Call out Bella and many dogs and cats and birds will look up. Bella was the most popular name for dogs and cats in 2012 and the third most popular name for birds and exotics. Undoubtedly, the popularity of the name has something to do with those "Twilight" movies.
But not everyone names their pets for a vampire lover. Somewhere there are dogs named Chew Barka, Spark Pug and Stinker Belle, and cats named Pico de Gato, Kitty Gaga and Slim Pickens.
Lists of names are compiled each year by Veterinary Pet Insurance from its database of almost half a million policy holders. The top dog names for 2012, I note, are all "people" names:
Some old-school pet names are declining on the VPI list with only 11 VPI canine clients answering to Fido and 65 felines to Fluffy.
The top cat names are:
The top five dog and cat names were also among the Babycenter.com top 100 names for human babies, according to VPI.
Top names for birds and exotic pets in 2012:
Raising A. Ruckus and Dandy Lion top my personal list of VPI's most unusual dog names. Others are Spunky Brewster, Fatboy Jackson, Oreo-Dunkin, Santa Paws, Yucky, Nigel Nosewhistle, Marcopolo and Fudge McDreamy.
A tip of the hat to those who thought up these cat names: Dumpster Kitty, Schnickelfritz, Weow Weow, Shatsi Popo, Black Sabbath, Yum-Yum and Long John Silverr.
Dress your pets
Who knew there's a National Dress Up Your Pet Day? It's Monday, according to a news release from Litter Genie. A Google search quickly displayed multiple websites that confirm this.
"You'd be bored too if you had to wear the same fur coat every day," says the Hallmark Channel page that announces this "day."
Sensing that many cats don't want to wear costumes, Litter Genie suggests you go to their Cat Snaps page, www.LitterGenie.Cheezburger.com, and upload a photo of your pet. The site lets you add "virtual" clothes and accessories so you, too, can have photos of your pets in costume on your Facebook page.
I don't dress my pets, but for some reason I get a kick out of seeing other people do it. Share pictures of your costumed pets, if you wish, on my Facebook page. You need to send me a friend request if you want to do this, but hey, no one can ever have too many friends.
Bully lovers ball
The fifth annual Lovers Not Fighters Gala to raise money for Hello Bully is 7 to 11 p.m. Feb. 16 at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Oakland.
General admission is $50 per guest or $90 per couple, and includes hor d'oeuvres, dessert buffet and a cash bar. VIP tickets are $100 and include premium seating, private bar and gift bags.
The dress code suggests "cocktail attire" with no blue jeans or sports attire. Dogs are not invited to this event.
Hello Bully is a small, local nonprofit organization that rescues pit bulls and works to educate the public about the American pit bull terrier. In the hands of responsible pet owners, the dogs are loyal and loving pets.
The group has three pit bulls in their care, including Sam, who was rescued last year from a dog fighting ring in Florida.
Sam was a big hit in the Sept. 9 Pet Tales, getting a large number of Facebook "likes." His face is unforgettable, riddled with shiny scar tissue. Some of his teeth are always visible because he lost tissue around his lips and mouth in the so-called sport of dog fighting.
Despite his background, Sam, 6, is a sweet, quiet and gentle boy, and he's available for adoption. For more information, go to the Hello Bully website -- www.hellobully.com -- where you can also buy tickets to the gala.
Pet Tales appears weekly in the Saturday Home & Garden section. Linda Wilson Fuoco: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-3064.