golden retrievers & proctologists: on baby names I can’t use

Dr Erin bowe Psychologist

November 2, 2021

I’m not one of those people who feels it’s ‘weird’ to give your child the same name as a pet. I figure people name their kids after important people in their family all the time – it might as well be someone you like!

So, yeah, my first daughter is named after a golden retriever. I mean, sort of. It was always on my list of names I wanted for a daughter. When I met my now husband and his family dog had the same name, we both just decided “oh well”.

My second daughter is named after a guinea pig. Again, sort of. It was the name of the first pet my husband and I ever had together. It was some 20 years ago when we were in our late teens and not exactly thinking about children. It was also the name of my best friend’s cat. Still loved it, still used it.

Choosing names is difficult. Ask any teacher or psychologist about the process of naming your child and they just GET IT. Some kids’ names you just can’t use.

Other names I liked, but can’t use are:

Zoey or Zoe
And Bowie

I know Zoe Bowie is a real person, (although he goes by ‘Duncan’ now) but I couldn’t do that to a kid. ‘Bowie Bowe’ would be a nightmare.

Is this a good time to point out my surname is pronounced “bow” as is take a bow (like the Madonna song, or Rihanna’s if you prefer)

I’ve started teaching my daughters to say “Bowe as in wow!, not Bowe as in Whoah!”

Recently, a mentoring client asked me if my business name was “my real name” or one I made up. So begins the story of how I ended up using the name “doctor Erin” for my business.

Firstly, no one can ever say or spell ‘Bowe’ the way you are supposed to.

No one could say or spell my maiden name either. So where does that leave me?

When I was working in forensic settings, I was WAY less visible than I am now. I avoided using my surname. One day, I’ll share the full story, but let’s just say one of my new clients with antisocial personality disorder went into a full-on psychotic delusion that I was David Bowie’s daughter. Thankfully, he liked Bowie, so it was mostly a ‘pleasant’ psychotic experience. As pleasant as it can be…

There was also the child practice I worked in where one of my client’s dads kept calling me “doctor bowel” and I had to point out I’m not a proctologist. He laughed so hard his mocha latte came out his nose, and “doctor Erin” just sort of stuck after that.

I don’t know why ‘Bowe’ is pronounced and spelled the way it is. Blame my husband’s family. It’s old English or something.  When I set up the shop in my website I may as well call it ‘ye olde shoppe’

I really only changed it from my maiden name because I thought it would be easier for people to spell and say. Nope. “Deveney” as in “Dev”-“n”-“e” might have been easier. We’re Scottish, but I’m told it’s French derived and has something to do with vineyards.

I’m a big fan of people using their own name (or a version of their name) for their business. Why?

It forces you to get comfortable with yourself
It saves you from getting lost in the sea of similar-sounding businesses
It saves getting cease and desist letters and having to rebrand later
People can Google your name and find your work much easier
It immediately establishes a human connection.

I see far too many businesses who hide behind a logo and a generic contact email. Don’t underestimate the power of connecting a name and a face to a business.

I have a personal pet peeve about businesses who won’t give me a name or a face. Especially for a psychology practice or similar business. Some of the top-ranking search results for psychology practices in Australian cities have clearly paid a lot to get to the number one spot, but then there’s no contact name. So where do you address your enquiry “dear owner of Business name”, I need help (for something personal and potentially distressing)…people aren’t going to do that; they will simply click away to the next search result.

You can always use a variation of your name like your middle name, or shorten a part of your name.

This week on the Mum as You Are podcast, I have a brief chat about embracing the in between.


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