My friend Annette is the first client I ever had.

She’s out in Arizona now, and she adopted a dog a few months ago who has turned out to be a handful. His name is Duke, and that’s the name he came with. I had a few sessions with him early on, and he’d settle down for a bit, but it never seemed to stick. Terrifying the cat, leaping over the gate and escaping, generally turning the household upside down. Annette hired a trainer, which was a good idea since the communication wasn’t enough to settle him down. Lots of great ideas, which met with a mixed response from Duke. So, Annette asked me to check in and see how he feels about the training. We set up an appointment, and all day before our phone call I kept getting this message that Duke needs a different name, that his name was too macho, and a contributing factor to his behavior. I was thinking of Teddy, something softer, like that. Annette says “How about Bennie? That was my Dad’s name.”

Well, we hung up the phone, and she texted me a few minutes later. She was in the kitchen and she called out “Bennie!, and doesn’t he come right to her from the living room! “Duke” had never been called Bennie before, yet he answered to it right away! She’s told me that the name change has resulted in changes in his behavior.