What’s in a name?

Sonja Karp


hakespeare asked the question, and this week I have to point that question toward mascots. 

I’m not going to lie. When I first arrived in Newcastle and learned that the school mascot was a Dogie, I did question what exactly that was. 

Upon learning that a Dogie is a motherless calf, I chuckled a bit, but then decided that motherless calves probably grow up to be pretty tough. They have to navigate the world “alone,” and if they make it to adulthood, it means that they’ve survived the hardships the world had to throw at it.

Now, I grew up in a school whose mascot was a Scottie Dog, so I know what it is to represent a school with a mascot that may not necessarily strike fear into the hearts of opponents, and I quickly grew to love being a Dogie.

Over the last couple of decades, I, along with all Dogie fans, have endured being called Doggies by our conference opponents. Aside from the obvious grammatical error evidenced by the mispronunciation, how can you be a part of an eight-team conference and repeatedly get the name of your opponents wrong?

So, what brought this issue up again for me was the headline in a newspaper.

The headline read “Dogies bark …” 

I’m sure the article was well written, but I just can’t get past the title! 

As writers, coming up with a title can be a challenge. I’ve struggled often and know that I turn in some real doozies, but Dogies bark?

And I find it also very amusing that this is coming from a school whose mascot has an actual cheer among rivals where the students chant “What’s a …”

Here’s the deal. 

I know that conference rivals exist. I know that we like to poke fun at each other for any perceived shortcomings. And I’m okay with that.

But, a mascot name is a real thing. It’s the identity of a school and the students and athletes that attend that school and play their hearts out for its teams. 

Every time an opposing school gets it wrong, it’s kind of a slap in the face. It’s a sign of disrespect. The message it sends is that, “We don’t think enough of you to even know your name.”

It’s insulting, because it’s not hard to make sure you have it right.

How about Dogies stomp …? Or Dogies gore …? Either of those would have been acceptable as a descriptor of our mascot. 

Dogies don’t bark.

I reiterate that I did not read the article, and I am quite sure that it is well written because this writer is very skilled. But the headline makes me shake my head.

I also know that I should just get over it. But I can’t help but hold out hope that someday, our conference rivals will be able to figure out that we are Dogies, not Doggies.


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