What's in a name?


Stories about pet names help you keep track and give veterinary clients a chance to share why this particular pet is so beloved.

Editor's note: This new monthly column by Dr. Marty Becker explores the ways that today's veterinarian can strengthen the client-patient-doctor bond.

When you first meet new clients over the exam table, do you give a moment's thought to the name of their pets? I do, and so should you.

It's not just because you'll find the stories behind the names sweet, funny, and heartwarming—which they often are. When you ask the story behind a pet's name, you're putting it right up front that you're the kind of person who finds people and their pets valuable and interesting, and who cares enough to find out more about them.

No matter how tired, stressed or distracted I get, I always brighten when someone pulls out a picture of a pet. And it happens everywhere—in TV show green rooms, in exam rooms, in airports, and in planes. Victoria's Secret models, reality TV contestants, authors, movie stars, and politicians all volunteer stories and pictures about their pets when they know a veterinarian's listening.

"What's the story behind your pet's name?" I ask, and I lean in for the answer.

I've heard some great ones too—from "11:30" (for the cat not dark enough to be Midnight) to Riley (as in "Life of," for a former shelter dog). A cat named Laptop, MC Hamster, and Spark Pug for, well, you can guess. And what about Brother? Three girls in a family, always wanted a brother, and with the dog, they got one.

When you combine the name with the story, each pet is as unique as DNA.

Ask your clients! I promise you'll be glad you did. Especially when you see that pet owner at the grocery store, can't remember the person's name, but the pet's name and story dial-up instantly.

Dr. Marty Becker is a popular speaker and author of more than 22 top-selling books, including The Healing Power of Pets. He is the resident veterinarian on Good Morning America, a regular guest on The Dr. Oz Show, and the lead veterinary contributor to www.VetStreet.com. Dr. Becker practices at North Idaho Animal Hospital in Sandpoint, Idaho and Lakewood Animal Hospital in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

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