I sent back edits to my publisher and now we’re working on cover design. It’s a challenge because–well–it has to be right!

Why do I talk about thriller fiction in a Woof Wednesday blog? Because a main character in the book is Shadow, a nine-month-old German shepherd being trained as a service dog for a young boy. Like most authors, I truly KNOW what my characters look like, how they talk and act, and what they feel.

Even Shadow, the dog. Especially Shadow. He is, in fact, one of my viewpoint characters. At a recent writer’s seminar on pitching (a shorthand way of describing the book) I described the book like this:

“In LOST AND FOUND an animal behaviorist and service dog must find an autistic child lost in a blizzard in this adult thriller with the medical tension of Robin Cook and the heart of The Art of Racing In the Rain.”

Hey, I can dream that readers will agree!

Meanwhile, tomorrow I have a photo shoot with a potential cover-dog model for the book. You see, many of the stock photos available of German shepherds either aren’t the right color (black) or the wrong age. And nope, Magical-Dawg is too big/mature for the right look (shhhh, don’t say that out loud or you’ll hurt his doggy feelings!) but one of his relatives might have the right look. Get a load of this gorgeous GSD, already with a tracking dog title at 6 months old, wow!
Chew toy

My blog followers, Facebook friends, nonfiction book readers and pet writing colleagues have been so much a part of this fiction journey, I want to include YOU in the book, too. Shadow is already a main character in the story. But there is a second tracking dog featured, as well several other “relatives” of that canine that are mentioned.

I’d like to give y’all the opportunity to name those dog characters–name them after YOUR furry wonder, for instance, or a beloved pet that has passed on, or a friend’s dog or even a human relative–your choice. Many of y’all already subscribe to my Pet Peeves newsletter, which hasn’t gone out in a while due to other deadlines 🙂 . I’ll post a reminder in the next several blogs about this to subscribe to the newsletter for your chance to NAME THAT DOG in the forthcoming Lost And Found thriller.

Those who win the naming opportunity will also receive a free copy of the book, and a mention in the acknowledgements. Oh, and let me know in the comments–have you ever won a similar “naming” contest? How’d that work out? I know that the Thrillerfest folks auction off naming characters as ways to raise funds for charity but this time around, I want it to be free–and fun for you, too. How should I pick the winner? Please weigh in with your thoughts.


Here’s how I’ve decided to choose the winner(s). Depending on the response, I will select (random drawing) 10-15 dog names and 10-15 cat names, and YOU WILL VOTE (get your friends to campaign for you!) to select the final names to appear in the book.

Those who win the naming will not only get furry bragging rights, and an ADVANCE FREE COPY of the book, but also an acknowledgement in the book itself with a tidbit about your pet who shares that name. Sound good? Be sure to post your suggested name asap–I’ll need to send final edits to my editor probably by the end of July!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter for your chance to NAME THAT DOG character in the forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND, and pet book give-aways!


  1. catchatcaren

    I would name the doggy “Dakota” I have always loved that name and it is the name of our Sheltie in my Avatar photo. “Dakota” means “trusted friend”

    • amyshojai

      I never knew that’s what “Dakota” meant, how neat! Thanks for the suggestion. (adding to the list…)

  2. Natalie Hartford

    Well of course I’m going to suggest Tess after my own gorgeous furdaughter!! LOL! I can’t WAIT to read the book Amy…so exciting!!! Have fun with the cover photo shoot – can’t wait to see how it all turns out. squeeee!!!

    • amyshojai

      Gee, why am I not surprised? 🙂 The photo shoot was a blast–both the dog and I ended up wet and muddy (it rained last night) but I got about 80 shots and just sent off 8 of those for possible cover images.

  3. Raelyn Barclay

    I’ve heard of authors doing naming contests before but haven’t actually seen one or know how they worked out. Sounds like fun though, good luck! Love that the book has a dog MC, of course, with this blog how could it be anything else 😀

    Names, names…let’s see…Tiffany, Caesar (my childhood Shepard), Lord Groaner (long story behind that one), Duchess, Pumpkin, Morgan, Clyde, Danielle, Arianna, Sebastian, Tobias, Nathan, Bruno, Buddy Austin, Makitah, and, of course, there’s Beastie Girl aka Roxy. Looking over that list I realize the dogs we named ourselves had human names (with the exception of Groaner) while the dogs that came to us already named didn’t (with the exception of Roxy). I wonder what that says about us, LOL.

    Have fun at the photo shoot! Can’t wait for the cover reveal and book release. Congrats Amy!

    • amyshojai

      Hey Raelyn, you’ve named a whole pack-o’-canines, LOL! I really want to hear the story about Lord Groaner and also Beastie Girl. *s* My mom had a dog when she was a child named “Kitty” so when you called “here Kitty Kitty” this big ‘ol pooch came galumphing up.

      • Raelyn Barclay

        LOL, and I realized I forgot Sitka 🙂

        Beastie Girl is more of her online moniker. I call my boys the wee beasties and Beastie Girl developed from that. Her name is Roxy.

        Lord Groaner…he was a Heinz 57 that adopted us. He arrived one afternoon, we actually mistook him for another dog who’d visit, so we brought him inside to call the owner when we realized he was a HE not a SHE. By the time my father arrived home from work the dog was firmly a member of the family to the point it took us girls a lot of convincing him Dad belonged, LOL.

        He groaned when he sat, when he laid down, when he got up, he even groaned when he was happy much like a cat purrs. He was only 2 or 3 when he showed up so it wasn’t age. And he sang, whenever music came on or someone played the piano, he could actually carry a tune! So Groaner became his name. But it was so undignified we added Lord to it 😀

        He was a fabulous dog for over ten years.

        • amyshojai

          Awww…our last doggie was also a groaner. Magical-dawg is a singer but he’s not very tuneful (don’t tell him, that would hurt his feelings!).

  4. Brenda

    The name Fredo just literally popped into my mind — maybe to give the name a more positive connotation than those of us who were viewers of a certain 1972 thriller have.

    Yes, I have won naming contests in the past. Loved the opportunity. Can’t wait to read the books.

    • amyshojai

      Ohhhh, Fredo, nice! (scribbling on list…). I have to figure out how to choose–goldfish bowl drawing? Hmnnn.

  5. Jenny Hansen

    Well, you know I think there should be a Hoshi…

    One thing – I think this blog fell off the Triberr feed – have you checked it lately?

    • amyshojai

      Hoshi, of course!

      Will check with Triberr but I thought it was on the feed. May have to kick it in the ass-ets to re-start. Thanks for the suggestion. I’m seeing the stuff there as of yesterday.

  6. Karyl Cunningham

    Of course, I have to throw our old beagle Jodi’s name into the hat. She may not have gone looking for just anybody, but I bet you if one of the family had gotten lost, she would’ve kept hunting till she found us. I KNOW I’ve told you all about her before. 🙂

    Of course, there’s also my uncle’s old mini Aussie, Maggie, who we all loved. Though trying to imagine her as a search and rescue dog is funny. She was smart, sure, but her attention span lasted about as long as it took for something else interesting to move in her field of vision. LOL

    Never won a naming contest, no. Have won a fan fiction contest though. 🙂 Got free books from that one, and the giddy fangirly joy that the author, publisher, and cover artist liked my writing.

    • amyshojai

      Jodi, of course! Yes, you’ve written about her before, and beagles are all about hunting…rabbits, squirrels, FOOD! LOL! Maggie, I like that as a doggy name. I once won a free book from an author, too, and there’s nothing like fangirl joy, is there?

  7. August McLaughlin

    What a sweet contest! I’d love to add my furry counterpart, Zoe, to the mix. If you can name a deaf American bulldog Zoe, even better. LOL

    As far as picking the name, hmm… I’d say, go with your gut.

    Congrats on your book! So excited for you, and can’t wait to read it.

    • amyshojai

      Thank you August! Zoe…is Zoe white, by chance? Love those Am bulldogs!

  8. Carol Shenold

    Jasper needs an online mention. He’d love to be in a book of yours. Have fun with the contest. Carol

    • amyshojai

      I wondered when Jasper, Punky and Poppi would join the list! Chaos, now that is a CAT name!

  9. Patricia

    I haven’t won any sort of naming contest but would like to suggest Taffy and Princess Muffin for the dog names. Taffy was my dog when I was a child, she was a Heinz 57 but so loving. Princess Muffin was my neighbor’s dog but I think she stayed at my house more than she did next door. She was part Lab and blonde colored and loved water like Magical-Dawg does. Thanks for letting us be part of this contest. Can’t wait for the book!

    • amyshojai

      Hi Patricia, I’ve added the names to the list! Taffy and Princess Muffin sound like they were wonderful canine friends.


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