When someone talks about living with Fido, Rover or Spot, you instinctively know that they are talking about their pet dog, even if it’s not their real name. John Woods, recognised author by the Dog Writers Association of America, tells us where these names came from and why we use them.
In the absence of a name, we often refer to a dog as either Fido, Rover or Spot.
If you spend time reading articles on dog health or behaviour, more often than not, these names will find their way in. But why? Is it simply a habit that has become globally understood or is there more to the story?
Well, we’ve been doing some digging and you may be surprised to learn the real reasons why we call dogs Fido, Rover and Spot.
Let’s start with Fido
The word 'Fido' comes from Latin origin. It means "to trust, believe or confide in", or "I am faithful". If we’re honest, this is what we want from our four-legged friends; we want them to be our trusty companion. Our best friend.
David Woods from My Pet’s Name suggests the name became internationally iconic when a floppy-eared dog came into Abraham Lincoln's life five years before he became President of the U.S.A. That dog was named Fido.
Lincoln had suffered bouts of depression, and it was reported that his pets would pull him out from despair. Unfortunately, the changes in routine to the newly-elected President’s life meant enormous changes for Fido as well. It was decided that Fido would be better suited to a more stable environment so the sad decision was made to re-home him.
However, in a tragic turn of events, Fido was killed just a year after Lincoln's assassination. Being the friendly pooch Fido was, when he approached an apparent wayward, homeless man by the side of the road, the man lashed out, stabbing an unsuspecting Fido.
Fido's journey attracted much interest during his short life. With significant public interest in his story, Fido became one of the most popular dog names of the time. However, he did have a predecessor in what is believed to be the "original" Fido whose story became well known in Italy - a pining Italian dog waiting in vain at the same bus stop every day for 14 years for his owner to return from work. Fido continued their normal routine, unaware that his owner had been been killed at work during WWII bombing attacks. His commitment lasted for more than a decade. What loyalty!
While both stories are heartbreaking, these two faithful friends helped to make the Fido name popular worldwide and a well-known reference to many a dog throughout the second half of the 20th century. Whilst Fido doesn’t make it to the top of the dog name list these days, it is a common and stereotypical name you'll likely hear in passing or referred to in literature.