Have you ever wondered what is involved in the naming of a service dog? After all, these incredible canines are not just pets – they are a tool used by individuals to enable them to live a relatively normal, independent life. These dogs signify freedom, confidence and hope.

Each service dog trained at Highland Canine is unique in the regard that their training is customized exactly to the individual they will be serving. Just as each service dog is unique, their name must be equally as unique and special as they are.

Over the years, Highland Canine has worked with countless service dogs: selecting them, training them, testing them and placing them with their forever family. We provide our service dogs with a name prior to meeting their human, and this name is either chosen by us or inspired by others through social media. Sometimes, however, their family chooses to change this name to something more personal.

Below you will find nine inspirational, adorable and heart-warming accounts of Highland Canine service dogs and the name which defined their destiny.

1. Merlin, the service dog puppy originally called Theodorable

autism service dog with teenage handler

As a service dog puppy in training, little Theo quickly became know as “Theodorable” by all his Highland Canine trainers. However, when he was matched with Pierce, who was fascinated with magic and wizards, he developed a new name. Pierce always dreamed of being a wizard and knew that his partner needed to have a “magical” name. Theodorable was appropriately renamed Merlin, and the two have been creating magic together ever since. Neither of them would have it any other way!

2. Darth, the autism service dog with a destiny

autism service dog meeting child

Dudley was the name that Highland Canine originally called him – until he was matched with a young boy named Haydan. Haydan is a massive Star Wars fan and had named his original dog, a white Goldendoodle, Storm Trooper (aka Trooper). In order to maintain the theme, Haydan requested that “Dudley” would be changed to “Darth” because “he [would be] super powerful and strong like the dark side of the force.” Additionally, when asked why he didn’t want to name him Darth Vader, Haydan was quick to let us know that it was so Darth could be any of the Sith lords.

3. Blaze, the service dog who had the same name as his human

young adult service dog owner

Our service dog Blake ironically had the very same name as the human he was matched with! Blake, being the teen boy he is, thought it would be wonderful if he could send his dog in his place when his mother called for him. But, as “Blake” and “Blake” would be confusing for the entire family, Blake’s parents insisted that their son change his dog’s name. The name “Blaze” was chosen after a brief discussion based around how difficult it would be to call the correct “Blake.” This dream team is definitely made-to-be.

4. Nyx, the autism service dog renamed Charkie

meeting between autism service dog and child

Brady and Ethan, Nyx’s boys, are serious Curious George fans. When the boys’ family received photos of our service dog candidates, the boys immediately associated Nyx with Charkie from Curious George, exclaiming, “Charkie!” The family attempted to offer several other potential names, but they knew that this dog was meant to be “Charkie,” and refused the suggestions. Charkie’s family can relate Curious George episodes to the boys, in order to help them understand that she is in training but will soon be with them permanently.

5. Peach, the perfect service dog for Mariano

Mariano loves the Mario Brothers games. He knew that his service dog’s name should reflect the thing he is most passionate about, resulting in the choosing of “Peach” for his service dog’s name. Princess Peach is a prominent character in the Mario Bros. series and Mariano was inspired by her beauty and skill, just like the traits that his new service dog possessed! And how adorable is this team – Mariano and Peach! We can’t wait to see the costumes this pair wears for their first Halloween together.

6. Benny, the service dog who was born for this

autism service dog with children

When Benny’s family applied for a service dog in the fall of 2018, they knew it would take a while for Josh to receive his trained service dog. About a week after Josh’s tenth birthday in January of 2019, his mom was driving him to school and Josh exclaimed, “Mom, the only thing I didn’t get for my birthday was my service dog.” His mother explained the process of service dog waiting times to him, and how important it was for Highland Canine to find the perfect match for Josh. He replied, “Well, I hope my dog’s name is Benny.” What a surprise for the family when they received a call from our service dog trainer Amber later that day with the good news!

We had been working with a Golden Retriever who seemed to be a good match for Josh. His family was in disbelief that we had been able to match him so quickly and were very excited to meet the pup. During our phone conversation, Josh’s mother asked, “By the way, what is the dog’s name?” Amber replied, “Benny.” This incredible moment must have been fate. Josh and his family met Benny and absolutely fell in love with him. “He is our dog, so gentle, sweet, calm and just perfect.”

7. Indi, a playful autism service dog for an adventurous boy

child in store with autism service dog

Hopper was the name that we gave Indi until he met the child he was placed with. Initially, Hopper began service dog training as a puppy in the rainy part of the year. Because of the weather and all the puddles, he was named Hopper and his brother was named Splash. However, his boy adores Indiana Jones movies, and named him Indi in honor of the hero who inspires him. All the trainers at Highland Canine thought the name was a perfect fit for this fun-loving, outgoing Doodle. And now, these two boys can go on all of life’s adventures together.

8. Consuelo de Los Dolores y del Perpetuo Socorro (aka Lelo)

On the island of Puerto Rico, a young woman named Gaby excitedly met the Labradoodle puppy who would become her mobility assistance service dog.  Gaby always loved the name “Consuelo.” Gaby and her family are devout Catholics possessing a deep respect for and adoration of the Virgin Mary. Because of this, they have added, “Dolores y del Perpetuo Socorro,” to her name which is translated in English to mean, “Our Lady of Sorrows and Perpetual Help.” This name is very fitting for this sweet, smart Doodle.

9. Therapy Dog Solace, giver of comfort, consolation, and relief

womens shelter facility therapy dog

This little black Lab was born at our training center and given the name Hilo, as part of a Hawaiian islands themed litter of puppies. As Hilo grew, his trainers saw something special in this sweet, loving pup. We knew he was destined to become a therapy dog. A women’s shelter organization was looking into adding a facility therapy dog and Hilo was the perfect candidate. He was renamed “Solace,” because he provides comfort, support and relief to the residents of this shelter who have experienced traumatic or distressing life events.

The name of a service dog is as unique as the human they are assigned to, and as significant as the duty they are tasked with from the moment they meet their family. Each of these names was carefully selected by the incredible individuals who have chosen to spend every moment with these amazing pups for many years to come. A name is not simply a reference – it is a purpose, a meaning, and the dedication to a brighter future.

Comment below and let us know the special meaning behind your dog’s name!

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