What’s in a (nick)Name?

I am one of those people that will somehow find a nickname for an animal, twist it 45 different ways, and never call said animal by their actual name. Unless they’re about to get in trouble… kinda like how your mom would throw out your middle name when you were teetering on the brink of a bad decision. Otherwise though, I basically never call any of my animals by their real names in regular day to day life. Mina for instance has morphed almost entirely to Beans or usually just B. Henry is Hens or Muffin. Presto is Pesto or Noodle. Also… hmmm… I literally just noticed when I typed this out that they’re mostly food related. That wasn’t intentional either.

So it’s no surprise that Gemma has had nicknames right from the start, and we’ve run through them pretty quickly. Slim Gem is the obvious one, and it was particularly appropriate when she first arrived and was so skinny (she’s still skinny, so I still call her this sometimes, but she’s less skinny now at least). She earned Jungle Gem a few times in those first couple weeks when she had some wild moments too… that’s a fun nickname but I don’t get to use it that often anymore.

Then there were all the “squirt” variations. The Mare Squirts are real with this one, although have definitely decreased since she’s been on Regumate. Still though… she’s squirty. It started out as Lil Squirt (her rapper name, obviously), then went to SquirtAlert, before settling on Squirt Gun Kelly. I still call her that sometimes.

The most often used ones are GemGem, which is not creative in the least so I disappoint myself every time I use it, and Clever Girl, which she has rightfully earned. I caught myself calling her Pretty Girl a few times in the beginning and I absolutely hate the word “pretty” so I had to force myself to say clever instead for a while, and now it’s well-stuck. I’ve always felt a weird way about the word pretty (in relation to living things at least) for my entire life and never really could figure out why until I saw this Rupi Kaur poem a few years ago… really hits the nail on the head.

Anyway. She is extremely clever, so that’s a more appropriate word for her.

She also gets called Goat Girl a lot, because I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a horse that was a) more thorough in her grazing b) so non-discriminatory about the greenery she will eat. Like… this thing will get down on her knees and crawl halfway under the fence to eat a shitty weed even in a big pasture. I blame it on her west Texas upbringing where I’m betting she probably never had much grass so now she will literally eat anything that grows out of the ground. The annoying part about it to me is that she’ll eat these shitty weeds but still doesn’t like the coastal hay very much and I have to mix it in with her alfalfa to get her to eat it instead of just pull it out of the net and piss on it. Freakin goat.

Her latest nickname is Geminem, because she is both slim and shady. That one seems to be sticking too.

How often do I actually call her Gemma? Almost never. Or at least not to her face.

18 thoughts on “What’s in a (nick)Name?

  1. I love this! My whole family also is extremely into nicknames. I have a long list of what I call my children and pets, some of which can be said in public and some of which would cause great mortification so I *try* not to use them (eg. my 27-year-old son prefers that I don’t use “Cuddles” at the grocery store 😄). I had to clue my fiancé in because (for example) he just stared, astounded, when I addressed my daughter as “G” or “Gator” – her name starts with H and she doesn’t resemble a reptile. He in turn knows he’s in trouble if I call HIM by his real name, since I greatly prefer anything but. I get that from my mom; she never uses my real name unless I’m in trouble.

    I myself have several nicknames that only one person uses for me. Every time an outsider hears one of these I get a funny look, but I usually don’t bother to explain the origin as they’re long, silly, embarrassing stories. Nonetheless, I treasure all my stupid names and will undoubtedly go right on answering to them.

    So keep up the good work, I think all of yours are excellent!

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  2. 100% on the morphing names. We had a dog who started out as Piglet and she (yes she) ended up being called Bill. Don’t ask. It’s a long and probably stupid story. Almost all of our animals have nicknames that have become their real names. I don’t know how anyone DOESN’T do this. The trick is remembering their real names when I go to the vet, who of course has all the animals listed by their original names.

    And I LOVE the poem. Beautiful and true.

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  3. For me, it’s about half and half using given names and nicknames. And the occasional “ding-dong”, “hooligan”, and “you with the hair”.

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  4. I love Geminem! You are definitely not alone in “how the heck did I start calling you that?”
    My homebred Piper I dubbed Peanut when she was a baby-she’s now almost 7 and still gets it. She also gets Piperoni, Pipes, and oddly…Goose?

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  5. My dog has the most unfortunate nickname morph. He’s a greyhound, with the long nose, which he weaponizes to poke us with, and stick where it doesn’t belong. My husband started calling it his “beak”. Then he became Buzzard Beak. Now he’s just “The Buzzard”. A rather unfortunate nickname for a lovely dog. But it does make us laugh 😂

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    1. As a fellow greyhound owner and recipient of many beak pokes, this made me cackle out loud! Our little female Winnie rules the house with an iron paw and will not hesitate to deploy a good poking if we are still sleeping when she thinks she is due breakfast (on the weekends…at 6am…ugh)

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      1. Hahaha agree! The Greyhound beak poke is just one of many beloved traits of these unique and delightful animals ❤️

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  6. Love it. Frankie is either Bubba or Big Man, Maggie is Rinkus or Miss Beebles, and Lina has become Bebis or Small Girl. None of it makes sense when we’re all out in public, and the animals sure as heck don’t know their real names. Hoping the baby figures hers out tho.

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  7. So cute! I actually rarely if ever call any of my animals by a nickname… I call my horses their registered names (or a shortened version of it if it is long). Except my D name horse – he gets called any expletive that starts with D 😂

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  8. My pony Ritz (we will not go into the details of her fairly unfortunate registered name here) is “Ay, Princesa” more often than not. Of course, she’s past 30 now, and is much less a princess than a jaded dowager queen at this point, but I’ve been bellowing that into the field for the last 10 years or so and she keeps answering it, so I keep calling it.
    My (way too recently departed) big dog Rif had all the nicknames – Iffy, Dude, Buddy and sometimes Jackass. Fabulous beast that he was, he knew and responded to all of them.
    And then there’s my parent’s dog Jam, who somehow earned the moniker “Brownie McBrownerson” – at least she actually is brown brindle!

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  9. 1,000,000% dating myself here but the name Gemma always makes me think of Jem and The Holograms and I m here for it!

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  10. Totally love this post and do have nicknames for all my animals. Also have different voices, attitudes, etc that we use for them too!

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  11. That’s when you know it’s a keeper. I’ve had one or two horses come through that never got extra names. But all the ones that were meant to stick around have a million names. Al’s been fun because it works in so many ways. He’s frequently Weird Al (obvious reasons, he’s so weird), I generally call him Albert when I’m greeting him from afar. Some of the kids call him Alfredo and/or Alvin. And when I want to make him feel good about himself I call him Big Al.
    But back to Gemma… I think Geminem is my favorite.

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  12. We have a new herd member called Biscuit…She was getting called Biscotti pretty quickly….when she arrived and immediately went into raging season, piss flying everywhere…so currently she’s Pisscotti…or Pisscuit. Gotta love a mare hahaha!

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