For many people, at least those that don’t live on one, the word “island” frequently conjures images of a tropical paradise, of isolation and relaxation, of memories already made or soon to be made. While those images may not be concrete in definition, they’re often well-formed in concept and feeling, namely, the adult version of the great escape, a feeling of freedom and happiness. In a similar sense, it’s also how many owners see their dogs, as a means for both playtime and leisure, comfort and adventure. So whether your dog is a symbol for recreation or repose, giving them an island’s name will surely conjure those iconic images two-fold and pay respect to each other in equal fashion.
Island Inspired Dog Names in Pop Culture
Ok, so Potcakes aren’t one specific, famous dog. Nor do they have an island’s name. Nor are they even that popular — yet. But with a slow rise in social media appearances, along with the rise in popularity of lesser known vacation spots such as Turks and Caicos and the persistence and dedication of local Humane Societies, there’s little doubt that these friendly mates will soon be making their way around the world.
So what are Potcakes? Potcakes are the dogs of the Bahamas, as well as Turks and Caicos — that is to say they are the dogs found on many of the islands that stretch from the Dominican Republic to Florida, not including Cuba or the Dominican Republic itself. They are named for the type of food they have regularly been given for decades now: the leftover, cakey scrapings from cooking peas and rice left in the bottom of pots and pans. What makes them so special? They are a microcosm of the type of development that has helped to cement individually recognized breeds all over the world since the time of the earliest domestication and a sign of the type of international cooperation that can bring both awareness and impact to universal canine issues.
While Potcakes may not be a recognized breed, largely due to their limited existence and considerable variance in appearance, that does not mean they aren’t well-defined. They are typically described as having long faces, cocked ears, and smooth coats, generally standing around two feet tall at the withers, weighing an average of 45 pounds, and coming in a wide variety of coat patterns and colors. Their core aesthetic basis stems from a mix of German Shepherd, Labrador Retriever and English Fox Terrier, all of which seem to sport the iconic “potcake smile”. Although this may seem vague compared to well-established and recognized breeds, they do have one characteristic that sets them apart: their stomachs. Because food sources were sometimes even scarce for the people who inhabited the chain of islands, dogs often suffered the same hardships, and were therefore given only what could be spared. In the process, they developed incredibly hardy stomachs, ones that could process foods that would likely make most other dogs sick.
Unfortunately, despite the efforts to keep these dogs spayed and neutered, there is rampant overpopulation throughout the island chain, leaving many to suffer numerous unfavorable fates. Fortunately, the issues have also spawned significant awareness on both a local and international level. Volunteer-based organizations like the Potcake Place have sprung up to help care for, foster, and adopt out these exceptionally hardy and well-tempered dogs within the islands themselves. They even go so far as to allow tourists to volunteer to temporarily foster the potcakes during their stay for cheap, easy care, socialization and even adoption, while canine charity OutPaws has helped to transport over a thousand back to the United States where organized efforts help distribute them internationally.
In all, these lovable dogs may continue to suffer to a certain degree while greater efforts are put in place to control their population and care for those who survive, but by just being easy-going, adaptive, adorable, and endlessly grateful, they have brought awareness to issues that are not only affecting them, but many dogs worldwide.
Island Inspired Dog Name Considerations
OK, so you’ve decided to stick with trying to find an island name. What’s next? Well, it’s time to ferret out the easy choices. If you have a favorite island memory or somewhere you’d like to visit, feel free to use whichever seems most appropriate. For anyone looking to dive a bit deeper off the shore, begin by highlighting some of your dog’s most prominent traits, such as their breed type, appearance or personality.
In terms of breed type, it can be as simple as matching them up with an appropriately-located island. For instance, if you have an Alopekis, one of few Greek breeds, the names Mykonos, Paxos, and Skepelos would all be suitable, especially if you’ve been to and enjoyed one more or of them. For the same reason, the names Lofoten and Svalbard would be good for a Norwegian Elkhound or Dunkel.
If you’re looking to dig a bit deeper or provide a bit more meaning, you may need to do a bit of research, but it will broaden your options significantly. For instance, if you have a dog that is a bit of a loner or likes to stand watch, the name Sentinel, after North Sentinel Island, one of the most isolated places on Earth, would be perfect. If they love to fly around and bark, naming them Howland after Howland Island, the place where Amelia Earhart should have landed, would work on several levels, tying in the island, howling, and flying all in one apt name.