What’s In A Name?

Written by: 
Samantha Epstein

If you are familiar with K9s For Warriors, you may know about our dog sponsorship program. The revenue brought in by this fundraising method is impressive and with the price it takes to train one warrior-dog team around $27,000, each penny raised is very much needed. Donors who choose to sponsor a dog receive the incredible honor of naming the service dog they are supporting.

At K9s For Warriors, names are more than just a formation of letters and syllables. Underneath the surface of each dog’s name lies a story waiting to be told. Memories, love, dedication and hope are carefully sewn into each name… stitch by stitch. Some stories are happy and demonstrate the power of the human spirit: coworkers rallying together, a company honoring a leader, an individual overcoming adversity. Other accounts pull at your heartstrings in such a way, you know it is something you will never forget: a soldier killed in action, a veteran lost to suicide, or even a loved one defeated by another battle, like cancer. Whatever the story may be, each name given has a special meaning.

Name Tag

Service dog in training

Here are some dog name stories that have stood out to our staff:

Ren: named in memory of the sponsor’s son, Drew, who passed away from Cystic Fibrosis at the age of nine. Ren and Stimpy was Drew’s favorite show.

Mako: named in honor of sponsor Stryker’s robotic-arm assisted technology that is transforming how joint replacements are performed.

Bud: named in memory of Mark Alexander Callahan, a Marine and dog lover. He passed away suddenly weeks before he was supposed to get married.  His famlily, friends, and fiancé rallied together to sponsor “Bud” in Mark’s memory.  Bud was a canine friend that Mark once new and loved.

Father Kelly: named by the sponsor, St. Paul’s Catholic Church (Jacksonville Beach), in honor of the parish’s beloved, longtime priest Father William Kelly.

Nate: named by sponsor Rotary Club of Thousand Oaks (California), in honor of the organization’s former president Nate Harimoto. Nate is a Vietnam veteran who served in the United States Navy.

Sigma: sponsored by Quentin Walsh through the Lt. Dennis W. Zilinski Memorial Fund, which was established by Dennis and Marion Zilinski in honor of their son, Dennis who was killed in action. Sigma was named in memory of Dennis and in honor of Quentin’s son: both were swimmers at West Point (during different times). The West Point swim team was known as Army Men’s Swimming or AMS. The cadets swapped the last letter to the Greek alphabet and called themselves Sigma. 

Saor: sponsored by Mark Nix through New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton’s Black and Gold Gala. The name was chosen for its special definition. Meaning free, not imprisoned, unconstrained, and without obligation.  Saor represents the love a dog willingly gives its owners.

George: sponsored by Katherine, a long-term donor of K9s For Warriors. George is the name of her dear father. Katherine has sponsored two dogs, both named George.

name word cloud


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